Some angered after dog's cold-weather death at county shelter - WSMV Channel 4

Some angered after dog's cold-weather death at county shelter

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MANCHESTER, TN (WSMV) -

There is anger and debate in Coffee County over the death of a dog that was about to be rescued. The woman who planned to adopt the Chihuahua thinks the animal may have frozen to death inside the county animal shelter.

It's a shelter that has been the subject of protest by animal advocates in the past, and the story of this dog's death has kicked up outrage online. But county officials say they did nothing wrong.

Nicky Bandy said she had already picked a name for the Chihuahua she planned to adopt from the Coffee County Animal Shelter. She planned to call her Star.

"Chihuahuas definitely don't need to be outside in the freezing cold, and that's why I wanted to help her," Bandy said. "She was so helpless. I mean, there were probably 20 dogs in there."

The shelter requires stray dogs be held for five days to give their owners a chance to claim them.

Bandy says she returned every day to check on Star and even offered to pay double to adopt her early because she was so worried Star would freeze.

"When I went in Friday to adopt the dog that I came out with, they told me that she had died," Bandy said.

Each of the pens inside the Coffee County Animal Shelter has an opening to the outside.

Bandy, along with animal rescue organizations, believe that creates conditions so cold on the concrete floors that dogs like Star are freezing in the cold of winter.

"Freezing cold, just like a jail cell," Bandy said.

Shelter officials say that's not true. The county mayor says he took the temperature inside Star's pen himself Monday morning after hearing all the complaints.

"At 7:30 this morning I rolled in here, we shot another temperature - the same pen that the little animal was in. It was 62.6 degrees. It was 28 degrees outside," said county Mayor David Pennington.

"I don't know who made the statement the dog was froze to death, but it was not," said Coffee County Animal Control Director Kevin Brown. "I really don't know why it died other than old age."

The animal advocacy group Dogs in Harmony is starting a campaign called "Justice for Star." The focus is encouraging people to spay and neuter and vaccinate their dogs so they don't end up where Star found herself: cold and alone.

"You know what, it doesn't matter if she was about to die or not. She could've died in the arms of somebody at home in a soft, warm place," said Lila Jean Trivisonno, president and treasurer of Dogs in Harmony Inc. "This didn't have to happen."

The county says it has no plans to get a necropsy to determine why the dog died.

The rescue group No Kill Manchester wrote on Facebook in response to Star's story that it has offered to bring raised beds into the shelter to keep animals off the cold ground but is waiting for county officials to approve the use of the beds.

Bandy said she was turned away when she tried to bring Star a blanket, but the shelter director said Monday all donations are welcomed and accepted.

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