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Astoria woman distraught after city puts her dog to sleep

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A 94−year−old Astoria woman was distraught after the city put her 13−year−old collie to sleep within hours after her arrival at a city shelter rather than holding the dog for the required 72 hours, the woman’s daughter said.

Jane Guardascione was devastated to find out that her pet, Angel, had been euthanized at a city animal shelter within less than a day after the dog disappeared, said Carole Guardascio­ne−Miller, her daughter.

“We’re not trying to sue the city, but we want to make sure this does not happen again,” she said. “It was somebody’s error and it should be looked into.”

On April 10, Angel went missing from her owner’s Astoria home and was soon picked up by the city’s Animal Care and Control office. But the agency, which is supposed to hold animals for three days before putting them to sleep or up for adoption, euthanized the dog within hours after its arrival, City Councilman Tony Avella (D−Bayside) said.

“There appears to be a complete breakdown of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s policy to keep strays for at least 72 hours,” said Avella, who has submitted a Freedom of Information Law request to obtain records following the dog’s euthanization.

A spokeswoman for the city’s Animal Care and Control office said departmental policy dictates that an animal must be kept for 72 hours unless its health is considered to be in poor condition. But the agency determined that Angel was “gravely ill,” she said.

Guardascio­ne−Miller said her mother is currently staying with her in Suffolk County because she does not want to return to an empty home.

“I bred the dog and gave it to her as a companion,” she said. “It’s been with her at least 10 years. Angel was her best friend.”

She said an Astoria woman had found the dog and dropped it off at Manhattan’s Animal Control office, where she was told the dog would not be put to sleep for several days. The woman then came home and put up fliers about the found dog around the community, Guardascio­ne−Miller said.

The family was later told about the dog’s whereabouts, but had difficulty getting through to the Animal Control office. Later in the day, they were told they could pick up Angel the following morning.

But the next day, Guardascione and her daughter traveled to the shelter and were told the dog was not at the site.

Later that day, they received a call from a veterinarian who told them that the dog had been euthanized because it was in poor condition. But Guardascio­ne−Miller said the dog was in decent health despite being older.

“The worst part of it is that the dog didn’t need to be put down — she just had a little arthritis,” she said.

The Animal Care and Control office said in a statement “we express our deepest sympathies to Angel’s owner and family.

The spokeswoman said Angel was brought in limping and collapsed. The dog eventually stopped responding to technicians at the care center, prompting the doctor to put her to sleep, she said.

“Despite the efforts of the medical team who cared for her, she showed no signs of improvement,” the agency said. “A lost and found check was completed to see if we could identify her owner, but there was no match. Because of her deteriorating condition and advanced age, the vet made the decision to euthanize Angel in an effort to prevent any additional suffering.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e−mail at nduke@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 156.

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