Owners upset after Southern Indiana shelter euthanized microchipped dog

SCOTTSBURG, Ind. (WDRB) - Billy Harris said his family's 11-year-old boxer Max was put to sleep, but no one in his family said it was OK.

Shelter officials in Scott County, Indiana, said they tried to contact the owners about the microchipped dog, but the owners said they never got a phone call.

"I was so mad," Harris said. "That dog was like family."

Max ran away from his Scottsburg home early Sunday morning. He was hit by a car about a mile away, but he was still alive. Harris said he had a microchip.

"The chip company actually called us and said we should be hearing something from the animal shelter because the animal shelter had called them," Harris said.

But Harris said that didn't happen, and his family eventually called animal control.

"They said yes, they found the dog," Harris said. "They had euthanized him and already disposed of the body. I wanted a vet to make that call, not a dog-catcher."

Director of the Scott County Animal Shelter Denney Robbins said the shelter did call Max's owner and left a voicemail.

"For one, their dog shouldn't have been running loose, period," Robbins said. "This would never have happened."

Phone records, provided by the shelter, show the worker waited at least 45 minutes after calling before putting the dog down.

Robbins said the shelter doesn't receive enough funding to transport all injured animals to a vet and stands by his worker's decision.

"I do know the dog was dragging its hind legs. I know it had labored breathing," Robbins said. "We were left with a tough decision. The dog was microchipped. We don't have to check for a microchip, but we did."

According to the Animal Legal & Historical Center, only eight states have laws that require shelters to scan for a microchip and then make contact with the owner before adopting or euthanizing a pet.

Indiana isn't one of them.

Harris knows he can't get Max back, but he hopes the shelter will change its policies.

"You don't make that decision," Harris said. "That was my dog. And you killed my dog."

Max's owners said they never received a voicemail. Animal Control transported the dog's body to Purdue University for an autopsy.

Copyright 2017 WDRB Media. All rights reserved.