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Sailor Finds Out Her Dog Was Euthanized While She Was Deployed

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By Valerie ChenWhen 29-year-old U.S. Navy petty officer Emily Valenzuela returned home to San Diego from seven months at sea, she couldn’t wait to see her beloved dog Bert. But Valenzuela's high hopes were crushed when her puggle was nowhere in sight. It turns out that Bert was turned over to the county’s Department of Animal Services and euthanized—all without her knowledge or consent.

Prior to her deployment in November, she had brokered a deal with her cousin, Christa Valenzuela: Christa would receive free rent in their shared apartment on the sole condition of TLC aplenty for Bert.

But the untrained dog was too much to handle for Christa, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. He bit her, and he ran away.He defecated and urinated everywhere in the apartment. Christa said she lost Emily's email address and wasn't sure what to do, so she turned the dog in to animal services after three weeks.

The county employees said they couldn't handle the dog either. Bert bit workers when they tried to vaccinate him. Other rescue groups turned the dog down, too. San Diego County Department of Animal Services spokesman Dan DeSousa explained to U-T San Diego, "The dog was probably fearful. We understand that, but we just could not touch this dog at all."

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Emily first heard the news that Bert had been put in a shelter during a phone conversation with her cousin on her way home, and she thought it was a joke. Then, after posting a note on Craigslist for help locating the dog, Emily discovered Bert’s true fate on Tuesday. She had had the dog since April 2011.

"It was definitely not the homecoming I was expecting to have," she said.

Emily wants to press charges against her cousin, but the police said they refuse to intervene in a civil matter.

Christa said she feels guilty that the dog ended up getting euthanized, but she says her cousin could have done a better job making sure the pet-sitting job would go smoothly. She told the Union-Tribune: "She knew the dog and I didn’t get along. I told her the problems I had with the dog, and she never trained him. If she had trained the dog and kept in communication with me, the dog would still be here."