KCBD Investigates K9 Care: Midland area rescues outraged over Lubbock dog rescue’s decision to euthanize 12 puppies

Published: May. 10, 2023 at 10:04 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - A Lubbock dog rescue’s decision to euthanize 12 puppies has sparked intense criticism, including from other area rescues.

Devyn Daley is the foster coordinator for Sassy’s Dogs Rescue in Midland.

Daley has three dogs of her own and a cat, plus the animals she volunteers to foster. One of those animals is Mya, who came from a hoarding case outside of Odessa.

“She has had several litters and I think she is only two,” Daley said.

Daley said Mya is one of more than 120 dogs removed from the man’s property.

“He was trying to create his own breed of dog is what I understood,” Daley said.

Daley said the owner turned to area rescues for help, and a handful of rescues volunteered.

Trayce Gearhart, the president of MASA, an animal rescue in Midland, said she was one of the first to arrive at the property.

“We realized oh my gosh, you know, we are going to need a lot of hands-on deck with this. We messaged every rescue in the area, you know, ‘Can you help with this? Can you help with this?’” Gearhart said.

Sisters Heather and Sarah Rothwell, co-founders of the Good Dog Gang in Lubbock, offered to help.

“We first got a pregnant dog that we named Badger and then we also got 12 additional puppies. Within the first 24 hours, we started seeing a lot of issues, so they were vetted by one of our local clinics and all 12 of them did have Parvo,” Heather said.

They said two of the sick puppies were euthanized, and the rest were sent back to Gearhart.

“I told her I can treat those for you. I’ll be happy to do it free of charge, but you do have to take them back when I get them healthy, and she said that was fine,” Gearhart said.

In the meantime, The Good Dog Gang said Badger had her puppies in their care, and they also agreed to take in another adult female, Cowgirl, and five puppies.

About three weeks later, Gearhart said the puppies she had volunteered to treat tested negative for the canine parvovirus.

Gearhart said another area rescue, Permian Basin Animal Advocates, found fosters for two of the now healthy puppies.

Gearhart said on April 5, she took the eight remaining puppies along with four others to The Good Dog Gang in Lubbock.

On April 11th, Daley and Gearhart said the Good Dog Gang sent the rescues a video of the puppies in the backyard.

“They were playing tug of war with a rope and they were just bouncing around and doing puppy things,” Daley said.

Daley said three days later, the Midland area rescues received another message from The Good Dog Gang, but this one came as a surprise.

“At 4:39 p.m. on April 14, we received a message saying, ‘They are out of control. We are having major behavioral issues.’ They said, ‘We are sorry to say it, but they are just not good dogs,’” Daley said.

“We have that video they sent us saying they are doing great. So for them to say, two or three days later, ‘Oh my God, this aggression is out of hand, and it’s past the point of fixing or correcting.’ I have a lot of issues with that,” Daley said.

“It got to where play was no longer play; they were holding each other down by the throat. We did a lot of one-on-one with one of my adult dogs so that the adult would redirect and that didn’t work because they were attacking her neck and going after her face,” Heather said.

Daley said she and the other Midland area rescues volunteered to take the puppies from The Good Dog Gang.

“We offered to sign liability waivers where they would be released of liability. We were going to put these puppies in separate homes and evaluate them,” Daley said.

The sisters said they did not feel comfortable handing the puppies over to other rescues.

“We can transfer a legal liability for a bite, but we can’t transfer the burden on our heart of having those dogs placed in homes where there is a potential danger to a human life or another dog’s life,” Sarah said.

The sisters said they contacted three behavioral experts for advice.

“One of them is a certified dog behavior consultant with the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants,” Heather said.

“We did not have someone come out and do an actual formal evaluation, but we described what we were seeing, the behaviors we were seeing, and all three of them agreed that behavioral euthanasia was a responsible choice in this case,” Heather said.

“I have a problem with their expert not being in-person,” Daley said. “Everything was described to them on the phone, so how can they make an accurate decision?”

When the other rescues heard this news, they were outraged.

“I said, ‘Heather, I beg you please do not kill these puppies,’” Gearhart said.

The sisters behind The Good Dog Gang stand by their decision.

“Our morals and our ethics matter,” Heather said.

Still, Gearhart and Daley disagree with the decision.

“So it is more ethical to kill 12 puppies? That, to me, was Ludacris. Someone was 21 miles outside of Lubbock at the time the puppies were being killed,” Gearhart said.

KCBD Investigates obtained case records from Lubbock Animal Services that confirm all 12 puppies were euthanized around closing time on Friday, April 14.

“I will never forgive her for doing this. I will never forget that she did this,” Gearhart said.

“A lot of people have asked me, ‘Well what is so important about these 12 puppies? There are hundreds more that need help.’ I think the answer to that is when we removed the puppies from the hoarding situation, we promised them a second chance because of The Good Dog Gang. So it’s not that they are more important, it’s just that they were deprived of what we promised them,” Daley said.

According to Lubbock Animal Services’ case reports for the euthanized puppies, they were not showing signs of aggression and were smaller than originally described by The Good Dog Gang.

KCBD Investigates spoke with LAS’ director about policy changes now under review.

That story will air Thursday, May 18 at 10 p.m.