Lily, a pit bull that had been rescued by Patricia Agnello, was ready to go to her “forever” home with her new “fur mom,” Shelley Loudermilk, when she suddenly turned on both women and viciously attacked them as they attempted to put her in Loudermilk’s car on Wednesday, reports Fox4Now.
Broward County Animal Control verified they had given Lily, a 18-month-old pit bull, to Patricia Agnello, who operates an animal “rescue” organization, three weeks ago to be placed up for adoption through Helping Paws 22, an organization that rescues dogs at high risk for euthanasia.
A YouTube video posted on April 6, 2013, indicates it is the celebration of the first anniversary of Helping Paws 22, which reportedly is run from Agnello’s home.
On the day of the attack Loudermilk had reportedly driven all the way from Columbus, Ga., to Fort Myer, Fla., to adopt Lily.
Lee County Sheriff’s deputies and animal control officers responded to the home on Homestead Lane after receiving a call about an out-of-control dog.
According to Patricia’s son, Christopher, when he heard the screams of the two women, he ran outside and jumped on Lily to stop the attack. Lilly responded by trying to attack his face, Wordpress.com reports.
A neighbor and friend, Marie Wilton, stated that she called 911 when she witnessed the savage mauling taking place.
She then ran into the Agnellos’ yard with a knife and stabbed Lilly in the rib cage to make her stop attacking the women.
The Agnellos were able to subdue Lily, muzzle her and secure her in a kennel. However, before officers arrived, Lily had died from her stab wounds.
Patricia Agnello and Shelley Loudermilk were transported to Lee Memorial Hospital with lacerations and puncture wounds, according to Fox4Now.
Agnellos is out of the hospital recovering from her injuries and Loudermilk has returned home to Georgia.
IS IT TIME TO START REGULATING “ANIMAL RESCUERS?’
Agnello told Fox4Now she never saw the attack coming.
"From the day this dog arrived, she was really a sweetheart,” Agnello said. “She was exposed to the other dogs, to people, to children. I spend 10 to 12 hours a day with these dogs."
She says she keeps about eight dogs at a time.
"I will walk them alone," she said. "I will walk them with other dogs. I will sit on the floor, hand them treats, take the food away to check for signs of aggression."
Although Agnello claims she “did everything right” in preparing Lily for adoption, there is no governmental entity at any level that oversees the activities of animal rescues or their facilities in Florida, nor — with few exceptions — nationwide. There are also no requirements for training or experience nor any license or permit issued in most cities or counties before an individual or group can declares themselves an “animal rescue.”
An easily attainable 501(c) 3 tax-exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service is merely a decision that the organization can collect donations. It does not signify qualifications or competency in operating an animal rescue nor does it require any experience in the field of animal care, behavior assessment, handling or housing.
Despite the lack of regulation or monitoring at the local level and the myriad tragedies that have resulted to animals and humans, some states — such as California with its disastrous Hayden Law — still mandate that animals scheduled for euthanasia for any reason, including severe aggression or records of bites or attacks, shall be released to rescue organizations upon request.
“Under Florida law, there is no license or permit required to open a rescue, even though all dogs, including those at rescues, must have tags," Fox4 Now reported.
Ria Brown, the public information officer for Lee County Domestic Animal Services, told Fox4Now, “A lot of these dogs have unknown histories."
Animal Services does not fault Helping Paws 22 for what happened with Lily. But they agree they are open to the idea of more rules to keep people safe.
Agnello claims they did everything right, Fox4Now states, "But we found there's no one checking to make sure that's the case at any rescue in Florida."
"Being able to regulate something gives you the opportunity to make sure people are doing things properly before they try to care for animals," Brown said.