LACONIA — Sicario, the two-year-old German Shepherd that was slated for euthanasia as recently as Thursday, is likely unaware of the maelstrom that has been swirling around the New Hampshire Humane Society, both online in and the form of demonstrators in front of the nonprofit shelter. But all that energy focused around the dog has produced a profound effect, and it now appears as if his fate has been reversed.
“An extraordinary opportunity has emerged," said Steve Schaffer, interim director of the Humane Society. "We are early in the stage of following up on it, and in the meantime, we will continue to care for Sicario through this process of exploration.”
The Humane Society had planned on euthanizing Sicario, a dog which had been rescued this summer, along with many other animals, from an abuse case in New Hampton. Sicario had been adopted out twice, and returned to the shelter, with the most recent adopters reporting that he had bitten a person who tried to break up a fight that Sicario was involved in with another dog at a dog day care.
A statement issued on Thursday by the Humane Society said Sicario “continues to exhibit overly aggressive behavior and he has also bitten a staff member,” in its explanation of the decision to euthanize the dog.
The statement was prepared in response to a protest organized by Laura Robitaille, who had worked as an animal care provider at the Humane Society until Tuesday, when she learned of Sicario’s planned euthanasia. Robitaille, who had spent several hours working with the dog, organized a protest and social media campaign to reverse the shelter’s plans.
That campaign attracted the attention of some of the Humane Society’s supporters, such as the family that owns Funspot, which hosts an annual fundraiser for the shelter. A member of the family said that the fundraiser would be directed toward another beneficiary if Sicario was killed.
Another person who took interest was Haley Dearborn, who had co-owned Eptam Plastics and is a supporter of the Humane Society. She was determined to find a resolution, other than euthanasia, that would be acceptable to the shelter’s board of directors.
She found her solution in Jay Haley and Eddie Bonilla, of Etiquette Academy for Dogs in Kingston, New Hampshire, a relatively new business founded by the two partners who are veterans in rehabilitating even the most aggressive dogs.
Dearborn put Haley and Bonilla in touch with the Humane Society on Friday, and by the end of the day she was convinced Sicario would ultimately find an appropriate home.
“It took me a good amount of time to discover those guys. When I had a conversation with them and hooked them up with the people at the shelter, it was such a unique thing and a positive thing, they are moving forward with it,” Dearborn said.
Haley said he and Bonilla have offered to take Sicario into their care, and to train him until he could safely be adopted into a home that would be appropriate for him, including an owner familiar with large dogs with similar histories.
“We target and work with dogs that are ones that fall through the cracks of every other trainer, because they don’t want to work with the hard ones. We actually target the aggressive dogs,” Haley said. “We’ve taken in dogs that literally try to attack us when they come in, then they come to trust and love us because of that bond. This dog isn’t even close to on that level.”
Dearborn said that the discussions were continuing and that the final decisions had yet been made, but that she wanted people to know that Sicario’s future had gotten a whole lot brighter.
“People can rest assured that this dog is going to a great, great facility, and will be going to a great home, a specific home,” she said.