By Ken MacLeod

MANSFIELD (CBS) – Erin Buote is among a handful of shelter volunteers who quit after a dog was euthanized.

“It didn’t deserve this, it had a lot of potential it was a very smart boy,” says Buote.

She’s talking about ‘Rocco’ the pit bull who was euthanized Monday morning at the Mansfield Animal Shelter amid concerns from the town’s Animal Control officer, police chief, and town manager, that he would bite folks.

Rocco the pit bull was euthanized at the Mansfield Animal Shelter

Rocco the pit bull was euthanized at the Mansfield Animal Shelter

“We don’t like it, but we felt it was a necessity,” says Mansfield Town Manager William Ross.

After Rocco was found abandoned in a Home Depot parking lot last May, the shelter spent hundreds on training to prepare him for adoption.

Rocco ended up back at the shelter after two efforts to adopt him failed including one case where he tore up the family couch. Then he snarled at two young children who were touring the shelter.

“We couldn’t be sure given the behavior that was observed when the dog might act out that behavior,” says Ross.

Enter dog trainer Paulette Rioux, a pit bull owner herself who examined the dog at the request of upset volunteers, and concluded that Rocco was not aggressive, not a threat, and plenty adoptable under the right circumstances.

“What I found was a very happy, relaxed dog,” says Paullette Rioux. ‘It’s a travesty, I’m sick to my stomach; this dog did not deserve to die.”

But the town says it reached the agonizing decision with the reluctant blessing of the veterinarian who advises them, insisting they could not let Rocco be adopted in good conscience.

“It was too risky in our view and we felt that in good conscience we could not allow this to happen,” says Ross.

“This is definitely human error and unfortunately it’s human ignorance,” says Rioux.

Harsh words from the trainer who says she offered to adopt Rocco, as did another rescue network.

That’s what prompted volunteer Erin Buote to quit.

“They had the opportunity to really do something great with this animal,” says Buote. “And I think they failed him.”

The several dozen volunteers who remain, now worry the controversy over Rocco will hurt fundraising that is so critical to caring for animals that now call it home.

Ken MacLeod


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