A Wyoming animal shelter is at the center of controversy after staff reportedly pepper sprayed a pit bull puppy a day before they euthanized him.
The incident reportedly involved an 8-month-old, 70-pound pit bull named Tanner housed at Cheyenne Animal Shelter. According to WLS, the dog bit shelter volunteer Marissa Cox several times on her shin and thigh on September 4, a day before the pepper spraying incident.
Cox recalled, “Once he got to my thigh, the next place was going to be my face.”
The next day, Shelter President Bob Fecht reportedly ordered animal control officers to take Tanner outside to pepper spray him. In an email sent to board members, Community Cat Program Coordinator Jay Klapel witnesses claimed Fecht told them, “I better not catch anyone with cellphones out or recording this,” according to the Wyoming Tribune Eagle.
Employees reportedly brought another dog to the back of the shelter with Tanner to agitate him. Once agitated, Fecht allegedly offered Cox the opportunity to pepper spray Tanner but she declined, leading another officer to do it. The report stated that staff hosed off Tanner as he coughed up blood. He was returned to his kennel and euthanized the following day, the newspaper reported.
Former employee Kevin Brueck corroborated much of the email, saying that Tanner appeared dazed after being sprayed and had blood coming from his mouth.
As the community calls for his resignation, Fecht has not only admitted to his actions but has defended them to several news outlets. The shelter president told KGWN that the pepper spraying was part of a “demonstration” to show employees how to handle the animal they feared the most.
“I was very scared that if we did not do something we could have this happen (again), and the next time somebody might actually be killed by the animal. So I made the decision to issue to our staff and train them on pepper spray,” he explained.
Adding to the outrage is the fact that Fecht’s superiors appear to be backing him. Shelter Board President Chloe Illoway told the Tribune Eagle last week that she would “absolutely not” fire Fecht for what she believes was him protecting his employees. She previously described Klapel as a “disgruntled employee” who had multiple issues with the shelter.
“His only concern from the beginning and to the end is the safety of the employees,” she said. “There’s a real risk in the incident that was investigated.”
[Featured Image: WLS video screengrab]