MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. -- "I was forced to kill my boys," says Karen Erskine, the owner of Buck and Bill, two Australian Shepherds that were euthanized Thursday evening after spending 450 days on “doggy death row” for biting a 13-year-old boy in December of 2012.
"I woke up feeling very empty,” Erskine said today. “I’m going to miss them, of course. I missed them from the moment they took their last breath."
The year and a half battle to save the animal’s lives came to a climax earlier this week, when Manatee County Judge Charles Sniffen denied an appeal to release the animals. The move started a countdown that ended around 7 p.m. Thursday, when the dogs were put down by a local vet with Erskine in attendance.
"All I saw yesterday in that room was a band of cowards killing two dogs and watching a woman suffer," Erskine says.
In a statement, Manatee County officials defended the decision to put down the dogs: “Neither state nor federal courts decided to overturn the factual findings of the hearing officer. The Manatee County Commission has no authority to overrule the judge's decision enforcing a state statute. The hearing officer's decision was the final decision, as required by Florida law."
Still, many in the community are outraged. On the “Save Buck & Bill from being killed” Facebook page, one person wrote, "Come re-election time you guys are out of here," while another said, "I’m canceling my trip to Florida."
Among the thousands of angry comments where also some expressing condolences, like this one: "I’m so sorry the world is so unfair. I am so sorry people can be such demons."
As Erskine grieves she says she will use the community's support to make sure no one else will ever have to endure what she has.
"I don’t want anyone else to every have to deal with the ambiguity of the law that can be taken and shaped and manipulated by whoever is interpreting it," she says.