A New Zealand council has “sincerely apologised” for euthanising a pet dog in a tragic case of mistaken identity that has infuriated his “devastated” owners and stunned locals.
The dog Sarge “was mistakenly put down” on Friday “while being held at the pound” in what the Gisborne District Council has described as a “very unfortunate incident” involving an Animal Control Officer.
“While not all the facts are known, it appears that this was a regrettable case of human error, where the dog was mistakenly identified for another dog that was scheduled to be put down on the same day,” the council on the country’s North Island confirmed in a statement posted to Facebook on Sunday night.
“Council has launched a comprehensive investigation to understand the circumstances that led to this grievous error.”
Officials have been in touch with Sarge’s family and intend on meeting with them to discuss their dog’s death, the statement continues. However, the apology is too little, too late said Kara Hull, a close friend of the dog’s owners Logan and Piri.
Dog taken from fenced yard
“Imagine accidentally killing a human, then just putting out a media statement,” she told New Zealand publication Stuff. “Sarge was family. Logan and Piri don’t have kids, and Sarge was their baby. It’s devastating.”
The dog, who was collared and microchipped, was at his fenced rural property when he was picked up by a council animal officer while the couple were at work.
“Neighbours told him, ‘he’s fine, it’s fenced, we know him’, but they took him anyway,” Ms Hull explained.
Logan and Piri were called to come pick up their dog, but before they could arrive, Sarge had been euthanised, the publication reports. Ms Hull said they later went to collect his remains, which were handed to them in “like a rubbish bag”.
The family friend also claimed when the couple went to bury their pet, they discovered “he had been killed by a bolt gun” and had a wound in his head. The council’s statement has attracted heavy backlash from locals online, with many arguing that “sorry doesn’t cut it”.
Council 'taking matter seriously'
Officials say they are “deeply saddened by the unfortunate event” and “understand that nothing can replace the deep bond and memories shared between a family and their pet”.
“At this time, we want to reassure the community that we’re taking this matter seriously, and we will take appropriate measures to ensure we learn from this and ensure it does not happen again,” the council’s statement reads.
“Gisborne District Council strives to provide an excellent standard of service to our community. In this case, it’s clear, we have failed. We sincerely apologise.”
The council said it is also providing support to the Animal Control Officer involved, “who is deeply remorseful and shaken”.
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