Dog's Death Leads to Animal Control Reform - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

12/30/04

Dog's Death Leads to Animal Control Reform

A memorial to Maggie. A memorial to Maggie.

Remember Maggie, the black Labrador retriever that died after an animal control officer shot her with a tranquilizer gun? Now, three months later, the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department is finished investigating Maggie's death.

Police are not charging the officer involved in the death. However, they do say changes need to be made to their animal control policy.

Maggie's owner, Diana Thibodeau, would do anything for her black Labrador retrievers. In September, Maggie had jumped out of her fenced-in yard. When officers spotted her, they chased her and eventually shot her with two tranquilizer darts. Maggie died a couple hours later in the back of the animal control truck.

"We'll always miss Maggie, a piece of us is always going to be gone," said Thibodeau.

Ever since, she has been fighting for changes. Maggie's collar and harness still hang on the side of the Thibodeaus' house.

Thibodeau says she's okay with the fact the animal control officer won't be charged. That's because animal control's procedures are changing. "Based on what I'm hearing, we are going to be a leading county in the nation when it comes to animal control procedures," she said.

When the police department was investigating the animal control officer, they were also looking into how to keep this from happening to another family pet. "And we concluded that it was time to update and upgrade those procedures," said Chief Dan Flynn.

The upgrade includes new regulations for using tranquilizer darts. "In other words, we will not chemically immobilize an animal unless we've tried everything else, using a catch stick and using every other method available before resorting to that," said Chief Flynn.

Now Thibodeau and her dogs can rest a little easier and Maggie can rest in peace.

The animal control procedures take effect immediately. In fact, two officer have already attended a training session with the National Animal Control Officer Association.

Reported by: Michelle Paynter, mpaynter@wtoc.com

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