It’s Friday afternoon, the day by which Shawn and Sophia Vrooman’s attorney said he wanted a proposal prepared to present to Ark-Valley Humane Society (AVHS) to save the life of the dog Echo, who so far has escaped the euthanization that AVHS deemed necessary almost immediately upon his arrival there on Feb. 2.
Echo was relinquished to AVHS, according to the Vroomans, to give him a chance at a new home and more training after they admitted that their focus on their new arbor business was taking so much time that they couldn’t give Echo the attention he needed. Echo was in bite quarantine from the day he arrived at AVHS until Feb. 13.
On February 15, AVHS put this statement on their website:
Ark Valley Humane Society’s (AVHS) lawyer has advised that transferring Echo to any individual, rescue group or other such entity will not relieve AVHS of any future, potential liability. It is not possible for the previous owners or any other individual or organization to sufficiently indemnify AVHS should another person or animal be injured by said animal.
One hates to think of this as a mere control struggle when the life of a living thing hangs in the balance. This is a decision to save — or not save — a dog that according to his breeder, his former owners, people who know and own Daniff mastiffs, and those who have taken care of him say is not an aggressive dog, but a protective dog; who for some good reasons at this point, could well be fearful, protective and not able to trust anyone, especially at AVHS.
According to the Vrooman’s lawyer, several animal trainers and dog behaviorists have offered to foster and help Echo.
The Vroomans, in the accompanying letter to the community appear to feel most strongly about a world-renowned animal behaviorist and trainer named James Tsai based in Vancouver, Canada. They have shared their sense that Tsai is the best person to help Echo.
In a copy of a communication Tsai has sent, he refutes the assessment of Echo as irretrievably broken and not worthy of saving and offering his considerable skills to retrain the dog.
Tsai, who the Vancouver Sun calls “One of North America’s top experts in canine rehabilitation,” runs Arf Arf Bark Bark Dog Foundation, (read: Dog Whisperer To Rehab Great Dane Rescued By 911 First Responder).
He noted cases where he had successfully indemnified other shelters and animal rescue organizations from New York City to Los Angeles for violent dogs, some that had bitten 16 times, attacked people, dogs who had been cruelly abused and forced to fight. His work has been recognized by the Court of New York, SRGDRR – largest Great Dane Rescue in North America, New Hope For Danes (oldest Great Dane Rescue in Canada, est. 1982), and the Southampton Animal Shelter, New York, among many shelters.
There is no word on how AVHS has received the outreach from Tsai, or whether they may consider the proposal. Echo’s fate comes before District 11 Court Judge Diana Bull on February 23.
AVV acknowledges that AVHS does some wonderful rescue work. It handles animal control for the county and given that position of trust, considering the consultation and assistance of “one of North America’s top experts in canine rehabilitation,” would demonstrate an approach that truly is humane.
Since being removed from bite quarantine on Feb. 13, there is no word on whether or not Echo has received the prescribed care that AVHS promises that every dog that comes to its shelter receives. Has he gotten exercise? Is he getting any attention? Is he even in a cage big enough for his size?
As Tsai notes on his website: “We believe giant breeds, such as Great Danes are at extreme risk because their significant size makes them the first to be killed in shelters due to lack of space and cost of feeding and vet care.”
There is no report of law enforcement being involved in any violent incident with Echo prior to February 2. The AVHS statement above appears to reiterate their position based on potential future liability, not actual legal charges from anyone. Would the February 15 AVHS statement have given enough time for a real assessment to be made?
Tsai, a man who has dealt with and gentled the most violent of dogs, says “We advocate for dogs because we care. They love us. Our dogs would give their lives to defend ours. Giving them a voice and making a difference in their lives is the least we can do.”
THANK~YOU for your HEROIC wisdom, action, integrity and compassion to protect and provide for the RIGHT to LIFE, HUMANE TREATMENT and WELL~BEING of THIS Dog, and ALL Such Animals; NOW and in OUR Future!
