- Associated Press - Friday, December 23, 2016

PHOENIX (AP) - An Arizona animal shelter sparked social media backlash this week by spaying two pregnant dogs and euthanizing their 25 full-term unborn puppies.

The decision to euthanize the puppies is part of a recently re-enacted policy for handling overcrowding at the shelter. Maricopa County officials confirmed Thursday that the pups were not removed from the birth sacs of their mothers and died from doses of anesthesia given to their mothers.

Maricopa County Animal Care and Control would have euthanized the puppies even if they had shown movement, chief veterinarian Dr. Valerie Moser told The Arizona Republic (https://bit.ly/2i0nNyE).

“A well-run shelter doesn’t euthanize dogs for space and then allow (other dogs) to have puppies,” said Moser.

One of the dogs was pregnant with 14 puppies and the other was carrying 11.

Outraged animal rescue groups and shelter volunteers took to social media this week to criticize shelter officials, saying they should have been aware of foster families willing to temporarily house the animals.

“My understanding is (the shelter) has not communicated this message to their rescue partners and aren’t even sending pleas to the rescue groups who may be able to save these mama dogs and puppies,” animal-rights supporter Christine Monroe said in an email to The Republic.

Volunteers also accused officials of trying to hide the condition of pregnant dogs from the public by referring to them in records as having a “distended abdomen” or other vague terms.

Animal Care and Control Director Mary Martin said such terms were used but that the language was not meant to keep details from the public.

Martin said it was an attempt to prevent non-professional staff from making medical diagnoses.

“We spay pregnant animals,” she said Thursday. “There was not an attempt to hide anything; it’s an attempt to run a professional organization.”

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Information from: The Arizona Republic, https://www.azcentral.com


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