Vet claims Waynesboro K-9 didn't have to die

Meth-related poisoning is called into question

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The Waynesboro, Ga., Police Department has launched an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of a police dog after the veterinarian who euthanized it said the dog did not appear to have been beyond help, as its handler claimed.

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Po Po, a 2-year-old German shepherd, was put down two days after he stepped in meth-producing chemicals, Petitt said.  Zach Boyden-Holmes/File
Zach Boyden-Holmes/File
Po Po, a 2-year-old German shepherd, was put down two days after he stepped in meth-producing chemicals, Petitt said.

The department held a memorial service for the dog, Po Po, on Wednesday, where Officer Bruce Petitt said the dog had stepped in meth-producing chemicals during a warrant service two days before and apparently ingested or absorbed them.

Petitt said a veterinarian had told him it was too late to save the dog, so it had been put down.

But Friday, Dr. Sarah Ford, the veterinarian who put the dog to sleep, said Po Po did not appear to have symptoms of poisoning.

"I work with dogs every day that have been poisoned by different chemicals, and he certainly didn't exhibit any symptoms that a poisoned dog would have," said Ford, of the Burke County Animal Hospital.

Ford said Petitt made an appointment two days after the chemical contact strictly for euthanasia. No toxicology reports were filed through her office.

But Petitt acknowledged that a urine test was performed by an Augusta lab and that no trace of narcotics was found.

Petitt, who has been a handler since 1980, told Ford that Po Po was having 10 seizures a day.

"When I saw the dog, I was expecting to see some out-of-it, drooling, staggering type situation," Ford said, "but that dog was normal."

Because the dog was Petitt's personal property, Ford said law obligates her to honor his request for euthanasia, but not before recommending alternate care.

"Because the dog acted normal, I said that we should really hospitalize the dog and give him a chance," she said. "Every canine unit that I've ever talked to would give their right arm for the dog and give them every last chance."

Petitt denies that these suggestions were ever made. He said Ford commented that Po Po was either losing or had already lost his vision.

"If anybody would have given me any possibility that this dog could recover, there's no way I would be going through this or putting my kids and half of my department through this," Petitt said Friday. "If Dr. Ford said she said there was anything that could save him then she's an absolute liar."

Another veterinarian, Dr. Bruce Gradous, saw the dog before it was brought to Ford.

Gradous would not discuss his treatment of Po Po, but Petitt said Gradous put the dog on anti-seizure medication and flushed its system with IVs. He said Gradous was the one who suggested that Po Po had come into contact with meth.

Seizure medication, however, didn't seem to improve the dog's conditions, Petitt said. Gradous was ready to put Po Po to sleep, but Petitt said he wasn't ready and waited a day before taking the dog to Ford.

Police Chief Karl Allen said he had just learned of Ford's complaints Friday morning and that the department would investigate but he could give no further details.

Though Po Po belonged to Pettit, the city was about to contract to lease the dog for $1,000 per month. Documents were to have been signed by the City Council's Public Safety Committee on May 17, according to Chairman Richard Byne.

The committee still plans to lease Dee-Moe, another dog of Petitt's. Byne said the committee was comfortable staying with the handler because of Po Po's success.

"This is a big investigation because the dog has done such a great job," Byne said. "I think Officer Petitt is a great officer and we respect him very much, but this is something we need to follow up on."

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IntegrityMatters
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IntegrityMatters 05/28/10 - 05:47 pm
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Riverman, I think the only

Riverman, I think the only thing everyone AGREES on is that the meth story is not true.

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 05/28/10 - 11:13 pm
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Exactly the point,

Exactly the point, IntegrityMatters. Since the "meth chemical" story is not true, then the officer is not to be trusted. Therefore, the police department must not enter into an agreement whereby they lease a K-9 dog from this officer.

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 05/28/10 - 11:31 pm
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Corgimom wrote on May 28 @

Corgimom wrote on May 28 @ 10:30 a.m.:

Let this GO and let Officer Petitt and his family grieve and heal.

I am willing to let this go - - -

I am willing to let Officer Petitt and his family grieve and heal - - -

but only after Officer Petitt repents and changes the direction of his career. He must forego the leasing of animals to the Waynesboro Police Department so long as he is an employee of that department. To do otherwise is an ethical conflict of interest.

