• Couple claim St. Johns County shelter euthanized their service dog

    By: Deanna Bettineschi

    Updated:

    ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. - A husband and wife want answers after they say St. Johns County Animal Control Pet Center euthanized their service dog.

    Their dog Baby Girl was lost when animal control picked her up, and JoAnn Williams tells us Baby Girl was put down. But Williams said her dog had a microchip. We went to county officials for answers.
     
    Baby Girl was a boxer pitbull mix. Williams and her husband Brian Williams are now blaming the St. Johns County Animal Control Pet Center for euthanizing Baby Girl.

    The Williamses say in December they went to Atlanta, and left Baby Girl with a friend, but she got away.
     
    “Back on the 19th I found out she was missing and I have been looking for her,” JoAnn Williams said.
     
    Williams tells me she went door to door, until she got a call last night saying a woman turned her into Animal Control.

    She claims Animal Control told her this:
     
    “He called me back and had informed me they put her to sleep,” JoAnn Williams said.
     
    Williams says she’s furious. She said Baby Girl was a registered service dog, helping her with bipolar disorder and her husband with epilepsy.


    Latest News Headlines from Action News


    “With me, like 20 minutes before I have a seizure, it (Baby Girl) will notify her (his wife) and let her know I’ll have a seizure,” Brian Williams said.
     
    Brian Williams said their dog had a microchip inside of her but said they were never contacted by animal control.
     
    “They said evidently our chip machine wasn't working that day, like ‘oh my bad, we killed your dog!'” Brian Williams said.
     
    Action News went to Animal Control for answers but we were turned away and told to contact county spokesperson Michael Ryan regarding this issue.

    Ryan issued the following statement:

    “An attempt is made to identify every dog brought to our animal shelter, including microchip scanning. The owners of identifiable dogs are immediately contacted. Those dogs which are unidentifiable are held for a minimum of five days. Our Animal Control officers retrieved a stray dog with similar physical characteristics on December 11 with no identification. After being housed for three additional days past the standard holding period, the dog was euthanized in accordance with county ordinance. While the loss of any pet is tragic, facility space limitations prevent us from housing stray animals indefinitely, and unfortunately we were not notified of the missing dog until 34 days after an animal with similar characteristics was received.”

    Meantime, the Williams are devastated to lose Baby Girl.

    “Not only was she my family pet but my service dog,” JoAnn Williams said.
     
    Williams said she is now looking for another animal that could be her service dog like Baby Girl.


    For Action News on the go, sign up for Action News Mobile & Email alerts


    Next Up: