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Jessica Evans: Injustice caused by Augusta County Animal Control, SVASC

svasc animal pet euthanization
Annabelle, photo by Jessica Evans

This is a letter by Jessica Evans sent to the Augusta County Board of Supervisors, Staunton City Council and Waynesboro City Council.

Hello, I’m writing in reference to the injustice caused by Augusta Animal Control and SVASC. As well as disappointment in Waynesboro city council, who did not take my call being the only one in queue through the whole meeting. Along with major disappointment in Augusta County BOS.

My statement is as follows from the incident regarding my Annabelle and 3 other dogs who were euthanized wrongfully.

On the night of 2/28/23 there was a structure fire on hollow road, both dogs were barking and howling at the sirens. After all the noise was over, I went out and checked on Annabelle and the other dog. I petted them and returned into my house and went to sleep.

I woke up the next morning (3/1/23) at 6:30 and she was gone. I sent my kids off to school shortly after. As I was getting ready for work my boyfriend searched for her. On my way to work we went down Augusta Springs Rd. Looking all around for her. My boyfriend continued to look for her throughout the day. I got home around 3 p.m. and we continued to search to no avail. Around 10-11 pm that night I looked on the SVASC website and found her as “Stray dog at large on Katie Drive” not even a block from my home.

3/2/23 I called Augusta Animal Control , my call was returned soon after by the ACO who told me she was picked up before dawn on 3/1/23 before 6 am trying to get to the neighbors chickens but that she did NOT kill or maim any of them that if she had I would have been charged with a Felony; Dog at large and court to replace damages incurred. He said I could pay the required fine fees and take my receipt to Lyndhurst to pick her up.

I told the ACO that was a problem as I don’t get paid until the 15th (once a month) I was then told if I couldn’t, to surrender her. I told the ACO I had to work the morning that my son had an appointment in Verona that afternoon and I would come sign the paperwork. I showed up that afternoon with my 14 year old son, filled out the paper with her info and instructions for her. I asked asked the receptionist with my 14 year old son there beside me when I got paid if I could readopt her, she responded after the stray hold (5-10 days) that would be fine that there shouldn’t be a problem with that.

I was NEVER informed she would be subject to being euthanized at all.

I looked for her on SVASC every day for updates, she just disappeared like she never existed.

I woke up on Monday 3/6/23and seen she was killed along with 3 others.

She was NOT aggressive, she had NEVER bit anyone or killed ANY animals. We have had her since September 2021 this was her first time offense and only time ever being picked up by Augusta Animal Control.

She was a blessing to us, smart, sweet and kind. She loved hugs and belly rubs, she was also a service dog for the previous owner and my daughter when she had seizures. A few months prior I was subject to potentially having to move to an apartment so I had posted an ad on Craigslist for rehoming, due to a change in my housing situation it was no longer necessary to rehome our girl.

What was thought to be a “freedom ride” was her “LAST RIDE” along with 3 other potentials.

We lost more than a dog, we lost a fur baby and a piece of our family. I can’t find it in myself to tell my 7 year old daughter where her “Fluffo” is or that she was murdered in the least.

What is done cannot be undone, the ACO and Jon at SVASC have failed the community, the rescues, the advocates but mostly my children, my boyfriend and myself.

I am born and raised from Augusta County, a tax payer and employee for Augusta County Schools I feel let down and demoralized by Augusta County Board of supervisors, especially Tim Fitzgerald who blatantly insinuated I was a liar. I also do NOT appreciate the lack of accountability in this matter, no condolences to my family or those affected by this unjust action.

Thank you ever so kindly for your support in getting not only justice for our baby but for these other babies as well.

Other concerns are as follows no one has any valid reason to have killed Annabelle, my email has been disregarded by Jon Hilbert, A Staff member from SVASC have even said she was NOT aggressive that she was very sweet and loved having her belly rubbed that she did NOT deserve this. She was at the Augusta Meeting as well her name was Dorothy Via.

Also how you do allow an ACO such as Dwight Strickler who is a power manipulator to serve the county of AUGUSTA, he should not be allowed to have any power especially to put fear into the community. How do you continuously sweep these issues under the rug? Why are you all constantly covering his actions? I’m aware he has done this job for many years, maybe all this time this has caused his desensitization of animal and power stricken actions. I am NOT the only person in this community who has dealt with this unlawful behavior.

We need change and we need it NOW! This isn’t going to disappear, we will NOT stop. As a community who pays for these services and salaries by taxation we will NOT let this go.

Jessica Evans lives on Augusta Springs Road in Craigsville. Read more on the story below.


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