Warning: This story may disturb some readers.
Richard Gambord’s service dog went missing on August 12.
Gambord and his dog, Quinn, were coming back from an outing. Quinn, a 15-month-old Golden Retriever, began to choke, and while Gambord looked back to check on his dog, he crashed the van into some bushes on a freeway in San Jose, California. The van’s door opened and Quinn ran off.
For a week, this Los Gatos resident led a team of people to try and find his service dog. Gambord has multiple sclerosis, and he had received Quinn just three weeks before to help him. Gambord said that his service dog had already assisted him in taking a few steps without falling.
Unfortunately, Quinn was nowhere to be found. Instead, Gambord learned some awful news about what happened to his dog.
His missing service dog was killed by a car about an hour after Gambord crashed his van. But then instead of taking the dog’s body to an animal shelter, a Caltrans (the state’s department of transportation) worker took the dog to a rendering plant.
Gambord was devastated to find out that his dog’s body had already been disposed of. He said that his service dog was treated with no more respect than motorists show squashed squirrels.
“It’s just so sickening,” Gambord said. “They took this esteemed and loved dog and hauled him away like he was roadkill. It makes me sick.”
The worker violated Caltrans policy by taking Quinn to the rendering plant. Road employees are supposed to take the body of a dog or a cat to an animal shelter, so it can be scanned for a micro chip. Then the owner can be notified of the animal’s death.
A spokesperson for Caltrans, Brigetta Smith, said they are reviewing its procedures “to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
The California Highway Patrol Officer who took Quinn’s body from the highway told Caltrans that the dog was wearing a collar and its purple service uniform. The Caltrans employee said he did not see a collar or uniform.
“I’ve asked our guys to review the agreement we have with the rendering plant to make sure they won’t accept domestic animals from us,” Smith said. “There should be safeguards on both ends.”
She added that Caltrans used to bring all dead animals from roads to the rendering plant, but they changed their procedures two years to only take wild animals to the rendering plant.
Caltrans used to have a contract with the humane society, so they could drop off bodies of cats or dogs that had been killed on a roadway, but “Caltrans chose not to renew it,” said Chris Benninger, executive director of Humane Society Silicon Valley.”
The staff at the Assistance Dog Institute, where Quinn was trained, will hold a memorial for the beloved service dog. They also plan to meet to discuss what happened and see if any good can come out of this tragedy.
Source: San Jose Mercury News