Interim Pine Bluff Police Chief Jeff Hubanks said Friday that he has apologized to a local couple for the recent accidental euthanization of a dog at the Pine Bluff Animal Shelter, which was brought under the police department’s authority earlier this year.

Interim Pine Bluff Police Chief Jeff Hubanks said Friday that he has apologized to a local couple for the recent accidental euthanization of a dog at the Pine Bluff Animal Shelter, which was brought under the police department’s authority earlier this year.


"We made a mistake, pure and simple," Hubanks said of the incident. "We hate it, but hope we have learned from our error."


But Lyle Lovelace-Williams said she and her husband, Frank Williams, aren’t satisfied with an apology.


Lovelace-Williams said she thinks a couple who earlier this month apparently abandoned a house near the Williams’ residence in the 3600 block of Cherry Street should be charged for "leaving the dog to die."


She said the dog — which she said was weakened after several days without food or water — was retrieved from a padlocked back yard.


The Williamses took the dog to a veterinarian. Lovelace-Williams said the dog was found to have heart worms, and she and her husband paid for treatment to be initiated.


When the dog was released, the Williamses turned it over to the animal shelter with instructions for personnel to attempt to have the dog adopted or secured by a rescue service. If such didn’t occur, the Williamses — who intended to finance the remainder of the dog’s heart worm treatments regardless — were to be contacted so they could bring the dog to their home, which they already share with three dogs.


A few days later, the Williamses were advised that the dog had been euthanized. Lovelace-Williams said there was no excuse for the miscue, especially since the dog’s records were supposedly tagged with the no-kill information.


"We investigated and determined that the person responsible for benchmarking a coding card on the dog failed to do so," Hubanks said. "As a result, the dog was unfortunately euthanized."


The employee was not disciplined, he said, adding that the error was unintentional.


Williams confronted police Lt. Michael Jenkins, the animal shelter’s supervisor, at the facility. Lovelace-Williams spoke to Jenkins by telephone, and then called Mayor Debe Hollingsworth’s office, speaking with Hollingsworth and her top aide, Evelyn Horton. Lovelace-Williams said she and her husband were displeased by Jenkins’ reaction to the incident.


"I just want people to be aware of what happened," Lovelace-Williams said. "The situation at the animal shelter needs to get better. They have to have people who care if it’s going to be successful. I feel like this was mishandled and I wasn’t respected as a citizen. Now I’m trying to regain my love for my city again."


She added that the experience has chilled her desire to serve as a volunteer at the shelter.


"If I find any other animals in need of help, I think I might just take care of them myself," she said. "But I know they need volunteers there, and I admire their volunteers. And they need people to donate cat and dog food, pet supplies and cash, too. And I hope people will remember that the cats and dogs there need to be adopted into loving, caring homes.


"I won’t ever buy another dog," she continued. "There are great dogs available for adoption at the animal shelter. But I want the public to remember that it’s not a no-kill shelter, and if you surrender a dog or a cat, they can be put down. I want the mayor to keep an eye on things there."


Lovelace-Williams said she was to have been told of the results from a meeting on the matter by Hollingsworth, Hubanks and Jenkins, but hasn’t received a report.


Hubanks said steps are being taken to help make certain a similar mistake doesn’t occur again. A new identification and instruction program on animals is being added to the facility’s computers. A photo of each animal will be included in the profiles.