LACONIA — About a half-dozen people, including former employees, held a demonstration Thursday in front of the New Hampshire Humane Society, which intends to euthanize a dog it says is too dangerous to adopt.
The dog in question is a two-year-old German Shepherd, named Sicario, who came to the Humane Society along with several other dogs that were rescued from an illegal shelter in New Hampton.
According to a statement from the Humane Society, Sicario is a 95-pound animal who has been twice adopted and returned, with reports of aggression and biting.
“Both adopters were experienced dog handlers that have worked with the breed," The statement said. "He continues to exhibit overly aggressive behavior and has also bitten a staff member. The nine breed rescue organizations we reached out to were unwilling to take him due to his aggressive history.”
The statement continued: “In very rare circumstances, when an animal is ill and in great pain or too dangerous to be adopted – as determined by our licensed veterinarian and certified behavioral consultant – we must make the very difficult decision to humanely euthanize the animal, barring a significant change in circumstances. By no means has this decision been taken lightly. This follows our internal policies in such cases and recommendations from our veterinarian and behavioral health specialists. All of us grieve this difficult decision.”
Neither the NHHS board president nor its interim director were available for comment on Thursday. Another official on site declined to comment further, only to confirm that Sicario was not available for adoption.
The news of Sicario’s fate was what caused Laura Robitaille to leave her position as animal care provider at the Humane Society, and to organize the protest on Thursday. She had worked at NHHS since May, and said she quit on Tuesday when it was announced that Sicario was to be euthanized on Friday of this week.
“Sicario is a dog I’ve been working with for months – he doesn’t know his own strength, he’ll jump, but he’s not aggressive by any means,” Robitaille said.
Robitaille said it was true that Sicario had bitten a person, but that was because, in her view, the dog had been taken to a dog day care before he was properly socialized, got into a fight with another dog, and the person who was bitten had gotten in between the two dogs while they were fighting.
Robitaille said that she has seen one or two animals euthanized per month at the nonprofit animal shelter. Previous cases had been a “gray area” for Robitaille, but Sicario did not seem to be a dangerous animal to her, just one that needed further training.
Joining the other protesters was Starr Lawton, whose family operates Funspot. She said that the family business would reconsider its support for New Hampshire Humane Society over the Sicario situation.
“We’ve run a charity event, an indoor triathlon, for them for 12 years. We’ve raised hundreds of thousands of dollars,” said Lawton. “We’ve been a little bit frustrated with how the facility has been run for the last few years, this is the last straw for me. They pulled a dog out of an abusive situation, to bring him here to kill him – it doesn’t seem like they’re advocating for animals”
Lawton added, “If they’re not going to give the dog a second chance, we’re going to re-think our support of the Humane Society and find another shelter to support.”
Crystal Vandine, a groomer who volunteers for the Humane Society, shared Robitaille’s concerns. Vandine said she had seen the organization work to rehabilitate dogs with aggression issues and find a suitable home for them, she didn’t know why Sicario would be any different.
“Sicario, in my experience with him, is a fun-loving and people-loving dog. I have given him a bath and nail trim… no aggression. Only barking when passing other dogs. He is a good boy who was failed yet again by humans for putting him into that situation, and if he is euthanized and pays the ultimate price then humanity has definitely failed him. He is a sweet boy who deserves to live and not be given up on.”