Photo: d181107-news-dog

From left, Laura Robitille, Carmine Burgess, Ota Howe, Brooke Tillson and Janet Sullivan hold signs during a protest in front of the N.H. Humane Society’s shelter on Meredith Center Road in Laconia on Thursday, hoping to convince shelter staff to reverse its decision to euthanize a dog.

A dog slated for euthanasia on Friday at the N.H. Humane Society appears to have been given a reprieve.

Jay Haley who operates Etiquette Academy for Dogs in Kingston, with his partner, Eddie Bonilla, said he had a productive conference call with several members of the society’s leadership, their animal behaviorist and animal caregivers Friday afternoon.

He ended the call believing that the NHHS will allow the two-year-old German shepherd named Sicario to be released to their custody so that he can undergo intensive training at their facility and then be adopted into an appropriate home.

“We’re just glad we are in a position to be able to help,” said Haley. Since posting a photo and plight of the dog on his webpage, Haley said, 15 to 20 people have already expressed in interest in giving Sicario a home and others have donated to help defray the cost of the training.

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LACONIA — Former and current employees of the N.H. Humane Society were protesting in front of the Meredith Center Road shelter on Thursday in an effort to prevent what they say is Friday’s scheduled euthanasia of a dog.

Laura Robitille, of Laconia, who quit her job as an animal caregiver at the shelter over the issue, says the dog named Sicario is a 2-year-old, 95-pound male German shepherd that she walked every day during the three months he was awaiting a new home. She said she never saw any sign of aggression toward a person.

“He’s a gentle giant,” said former animal caregiver Ota Howe, of Sanbornton, who claims she was fired a week and a half ago.

In a written statement, the NHHS claims the dog was adopted twice and returned for “biting, aggressive behavior and behavioral issues.”

“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,” reads the unsigned statement.

Robitaille said leadership at the shelter doesn’t listen to observations of caregivers about the animals.

She claims the dog, who she described as extremely smart and willing to learn, was initially returned because he was not housebroken. When adopted out, it was with the caveat that he was aggressive toward other dogs.

Despite the warning, the second adopter took Sicario to a doggie daycare for several weeks until he got into a dog fight. Someone was bitten trying to separate the fighting dogs.

Brooke Tillson of Center Harbor, who joined in the protest, is still working as a caregiver at the shelter and said she plans to report for her shift on Saturday. She maintains Sicario passed both his medical and behavioral assessment clearing him for adoption and that he should not be put to sleep.

“He just needs to go to a home without another dog,” said Howe.

All three animal caregivers claim that NHHS’ statement that the dog “continues to exhibit overly aggressive behavior and has also bitten a staff member,” is untrue.

Carmen Burgess of Center Harbor, who was among the protesters, said they’d received emails and text messages in response to their social media postings that had attracted some 700 followers, including a trained animal behaviorist who was willing to take the dog and sign off on any liability, but was rebuffed by shelter leadership.

Janet Sullivan, who has volunteered at the NHHS for the past year, said the dog dispute is just the latest incident to roil the shelter since a staff walkout this spring.

“It’s a shame the way things are being run. It’s all about the money,” she said.

“We are dedicated to finding responsible and caring forever homes and providing shelter for animals –- it is at the core of our mission. The care of these animals is our priority and focus. As a result, over 98 percent of the animals we took in last year were placed in permanent and caring settings,” the NHHS statement reads.

LACONIA – A dog slated for euthanasia on Friday at the N.H. Humane Society appears to have been given a reprieve.

Jay Haley who operates Etiquette Academy for Dogs in Kingston, with his partner Eddie Bonilla, said he had a productive conference call with several members of the society’s leadership, their animal behaviorist and animal caregivers Friday afternoon.

He ended the call believing that the NHHS will allow the two-year-old German shepherd named Sicario to be released to their custody so that he can undergo intensive training at their facility and then be adopted into an appropriate home.

“We’re just glad we are in a position to be able to help,” said Haley. Since posting a photo and plight of the dog on his web page, Haley said, 15 to 20 people have already expressed in interest in giving Sicario a home and others  have donated to help defray the cost of the training.