Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters

 

Salami used in Smiley theft

By: Jenny Manning
Whidbey News Times Reporter
February 9, 2008 UPDATED

"Oh where oh where has Smiley gone? Oh where oh where can he be?"

The theft of Smiley, a mixed-breed dog formerly kenneled at the Whidbey Animals' Improvement Foundation Coupeville shelter, added a new twist to litigation between WAIF and two former volunteers, Bob Baker and Barbara Moran.

WAIF volunteers arrived about 8:30 a.m. Saturday to find Smiley missing from his kennel.

"It's just unbelievable," Baker said. "We don't know whether to feel happy that he's out of his cage or concerned about where he is." Baker awoke Saturday morning to find a sheriff's deputy at the door of his Freeland home.

According to WAIF officials, the person or group responsible for the dog-napping used wire cutters to get through WAIF's cyclone fencing to access the dog area, cut through the chain-link wiring of Smiley's kennel, pried open Smiley's doggie door to the heated, indoor portion of his kennel that had been shut for the night, and likely lured the pooch out with hunks of salami, some of which were found at the scene.

Syringe caps - unlike the ones used at WAIF - were discovered Monday morning near the damaged section of cyclone fencing.

The theft is considered commercial burglary in the second degree, Island County Sheriff Mark Brown said. The crime carries a maximum penalty of up to 10 years in prison and $10,000 in fines.

Shelter manager Shari Bibich is worried about Smiley's health. The dog is on a special "CD diet" to maintain his urinary tract. Without it, crystals may form in his bladder, preventing the dog from relieving himself.

The dog should also be kept away from cats, small dogs, male dogs and young children, she cautioned. WAIF considers the dog dangerous, which is why he was scheduled for euthanasia rather than adoption.

This incident is the latest turn in events of the four-month-long dispute over Smiley's fate.

The legal battle took flight in November 2008 when Baker and Moran filed two motions, including 14 claims, with Island County Superior Court in an effort to save the dog's life.

Judge Vickie Churchill ruled against Baker and Moran Feb. 6, lifting the temporary restraining order that kept WAIF from euthanizing the dog since the start of the lawsuit four months ago.

However, Churchill also granted an emergency stay of execution that Adam Karp, the attorney representing Moran and Baker, filed just after her ruling.

The stay barred WAIF from euthanizing the dog until Churchill can reconsider the issue.

But even without the dog, Karp plans to file a motion to reconsider, which must be filed within 10 days of Churchill's decision, in case Smiley surfaces.

"If he never shows up, I suppose the case is moot," Karp said. Karp also plans to file a motion to dismiss WAIF's counterclaims.

No suspects are known in the case of Smiley's disappearance, according to investigators. "I plan on filing a public disclosure request to do my own investigation," Karp said. "I feel obligated to explore this and find out what happened."

"My concern is that Smiley was under WAIF's care," he said, adding the shelter was court-ordered to protect him. "It doesn't inspire confidence."

If you have any information on the whereabouts of Smiley, call the Island County Sheriff tip-line at 360-679-7319.

Related stories in the Whidbey News-Times, WA http://www.pnwlocalnews.com/whidbey/wnt/news/39327549.html

Another story from the Everett Herald
Whidbey animal shelter sued over plans to euthanize dog

The shelter says Smiley is too aggressive to be adopted, but the dog's supporters disagree.
By Gale Fiege,
gfiege@heraldnet.com Everett Herald Writer
February 7, 2008

COUPEVILLE -- Smiley the dog survived to see another day, but it isn't clear just how long he has to live.

In a case that's polarized animal lovers on Whidbey Island, two former animal shelter donors are suing a shelter over the life of the dog.

Bob Baker and Barbara Moran, who are married, say Smiley could be adopted, but shelter officials won't change their minds about humanely killing him.

The nonprofit shelter run by the Whidbey Animals Improvement Foundation says the mixed-breed dog is too aggressive to adopt out and recently bit one of their volunteers, although the person wasn't seriously hurt.

An Island County Superior Court judge on Friday, before a packed courtroom, ordered a temporary stay on euthanizing Smiley but said the dog's supporters failed to show that the shelter is doing anything wrong, dismissing the suit.

The WAIF shelter first received Smiley two years ago. His former owner, Bernard Perez, didn't have the money to build a fence, and the dog kept getting picked up by animal enforcement officers. Finally, unable to pay repeated fines, Perez signed the dog that he called Snappy over to the shelter with hopes that the dog would be adopted into a new home.

Renamed Smiley, the dog was listed on WAIF's Web site as being available for adoption. From the start, though, the dog showed aggressive behavior, said Stephen Paysse, the organization's executive director.

About 12 people, including Baker and Moran, tried to adopt the dog, but all failed to meet the minimal-kill shelter's requirements for keeping a dog such as Smiley, Paysse said. Some had small animals and children, others had male dogs of about the same size as Smiley, or no fenced yard.

Baker and Moran argued that Smiley's bad behavior was a result of being locked up too long in his cage at the shelter.

Baker and Moran want to pay to have the dog released to the Academy of Canine Behavior in south Snohomish County for retraining. WAIF officials said Smiley is too aggressive to be sent out into the community and they don't want the organization liable for any harm the dog might cause.

After Judge Vickie Churchill's ruling Friday, Baker said he still has hope that the dog can be spared.

"I am disappointed that Smiley is still in a cage," Baker said. "I just can't believe that WAIF would meet us in court to protect their right to kill a dog."

Adam Karp, attorney for Baker and Moran, plans to ask Churchill to reconsider her decision. If not, he'll petition the state Court of Appeals to take a look at the case.

Liability is the major issue for WAIF, the organization's lawyer, Mark Theune, said. "WAIF has a moral responsibility to keep people safe," he said.

Paysse said Smiley jumped up and bit a volunteer. Though the bite didn't break the skin, the dog now poses a great risk to people, he said.

WAIF supporters and those who agree with Baker and Moran are all passionate about animals, Paysse said. Volunteers at the animal shelter are heartbroken about Smiley's probable future.

"It's not a win when a dog is put to sleep," he said.

Comment:  More and more people are looking to litigation in matters like this.  In 2008, a  woman concerned that the Surrey SPCA was going to kill some dogs without a proper assessment, hired a lawyer to make sure that the animals weren’t going to quietly be put to death.  Nowadays, it’s becoming increasingly unacceptable for so- called humane societies to destroy those creatures that come into their ‘care’ on any pretext.  Animal rights has become mainstream.