updated 6/25/2008 2:48:43 PM ET 2008-06-25T18:48:43

The nearly 2-year-old black lab escaped from home and bit a woman.

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But Junior's punishment wasn't supposed to be a death sentence.

Animal Control officials in Michigan have apologized to Anette Hetzer for accidentally euthanizing her dog last week. The dog had been quarantined at the county's animal shelter to observe for signs of rabies after he escaped from Hetzer's home north of Flint on June 9 and bit the woman. Hetzer's husband received a ticket for a leash law violation.

"He was the sweetest dog," Hetzer told The Flint Journal for a story published Wednesday. "It doesn't seem right. This was a family dog — almost like a family member. ... He shouldn't have died like that."

Animal Control interim director Mary Conaton said the dog's death was caused when a worker misread a card on Junior's cage and took the wrong animal for the lethal injection.

The county's Board of Commissioners is working on recommendations for changes at the shelter, which include updating the animal tracking system.

Hetzer said the hardest part is explaining the loss to her 2-year-old son.

"He is really heartbroken," she said. "He wants his dog to come home."

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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