Police chief, animal officer suspended; community wants them fired after shooting dogs

The Winona Board of Aldermen this week suspended Police Chief Roshaun Daniels without pay while they decide what action to take after he ordered a new employee to clear the town's animal shelter and handed the man a gun.

It was Animal Control Officer Vidal Anderson's first day on the job, Alderwoman Sylvia Clark said, when he was ordered to shoot to death several dogs that were past the legal number of days they could be held at the shelter before they could be euthanized.

"I felt that was a very inhumane way to do the dogs the way they did," Clark said. "They never did that before. I did not like the way that was handled."

Anderson also was suspended until the board meets again on the matter — within 10 days.

One of a number of dogs who were shot at Winona City Pound by an Animal Control Officer on his first day of work, according to animal rights groups.
One of a number of dogs who were shot at Winona City Pound by an Animal Control Officer on his first day of work, according to animal rights groups.

"We are grateful to the Board who ‘suspended them without pay for 10 days and put the matter under consideration," Doll Stanley, Justice for Animals Campaign senior campaigner for In Defense of Animals, said in a news release. "We urge them to make the right decision and terminate their employment. The very thought that Winona authorities would choose to save city funds by callously executing trusting and innocent animals is appalling."

Shelter dogs shot:Animal rights groups, residents question the way shelter dogs were euthanized.

The city has measures in place to address overcrowding, but with unaltered dogs, the dog population is steadily increasing.

Clark praised residents for making sure their pets aren't running around the city but a female dog in heat that is left outside will inevitably get pregnant.

"While people have been chaining their dogs, they're leaving the females outside, so guess what," Clark said. "That's been a big problem."

The city-run shelter recently was placed under the police department's authority. Stanley wants to see control of the shelter returned to the city.

"Animal care must immediately be brought back under control of the mayor, not law enforcement," Stanley said.

Columbia mayor:Police shot 8 dogs at animal shelter. But it was legal and humane.

Stanley said she and members of the Winona Animal Advocacy Group are calling for the resignation of both men.

Stanley attended Tuesday's Board of Aldermen's standing-room-only meeting in which residents expressed shock, sadness and outrage over the method the city chose to end the lives of the dogs in their care.

Protesters held up signs outside city hall and passersby honked in a show of support, Stanley said.

Stanley said she and WAAG member Carol Griffin found the dogs' bodies in the city dumpster. Stanley states that on March 9, Anderson and an inmate were seen unloading four dogs from the city truck, tethering them, and then shooting them.

In Defense of Animals' Hope Animal Sanctuary is providing free spay and neuter services to anyone who adopts from the Winona shelter until funding runs out, Stanley said.

"The hurting hearts of Winona must act to stop animal homelessness by spaying and neutering our animals, and keeping them safe in our homes or fenced yards,” Stanley said.

Animal activist groups and people in the community and around the state have reached out to the Mississippi city of roughly 4,500 to donate money and ask what they can do to help, Clark said.

"A lot of people want to help, but they don't know what to do," Clark said.

It is unclear whether shooting is an acceptable method of euthanizing dogs in Mississippi. However, Mississippi Code 41-53-11 allows officials to euthanize unclaimed dogs after holding them a number of days but does not specify a means of euthanizing the animals. American Veterinary Medicine Association guidelines say shooting dogs is an acceptable method of euthanizing them.

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This article originally appeared on Mississippi Clarion Ledger: Winona MS police chief, animal control officer suspended after dogs shot killed