Target 8: County worker who euthanized wrong dog claims work environment now hostile

Loki the dog.

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – A 30-year Hillsborough county employee contends she was targeted by managers at the Pet Resource Center and thrown under the bus.

Last month, we told you Christa Lepisto and her supervisor Charlene Frederick accidentally euthanized the wrong dog.

Ms. Lepisto claims after honing up to the error, the PRC became a hostile work environment.

Christa Lepisto

In October, Ms. Lepisto and Ms. Frederick mistakenly euthanized a dog named Loki.

“I totally take responsibility for pulling Loki by mistake. I think about it all the time,” explained Ms. Lepisto.

Her supervisor, Charlene Frederick, was supposed to double check.

“She had made a comment that ‘we need to hurry and get this done, because I’ve got other things I’ve got to do,'” added Ms. Lepisto.

As a result of the rush and failure to follow protocol, the wrong dog was put down.

Related: Target 8: Deaths at a Hillsborough County shelter prompt call for investigation 

“I feel like I took an innocent life,” Ms. Lepisto cried. “A life that could’ve been saved.”

For her, the PRC became a hostile work environment.

“Everything I did was wrong, everything, nothing I could do was right,” she said.

Charlene Frederick was suspended for one day.

Christa Lepisto, a 30-year employee, was demoted.

She claims a supervisor then threatened her.

“He took me aside and told me it would be in my best interest not to go to the news media,” added Ms. Lepisto. She claims at the time, the thought hadn’t even crossed her mind.

Last month, Target 8 reported Loki’s death and raised questions about whether the county was forthcoming.

Loki the dog.

PRC Director Scott Trebatoski assured county commissioners that both workers involved were “disciplined,” “distraught” and “one employee ultimately resigned as a result of the incident.”

Christa Lepisto has a much different version of what happened.

“HR came down there and told me that ‘you either resign today or you will be fired,'” she said.

Ms. Lepisto retired in March. She loved her job, misses the animals and carries with her a mistake the can never be corrected.

“For someone who loves animals as much as I do, to be the one to pull the wrong dog, it just really really hurts,” she said.

The county had no comment. It invited Target 8 to request Ms. Lepisto’s personnel file. Instead, we checked with a former manager, volunteers and employees who said Christa Lepisto was an asset loved by the staff.

If you have a problem you think should be investigated, call our Target 8 Helpline at 1-800-338-0808.

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