A dog was mauled to death at a Santa Barbara County Animal Shelter on Thursday after the gates to several kennels were left open, releasing several dogs.
The incident occurred at the county shelter located at 5473 Overpass Rd. in Goleta. Two of the loose dogs engaged in a fight with Kitti, a 12-year-old Boxer/Pit Bull/Terrier Mix, and Kitti was killed, according to a statement from the county's Public Health Department, which oversees the county's animal shelters.
"An employee accidentally left a kennel gate open, allowing multiple dogs to have direct contact with each other," the statement said.
Kitti had been in the Santa Barbara County Animal Shelter since June 12, following an incident in which she attacked another dog, resulting in its death.
"Kitti was being kept in a separate area of the kennel where she did not have regular contact with other animals, and had been designated as a 'dangerous dog' after a hearing on July 1," the county said.
Any dog declared to be a dangerous dog requires the animal be humanely destroyed, the county stated, and Kitti was being held in the kennel awaiting a potential appeal of the finding by the dog’s owner.
"The entire agency is extremely concerned about the incident and is taking immediate steps to review the procedures in place to ensure it cannot happen again," the statement said.
"We take very seriously the need to protect the animals in our care and know that while this was a tragic mistake, it was an unacceptable death of an animal in our care."
The employee responsible is "extremely upset" about what happened and the county stated that once a complete set of facts is known about what happened, they will take personnel actions if necessary.
"We extend deep sorrow to Kitti's owners," the statement said.
Several in the rescue community expressed shock at the event on Friday, including Elizabeth Mazzetti, President of Second Chance Cocker Rescue Inc.
"It's just inexcusable," she said.
Mazzetti said that safety concerns at the shelter have been raised before, and that the dog's owner "is just devastated."
"All of the volunteers are really upset," she said.
As for the animals, "if there's one place they should be safe, it's the shelter."