Indiana couple calls stay in Myrtle Beach a nightmare after dogs - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Indiana couple calls stay in Myrtle Beach a nightmare after dogs seized, one euthanized

An Indiana couple's two dogs were seized after the two were arrested by Myrtle Beach police on accusations of animal cruelty. (Source: Huston Family) An Indiana couple's two dogs were seized after the two were arrested by Myrtle Beach police on accusations of animal cruelty. (Source: Huston Family)

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - An Indiana couple is calling their recent stay in Myrtle Beach a nightmare.

In October 2015, Janice and Keith Huston stayed at the Mermaid Inn on Ocean Boulevard while on vacation.

They checked in with their dogs, but left without them.

Now, they are suing the Mermaid Inn hotel, the city of Myrtle Beach, the Myrtle Beach Police Department and the Grand Strand Humane Society.

Their dogs were Arthur and Sasse, a 16-year-old American Staffordshire terrier and an 11-year-old Jack Russell, respectively.

When the Hustons got to the Mermaid Inn, they say they introduced the dogs to the hotel staff. The response wasn't so inviting.

"His question to me was what was up with that white dog and then I explained to him that she's old and we're on our last beach vacation with her because she loves coming to the beach," Keith Huston said about a Mermaid Inn employee.

In a letter to WMBF News, the couple said after they checked in and got settled, a short walk on the beach turned into what they called a nightmare.

They say when they returned to their room, police greeted them at the door.

"They said that we were being charged with animal cruelty," Jan Huston said.

According to the couple, officers arrested them so fast they weren't able to prove their dogs were not sick, just getting older.

"We had food and medication and all their favorite little treats and blankets,” Jan Huston said. “Our dogs were our lives."

Upon being released the next day on bail, the Hustons learned their dogs were at the Grand Strand Humane Society.

"They pretty much ignored me and said they had no information for me, and acted like I wasn't even there,” Keith Huston said.

The Hustons quickly hired an attorney. As it turned out, it was too late. In November 2015, they said they learned Sasse was euthanized while at Grand Strand Humane Society.

As for Arthur, he was returned in January 2016.

"He was overweight, lethargic, his eyes were glassy. He didn't even recognize us, diarrhea, vomiting and he was missing his front bottom row of teeth," Keith Huston said about Arthur’s return from the shelter. 

Arthur died in July 2017.

"We can't get our dogs back. We've already lost everything; we've spent a great deal of money," Jan Huston said.

The Grand Strand Humane Society’s attorney, Andy Halio, sent a statement to WMBF News:

The Grand Strand Humane Society is a non-profit corporation whose mission is to improve the quality of life for companion animals by providing shelter and care to the lost, homeless and unwanted animals of the community including, in this case, animals brought in by the Myrtle Beach Police Department Animal Control Department. 

As stated in our court filings, two dogs were brought to the shelter on or about October 29, 2015 after their owners were arrested on animal cruelty charges.  Both dogs were evaluated by staff and by the shelter’s veterinarian.

The shelter currently maintains a more than 92% live release rate.  Animals are only euthanized for behavioral or medical reasons.  The staff does everything possible to address behavioral and medical issues and only those animals whose levels of aggression make them too dangerous to offer for placement or which are so injured or ill that a comfortable quality of life cannot be provided are euthanized. In this case, the older dog, Sasse, was noted to be lethargic, dehydrated and severely emaciated upon intake.  She was fed and given intravenous fluids. However, her condition deteriorated, her organs shut down, and after careful deliberation, the decision was made to euthanize her, a decision that was made solely in the interests of the animal.  

The second dog, Arthur, was initially noted to be dehydrated and underweight. He was given a battery of laboratory tests. He was cared for by the shelter while the criminal case proceeded.  On Nov. 10, 2015, the Myrtle Beach Municipal Court granted temporary custody of Arthur to the shelter.  Arthur was returned to his owners per order of the Municipal Court dated January 7, 2016 at a healthy weight with recommendations for his diet and a copy of his lab work.  

The staff at Grand Strand Humane Society is focused on providing the best care possible for every animal that enters its doors.

When reached for comment, Myrtle Beach Police Capt. Joey Crosby said, "as per protocol, the organization does not provide comment on a case while it is in litigation."

The charges were dropped against the Huston's.

According to Thomas Winslow, the couple’s attorney, the suit was filed back in March.

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