30cal
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30cal 05/29/10 - 08:24 am
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I would still like to know

I would still like to know WHAT the FIRST VET SAID ,as I train my DOGs and they are family members this could help many pet owners perhaps he WAS wrong , but if he dont speak up I will continue to drive the extra 40 miles to AGUSTA. ALLthis officers problems seem to be, of the 1st VET'S MAKING

30cal
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30cal 05/29/10 - 08:31 am
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akmoose: I have had 4

akmoose: I have had 4 dogs(companions)cremated this seems to be standard ,a quick cremation. AS animals are not usually enbalmed it is necessary tobe fairly timely about it.

akmoose
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akmoose 05/29/10 - 09:16 am
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30cal - I was just adding the

30cal - I was just adding the piece to the puzzle. Someone had quoted Dr. Ford as saying the officer was in a hurry to euthanize the dog and cremate asap, along with the fact that the evidence collected from the home was thrown away...all those things put together seemed he was trying to cover up the real reason for the dog's need to be euthanized (that being the aggravated epilepsy) and try to use the drug bust as a "line of duty" story.
I understand the need for cremation so I wasn't saying it was a bad thing, just questionable when coinciding with other facts in the case.

IntegrityMatters
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IntegrityMatters 05/29/10 - 11:28 am
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Well some good questions to

Well some good questions to ask at this point would be, precisely when did the officer coordinate the cremation? Was it done that day or the day before? As in when did he really decide to put the dog down?

Then I would ask why he told the reporter at the True Citizen this: "Petitt said that in the end, Po Po quit eating, drinking and producing urine and appeared to be on the verge of a physical breakdown."

That sounds like he's trying to describe poisoning...it has NOTHING to do with epilepsy. And it doesn't sound like either vet saw or reported these symptoms either. Why did he say it?

Oh, and since we're talking about such a short amount of time and popofan says the dog was sedated...obviously a sedated dog won't spend much time eating and drinking, but Petit would know his dog was sedated...

You can't explain this stuff away except to say that there has been intentional dishonesty.

akmoose
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akmoose 05/29/10 - 12:08 pm
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Integrity - do you really

Integrity - do you really think we'll ever get ANY of those answers or that they will investigate this thoroughly and honestly and have a suitable outcome of justice? And what IS a suitable outcome?
I'm not being facetious, I'm just asking if any of the really good points brought up and very reasonable questions will ever get answers or will it all get swept under the rug in hopes it will be forgotten.
It's becoming very apparent that the officer was far less than honest, but why?
It's all just so sad.

167167
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167167 05/29/10 - 01:28 pm
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LOL, akm, I AM being

LOL, akm, I AM being facetious. Didn't I read that it has been decided that there has been no criminal wrong-doing and that the chief of WPD will therefore investigate? Need I say more? The chief? He couldn't be a bigger joke. The whole WPD is pretty much a joke, with the exception of a few who are the minority and can't do much to turn the department around.

IntegrityMatters
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IntegrityMatters 05/29/10 - 03:05 pm
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I think a suitable outcome at

I think a suitable outcome at this point is to not have people we can't trust on the police force. If nothing happens after all this, it won't just be the officer who let the public down, the chief and city council will also be to blame. They still have a chance to do the right thing. If they don't, people need to speak up.

akmoose
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akmoose 05/29/10 - 04:02 pm
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Well - 167167 - you DO have a

Well - 167167 - you DO have a point there. :) Guess I'm just hoping?

167167
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167167 05/29/10 - 08:11 pm
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You know, I'm almost to the

You know, I'm almost to the point that I really don't even care. I first was very interested b/c I wanted to know if the poor dog was truly perfectly healthy & normal and why the officer would have euthanized such a wonderful dog (if he were actually healthy & normal). I was going to be livid if the officer had some "behind the scenes" reason to euthanize PoPo if he were truly healthy and well. I almost felt all along that he wasn't that evil though.
Then, as the story has unfolded, I've come to believe that it was PoPo's fate to be euthanized as he would have been a danger to everyone and would have had no quality of life if he always had to be restrained from all human and animal contact. I feel great relief in knowing that he was not unnecessarily euthanized.
Now, that I know the officer simply lied about the "how's and why's," I'm sure that it will be handled like everything else in Waynesboro -- it won't!
I truly believe we are in a situation of hopelessness with our system of justice. Most of the time, criminals are not even caught, and when they are, they are turned right back out into our community. We have no law or protection here.

akmoose
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akmoose 05/29/10 - 10:54 pm
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And THAT is the truth!!

And THAT is the truth!!

