Reporting Maria Medina
SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Surveillance cameras captured a dog’s death at an animal shelter, and critics say this wasn’t the only animal killing that could have and should have been avoided.
CBS13 uncovered allegations that Sacramento animal shelter workers killed dogs that were supposed to be adopted.
The killings happened at a shelter in Sacramento County, and may still be continuing at another local shelter.
We obtained video inside a Sacramento shelter’s euthanasia room. On this day 2 years ago, a dog named Zeus would be put down. His body remained on the floor as shelter workers killed another dog, before being dragged away.
“It’s horrible to see something die that you had a place for. It was horrible,” said Susan Wallace at Scooter’s Pals, a dog rescue group.
Wallace never got to meet Zeus. She claims the shelter killed him the day before staff promised she could pick him up. Wallace thinks incidents like this could a frequent occurrence.
“It’s happened more than we ever know,” said Wallace.
Jill Telfer is Wallace’s attorney. She’s suing the shelter on behalf of a former shelter employee who claims workers killed dogs that rescue groups requested to save. And, the allegations run even deeper.
“Rescues are critical of shelters that don’t follow the law. They’re kind of like a ‘watchdog’ and so sometimes there’s retaliation that takes place,” said Telfer.
Telfer says she has proof former Sacramento County Animal Shelter Director Pat Claerbout blacklisted rescue groups that questioned the shelter’s kill rates or practices.
Telfer is using the video in one lawsuit because she says Claerbout is the woman who holds Zeus as he’s given the deadly shot.
“She takes things personally and she’s been able to carry out her retaliation on various groups,” said Telfer.
The county let Claerbout go in 2010, claiming budget cuts, but her work with animals didn’t stop there. Soon after Claerbout became the director at Stockton’s animal shelter last year.
When asked if Claerbout’s practices are continuing in Stockton, activist Eileen McFall said, “Yes, I do.”
An online petition surfaced to remove her, alleging a spike in euthanasia. It also sparked the creation of California Pets Alive, created McFall, who’s made it her mission is to question Claerbout’s actions.
The Stockton Police Department oversees the shelter and spoke on behalf of Claerbout, who didn’t return our call or email request for an interview.
“We hold Pat in high regards,” said Det. Joe Silva, Stockton Police Department. “She’s very proactive in working with different rescue groups.”
“She does work with some rescue groups and she doesn’t work with other rescue groups,” said McFall.
“That video alone is reason alone to not allow Ms. Claerbout to be a shelter director,” said Telfer.
Others continue to question what happens behind closed doors inside shelters, saying taxpayers should be concerned whether their money goes to kill animals that could be alive today.
“We had a home for him. He’s dead when he could be alive, and that’s wrong. That’s just wrong,” said Wallace.
CBS13 obtained emails from Sacramento County admitting staff killed Zeus. The county explains a miscommunication among workers led to his death.
No one from the county would go on camera because of the pending lawsuit.
Claerbout spoke to CBS13 on the phone and said she was proud she’d brought down the euthanasia rate in Stockton.