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Puppy Death Causes Investigation

A 7-week-old Hurricane Katrina survivor dies at the Animal Shelter.

A 7-week-old puppy died in the Loudoun County Animal Shelter Nov. 17, and Supervisor Jim Clem (R-Leesburg) wants some answers. The puppy was rescued from Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina.

“If this was the only incident I wouldn’t be investigating,” said Clem, the chairman of Loudoun County Board of Supervisors Public Safety Committee. Clem said he received a number of complaints from people regarding the Animal Shelter, but did not wish to comment on the specifics. At this point, he said, he is concentrating on the death of the puppy.

“Accidents happen,” he said, “but when you ask questions and get three different scenarios as answers, you know something is wrong.”

THE THREE scenarios given to Clem as an answer to what happened to the puppy are: someone lifted the dog by the back of the neck and caused the fatal injury; the dog bit an individual and the person shook the dog from the arm causing the fatal injury; and the dog was electrocuted.

“I just want to get to the bottom of this,” said Clem.

The county’s Animal Advisory Board held its regular monthly meeting Dec. 12. Clem said it was obvious something was wrong when the entire staff of the Animal Shelter was in the meeting. However, Laura Danis, the public and community relation specialist with the shelter, said there was nothing unusual about the staff attending the meeting. She said the same people who attend each meeting attended this one.

An investigation into the death of the puppy is ongoing. The investigator appointed by the county for the job is Steve Van Winkle, with the Fire, Rescue and Emergency Management Department.

Clem said he is not going to interfere with the investigation. Instead he will let the investigator do his job, report back to Clem, at which point Clem will decide what to do next. Danis said the shelter is doing the same.

Clem’s appointee to the Animal Advisory Board, Mary Harper, will become the chairman of the board beginning Jan. 1. She declined to comment on the death of the puppy, but said she thought the shelter had come a long way in recent years. She is not aware of any consistent problems within it.

“We are really excited about what is going on at the shelter,” said Danis. She said the shelter was a part of the Holiday Coalition for the first time, and 400 animals received holiday treats thanks to the shelter. The shelter is also currently running special, holiday-related, adoption programs. To learn more about the shelter or its programs visit the county’s Department of Animal Care and Control Web site at http://www.loudoun.gov/animals/index.htm.