OCALA, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - Staff at the Humane Society of Marion County are distraught over the death of 1-year-old Rollin. "Everybody's devastated about this tragic accident," said Bruce Fishalow, the organization's executive director. Fishalow said Rollin, an Australian Shepard mix, died Friday after he was left inside a Humane Society van for about two hours during an adoption event at a PetsMart on State Road 200.
Fishalow explained, "It was a perfect storm of miscommunication. I mean, everybody pretty much followed what they thought they were doing what was right." Fishalow said Rollin and another dog were removed from the store for barking excessively. Fishalow said a volunteer put the dogs in the back of the van, and secured the gates. According to Fishalow, while a Humane Society driver was driving them back to the shelter, one of the dogs escaped a crate, and made its way up here to the caged off passenger area. Fishalow said the worker got the one dog, which he says, she was told was inside the van. Fishalow said the driver didn't look for Rollin, because the dog was quiet and the driver had no idea Rollin was inside the van.
Fishalow said, "She just didn't know there was a second dog put in there. When the other dog escaped, and she saw it, she thought that was the dog she was getting." The driver has been employed by the Humane Society for at least eight years, said Fishalow. He said there was no intent in this incident. He added disciplinary action against the driver or reassignment is possible within the next week. "It's tragic. She's devastated," Fishalow said.
Ironically, this incident happened the same day Fishalow said attended an animal abuse and neglect prevention event. There will be stricter rules in place by Friday, what he calls 'Rollin's rules' including a loading and unloading manifest. Those rules will also require every kennel to be looked into, and every door physically opened. Fishalow said he hopes it will prevent other animal deaths. "We sure don't want Rollin to die in vain," Fishalow said.
Steve Pawlowski, Media Relations Manager for PetsMart Charities, sent a statement about the incident to FOX35 saying, "We were saddened to learn of the incident in Ocala on Friday, and it's our understanding it was a tragic accident. The Humane Society of Marion County has been a strong adoption partner with us for many years, and we've offered the organization our support during this difficult time."