11 dogs confiscated in Leeds' attack case now at Crossroads Animal Hospital
by Will Heath
MOODY — Dr. Rachel Nelson and the employees at Crossroads Animal Hospital on Friday unloaded 11 dogs that were condemned to death last week.

The dogs — all Rottweiler and Rottweiler mixes — were confiscated from the home of Jerry and Jacqueline Lenton, of Leeds, after of the Lentons’ dogs attacked and killed William Donald Thomas, an 83-year-old neighbor, on Sept. 20. St. Clair District Judge Alan Furr, who ruled last week that all the animals confiscated from the Lentons’ property should be euthanized, issued a ruling Thursday afternoon essentially releasing the animals to the care of Birmingham-Jefferson Animal Control.

“The BJCAC is hereby granted the sole authority and discretion to determine the proper disposition of each animal,” the ruling reads in part, “… including, without limitation, which of the animals shall be humanely euthanized and which of the seized animals shall be transferred to an appropriate animal rescue group or placed for adoption.”

Nelson, who performed the autopsy on the two dogs that attacked Thomas — both were killed at the scene by Leeds police officers — had attempted to intercede in the case last week, after Furr’s initial ruling. She said her facility will house 11 of the dogs, with the remaining 17 — five have already been euthanized — going to facilities in Shelby County.

“Emotionally, it’s amazing,” Nelson said. “You’re looking at 11 dogs that should have been euthanized. We were told they would be just over a week ago.

“A lot of these dogs are great candidates to go to good homes.”

Nelson said an animal behaviorist from Auburn University visited the dogs in Birmingham for evaluation, and they were able to report those findings to influence the court’s decision.

The dogs were removed from the Lentons’ home on the evening of Sept. 20, after Thomas died as the result of the attack. Furr ordered on Oct. 3 that they be euthanized, after testimony that the dogs were “vicious and have vicious tendencies and could not be safely placed and/or adopted.” Nelson and officials from animal control subsequently filed a petition asking to evaluate each dog individually, and the court officially heard the case Thursday.

Crossroads is currently accepting applications for anyone interested in adopting any of the dogs, but said the screening process would be vigorous. Furthermore, the dogs will require additional screening, to determine whether they will be adoptable.

“We’re going to start spaying and neutering them,” Nelson said. “After that we will further assess them for their adoptability.”

Nelson added that the hospital is accepting donations on the dogs’ behalf, as well. Specifically, her office is in need of food (Pedigree is preferable) and Martingale collars. The hospital received a donation of heartworm prevention medicine from vendors, and Nelson said she hopes a charity will donate certificates to cover the cost of spay and neuter for the dogs.

“I think the positive thing we can say is these dogs were removed from the horrible situation they were in,” she said. “Now they get a chance at freedom.”

Contact Will Heath at wheath@thestclairtimes.com.

© 2012