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Nebraska Humane Society euthanizes dog without owner's consent in midst of "miscommunication"

The dog was in quarantine at the NHS
Posted at 6:37 PM, May 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-13 19:37:00-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — The Rodgers family rescued their German Shepherd, Zeppelin when he was just 6 months old and he quickly became an important member of the family.

"He was awesome. My daughter has a baby, she has two now, but Zeppelin grew up with her daughter and he was an awesome dog," Kelly Rodgers, Zeppelin's owner said. "He was great he was playful he loved the water, he loved the ocean but he was a great dog."

Last week Zeppelin, who was three, had a seizure. Rodgers said he had just been to the vet and had never experienced a seizure before. Zeppelin had been staying with Kelly's son, Eric. In the midst of his seizure, Zeppelin bit Eric's roommate. They say he had never bitten anyone before.

"He didn’t nip at him because he’s mean, he nipped at him because he’s scared, they were trying to catch them to get him in the kennel during his seizure," Kelly said.

Eric told 3 News Now that the bite was minor.

Per health department protocol, Zeppelin had to quarantine for ten days.

"[Eric] said that the dog had a seizure three days before and had been acting not quite like himself and had bitten one of his friends so he brought the dog in and said he needed to be euthanized. Our front desk said well wait a minute there are other options as well, you can leave the dog here for quarantine for ten days," said Pam Wiese, Vice President of Public Relations and Marketing for the Nebraska Humane Society.

The Rodgers family said they did not want Zeppelin to be euthanized. They said Eric specifically signed a document that said he wanted the dog returned to him after the ten-day quarantine.

According to the humane society, Zeppelin's condition worsened and his health was deteriorating after day 5 of his quarantine. They contacted the Rodgers family to discuss his condition and said there was a miscommunication.

"After that conversation we mistakenly felt that we had been given tacit approval to go ahead and euthanize the dog. So what we decided to do, based on the fact that the dog was deteriorating and based on the act that the dog was not doing anything, was to go ahead and euthanize the dog," Wiese said.

They contacted the bite victim and informed him the dog had been euthanized and did not show any symptoms of rabies. The bite victim then called the Rodgers family who did not know what happened.

"I was in shock and I think I still am in shock I just kept asking them, how can you just take a life that easily? How can you miscommunicate about something like that? It just doesn’t make sense," Kelly Rodgers said.

The Nebraska Humane Society contacted the Rodgers family to express their deepest condolences and say they are reviewing policy and retraining staff to ensure this never happens to another family.

"Nothing’s going to bring him back, but something has to change and this can’t be okay and I hope to God this doesn’t happen to someone else or hasn’t happened to someone else," Kelly Rodgers said.

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