Animal Control Officer Resigns after Wrongful Euthanization of Family Pet

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The deeply remorseful animal control officer responsible for the tragic misidentification and euthanization of the wrong dog has voluntarily resigned, cradling the immense guilt over the error they made.

The adored family pet, Sarge, was euthanized on Friday, following an unfortunate mix-up that left a Gisborne council worker euthanizing the wrong dog. Gisborne District Council has since announced an independent investigation set to be overseen by director Kate Wallingford of Owl Investigations.

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Sarge, a well-cared-for pet complete with a collar and chip, was picked up from his secure home in Gisborne on Friday morning Only to be mistakenly euthanized by council personnel the same day. The heartbreak of Sarge’s family is palpable, expressing their devastation over his wrongful end.

In an official statement, Gisborne District Council revealed the appointment of experienced investigator Kate Wallingford, expressing their complete trust in her ability to establish the facts of this crucial incident. Council Chief, Nedine Thatcher Swann, emphasized the depth of their regret and acknowledged the community’s understandable anger and grief, vowing to work diligently to win back their faith.

The council confirmed that the dog was found in the vicinity of the road before the officer picked him up. Recognized by his tag, Sarge was initially taken back to his home, but with no one available at the property to receive him, he was taken to the pound instead.

In a poignant personal statement, the resigned officer extended a heartfelt apology to Sarge’s family for the pain their mistake caused them, acknowledging the profound role a pet plays as a family member and companion. The officer extended their apology to the larger Tairāwhiti community as well, asserting the regret they feel for betraying the community’s trust.

As they tendered their resignation, the officer emphasized that their mistake cannot and should not taint the reputation of the entire Council and the hardworking staff. They assured everyone of their cooperation during the independent investigation, seeking the community’s forgiveness and hoping for healing with time.

Speaking on behalf of Sarge’s mourning family, a spokesperson expressed their trauma over the event, sharing their grief and outrage over their beloved dog’s untimely death, without being afforded a chance to have their last word with Sarge.

Commemorations for Sarge poured in on social media, as those who knew him commemorated his gentle spirit and unwavering love for his family. The family noted their communication with council management in discussing the incident, while the council assured its commitment to preventing a similar incident in the future.

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Melinda Cochrane is a poet, teacher and fiction author. She is also the editor and publisher of The Inspired Heart, a collection of international writers. Melinda also runs a publishing company, Melinda Cochrane International books for aspiring writers, based out Montreal, Quebec. Her publication credits include: The art of poetic inquiry, (Backalong Books), a novella, Desperate Freedom, (Brian Wrixon Books Canada), and 2 collections of poetry; The Man Who Stole Father’s Boat, (Backalong Books), and She’s an Island Poet, Desperate Freedom was on the bestseller's list for one week, and The Man Who Stole Father’s Boat is one of hope and encouragement for all those living in the social welfare system. She’s been published in online magazines such as, (regular writer for) ‘Life as a Human’, and Shannon Grissom’s magazine.