NEW ORLEANS — The mission of the Louisiana SPCA is to “promote, protect and advance the well-being of Louisiana’s companion animals.”
But two Saturdays ago, workers at the New Orleans animal shelter, run by the SPCA, mistakenly put down a beloved pet belonging to the Spencer family in New Orleans East.
“He was a family member,” Herman Spencer said. “He was a protector. He was a friend.”
Herman and Rolanda Spencer say their beloved Labrador-Great Dane mix, King Zuma vanished after getting out of their backyard through a broken gate.
They looked for him for about two weeks.
As a last resort, they checked the shelter.
And, there he was.
“It lit me up,” Herman Spencer said. “To see him still alive and he was healthy. He didn’t look like he went through anything. It looked like he survived.”
The Spencers say while they presented Zuma’s medical records, the records did not indicate he had a current rabies vaccination.
They were told they would have to wait until the following Monday to take Zuma home.
That’s when a vet at the shelter would be able to give him the shot and the dog could be released.
“I never even occurred to me that he would be euthanized,” Rolanda Spencer said. “That just never occurred to me that that would happen.”
But it did.
According to the SPCA, Zuma was euthanized just hours after the Spencers visited him at the shelter.
Herman Spencer says his family, especially his young son, misses the dog they adopted as a puppy.
“He’s like I’m sad now. He was sad. He still cries. So, that hurt my heart. I mean that hurts my heart. Taking away Zuma from us you just didn’t hurt me, but you hurt my family and my children.”
According to the SPCA, Zuma did not pass a behavior assessment.
He was on the list to be euthanized before the Spencers came in to recover their lost dog.
For some reason, Zuma was never taken off that list.
“There’s no way there should have been that kind of misunderstanding that cost our dog his life,” Rolanda Spencer said.
In a statement, the LASPCA said, “Words cannot express how sorrowful we are that King Zuma was euthanized after being identified by his family on Saturday, November 19. This has not happened before, and we are actively reviewing all our euthanasia protocols and processes to ensure this never happens again.”
The Spencers are now demanding additional safety protocols and better communications at the shelter.