Confusion may have led to mass execution of dogs

By Jena Johnson - bio | email | Twitter

RUSK COUNTY, TX (KLTV)- There are new details in the pit bull mauling last week that killed a two-year-old Rusk County boy. Nearly 40 dogs were seized after the deadly attack at a home on County Road 421, just outside of Henderson.

Less than 72 hours after the animals were removed from the home, most of them were put down. It appears that confusion over who was in charge of caring for the dogs may have led to the mass execution.

The home where two-year-old Kaden Muckleroy lived is the place where he died after he was attacked by a pit bull. Shortly after the attack, more than 30 mixed dogs not involved in the killing were locked in cages and hauled away. Henderson City Manager Mike Barrow said the dog's owner signed over the animals.

"We had ownership of the animals," Barrow said. "Ownership was turned over to the city and in so doing we evaluated and made the determination, which our staff is qualified to do."

He said the shelter's superintendent, Ronnie Whittington, deemed the dogs a danger and possibly a health threat to the shelters other animals.

"We looked them over and some of them had some very, very extreme issues [such as] ear mites," Barrow said.

Until Monday, the Rusk County Sheriff's Office thought the county had custody of the dogs. They said they were unaware of the city's ownership and their decision to euthanize the animals. SPCA of East Texas President Deborah Dobbs said the dogs weren't given a chance.

"Some dogs in the film were wagging their tail because they were happy to see people," Dobbs said. "This was sort of a blanket decision, and it was knee jerk and I feel like it was pretty impulsive."

Dobbs says she is disappointed in how the situation was handled, but the city stands by its decision.

"If anyone does have issues with our procedures, they probably need to take that up with the Department of State Health Services," Barrow said.

Investigators said the criminal case regarding Kaden's death has been turned over to the  district attorney's office.

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