IntegrityMatters
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IntegrityMatters 05/30/10 - 08:17 am
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167, I'm not sure I would go

167, I'm not sure I would go that far as to say Po Po's fate was to be euthanized. Unless Dr. Gradous made this diagnosis from multiple visits and had already determined this, I don't think anyone gave it a chance. Seizure medicine takes more than 36 hours to work. What if it had worked for Po Po? Maybe he couldn't be a police dog, but he could be a pet if it kept the seizures under control. He was 2 years old...no one can say he couldn't adapt to not working this early.
Another question I have that could have some relevance is did the dog ever act aggressive to anyone other than the officer? Maybe the behavioral problems with the handler were so bad the dog stressed out from that and had seizures. It's not impossible that removing the dog from the handler would have fixed some of the problem.
I'm still not satisfied with the answers we have so far.
But I agree that there are serious issues with local law enforcement. And that is very sad to have to say.

167167
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167167 05/30/10 - 09:41 am
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Integrity, for the first

Integrity, for the first time, I probably have to disagree with you. Now, I'm not sure that this was the first time Gradous had seen PoPo. Remember too the other incidences of aggressive behavior the officer mentioned -- the "accident" that resulted in stitches and the "carbon monoxide episodes." The officer probably shared these with Gradous as well. Now, I know that Dr. Gradous witnessed the seizures, and he said the dog was extremely dangerous.
I don't think the quality of life for the dog would be over simply because he couldn't work anymore. Instead, I think the quality of life would be over because he would have to be restrained 24/7. As a I said before, you can somewhat control epileptic seizures with meds, BUT that doesn't mean the seizures would never take place. I really can't see any person keeping a pet that just might (even if no more than once a year or even once in a lifetime) have a seizure and attack a family member, friend, or other pet. Let's be realistic. Let's say that the officer kept the dog on meds, and two months later, he had a seizure while playing with the kids and mauled one of the kids, what would people be saying then?
No, I believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that PoPo needed to be euthanized. I believe this not only because of my 100% confidence in Gradous, but also because PoPo (of all dogs) would be extremely dangerous in aggressive mode. He is trained to attack with force. Only commands from the officer call him off. Therefore, when he is incapable of receiving those commands (during a seizure), he is basically trained to kill. No, I don't believe the meds should have been given time. I definitely believe that PoPo should have been euthanized.
Now, my parents have an epileptic dog, but she is a small dog. Phenobarbitol controls her seizures for the most part, but she does occasionally have them. She is not aggressive because her epilepsy is not of the aggressive type. However, even if she were aggressive during the seizures, we would not have her euthanized simply because she is small enough to be controlled, and any damage she would do would be very mild. Unfortunately, that was not the case for sweet PoPo.

IntegrityMatters
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IntegrityMatters 05/30/10 - 01:57 pm
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167, I think you've had some

167, I think you've had some of the best insight of anyone posting here, so no issues with respectful disagreement. I'll step through where I'm stuck now, and maybe you can help me with it...

From this weeks True Citizen: "Dr. Gradous declined a request for a written statement but verbally indicated, as did Dr. Ford, that there seemed to be problems between the handler and the dog that were not related to illness or chemical exposure."

Both vets say problem between the handler and the dog. That line struck me when I read it the very first time. My question, based on that, is did this dog EVER show aggression toward anyone other than his handler? Officer Cates said in the article that the dog was (sounded depressed) not playing with it's ball or looking at him, not that it was aggressive toward him. I'm in no way trying to argue against the vets, just still don't have the gut feeling that we're at the final answer. I think my opinion can still go either way based on the answer to this question.

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 05/30/10 - 09:21 pm
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When is reporter Bianca Cain

When is reporter Bianca Cain coming back to work to update this story?

167167
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167167 05/30/10 - 10:27 pm
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Wow, Integrity, when I read

Wow, Integrity, when I read that story in The True Citizen, I evidently skipped over that little part. I just reread, & I see where you are going. I do feel, though, that Dr. Gradous is a vet much more concerned with the welfare of animals than he is with pleasing the humans that own them. Therefore, I guess that because I KNOW that he did truly see the dog as very dangerous and did feel strongly that he should be euthanized, I trust that the dog should have been euthanized. Does that make sense? Even if he saw problems between the dog and handler, he still diagnosed the dog with aggressive epilepsy, and he still felt that the dog should be euthanized. What are you thinking? Oh, and yes, my disagreeing earlier was definitely with all due respect for your very intelligent contributions to this discussion.

akmoose
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akmoose 05/31/10 - 10:22 am
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I think for the most part

I think for the most part everyone agrees the dog needed to be euthanized, the question still stands as to why the officer felt the need to sway the media and the public into believing it was due to "in the line of duty".
Animal lovers have the same amount of sympathy for the loss of a pet whether it be in the line of duty or an unfortunate disease...a loss is a loss...but to play on that sympathy is just bizarre. And there again, that begs the question was there some kind of personal monetary gain by doing so?
Frustrating.

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