Seeing as my math was correct on a few of your shared posts, and AVHS released the state inspector’s report to smother your claims regarding Echo’s kennel size, you guys can finally stop with this crap you call journalism. It’s really starting to feel like your tactic of playing on people’s emotions isn’t working, but of course you have to throw a jab when an opportunity presents itself. How can you publicly try to ruin our local shelter’s name and reputation, and then come out here saying that you acknowledge that AVHS does wonderful rescue work? Attempting to hurt AVHS’ ability to help animals by dragging their name in the mud is pretty extreme and counterintuitive to your motion of caring about the animals. Just like Judith K. said, where have all the people been the rest of the time AVHS has existed? At least when I volunteered there, I certainly didn’t see many faces putting in the work except for a small handful of volunteers and staff. All these “dog trainers” offering to help out now cause they see a PR opportunity, yet I never once heard or saw of a dog trainer offering to help out the shelter. Now, James Tsai might be a different story in that regard, but I am a little skeptical again with the whole self-proclaimed dog whisperer thing. I can’t seem to find any credentials for James beyond his claimed hours and hours of experience, a few new client testimonials, and his youtube videos. James also speaks about some heavy accolades that can’t be proven anywhere online, and just sound like outright lies. You’d think he’d have a certificate or something on display to commemorate the “Court of New York” dubbing him as the only man capable of handling the most aggressive dog the state of NY has ever seen. Honestly if the court was involved, how come there are zero public records that come up in regards to a great dane in NY that tried to kill a shelter worker and attacked and bit people 16 times. Or even records of James Tsai regarding this dog beyond a single Canadian news article. Saying “you’re okay dog” repeatedly to a fearful or antagonized dog is not dogtraining people. If you seriously believe he’s downtraining predatory and aggressive dogs, I urge you to do some research first as Jame’s methods are extremely negligent and dangerous. Don’t drink the James Tsai kool-aid without considering all factors first, or you might just end up spending $6000 for your poor dog to come back with even more issues than before.
Richie, thank you for your reply. If you stopped to review the original feature story about this topic, you would see that the emotion was on the part of Echo’s owners — not on the part of AVV — they told their story and gave a voice to Echo. As that feature story pointed out, AVHS did not respond to us; nor did its board, which by the way is part of the responsibility of a nonprofit board. Do you seriously think this shouldn’t have been pointed out?
Regarding the kennel size that you claim is now adequate — we quoted AVHS’s own words as to size, which didn’t appear to match the math for his size. Make of that what you will.
It is not our job as journalists to do the marketing for an organization — AVHS has plenty of defenders, yourself included, who apparently want this to go away. Telling the truth about a situation isn’t always convenient, nor is it something we do with joy. It is journalism’s role to ask questions and to present the facts of a situation, which we did. Our role is to hold AVHS, which is the designated county shelter by the wy — to account, just as we did a couple of years ago when we covered the animal shelter crisis in Canon City.
The piece to which you have responded presented the facts — again — not recommending or endorsing the animal behaviorist which you have roundly attacked.
Since you have volunteered for AVHS it is clear you see your role as defensive. But unless you, yourself are an animal behaviorist, perhaps we should all refrain from comment until the judge decides.
This tragedy can’t be solved with simple math and a minimal understanding and skill set exemplified by Ark-Valley Humane Society with regard to Echo, his breed and the breed’s behavior. Echo’s situation has been exacerbated by the shelter’s incompetence and naive attempts to rectify the mess they created with engineering, fear-mongering fueled by ignorance, and attempts to silence those in support of Echo and his opportunity to live. Professional canine behaviorists with proven success rehabilitating extremely dangerous dogs (Echo doesn’t come close to falling into this category) have stated on record their desire to work with Echo, his human parents, and Ark Valley Humane Society. These same canine rehabilitation professionals have stated emphatically that Echo’s behavior could quickly and easily be modified.
That said, Ark-Valley Humane Society’s histrionics surrounding this dog are unfounded.
Firthermore, shame on ARK-VALLEY HUMANE SOCIETY for their attempt to sioence the voices of Echo’s supporters, who are insisting that he be allowed to live by shutting down their comments on their Facebook page, website, etc. and directing people only to the orchestrated statements provided by Ark-Valley Humane Society in favor of killing the dog, which are on FULL DISPLAY on their external communication platforms—Facebook, their website, et al. In addition they continue to send out their minions to attack their army, in this case Ark Valley Voice.
A disgusting, disingenuous PR game they’re playing. Their amateur attempts at manipulating public perception would be laughable if a poor dog’s life wasn’t at stake.
This tragedy can’t be solved with simple math and a minimal understanding and skill set exemplified by Ark-Valley Humane Society (AVHS) with regard to Echo, his breed and the breed’s behavior. Echo’s situation has been exacerbated by the shelter’s incompetence and naive attempts to rectify the mess they created with engineering, fear-mongering fueled by ignorance, and attempts to silence those in support of Echo and his opportunity to live, including that of veterinarians, who understand and have experience working with this breed, and leading canine behaviorists.
Professional canine behaviorists with proven success rehabilitating extremely dangerous dogs (Echo doesn’t come close to falling into this category) have stated on record their desire to work with Echo, his human parents, and Ark Valley Humane Society. These same canine rehabilitation professionals have stated emphatically that Echo’s behavior could quickly and easily be modified.
That said, Ark-Valley Humane Society’s histrionics surrounding this dog are unfounded.
Furthermore, shame on ARK-VALLEY HUMANE SOCIETY for their attempt to silence the voices of Echo’s supporters, who continue to insist that he be allowed to live. By shutting down pro-Echo comments on their Facebook page, website, etc. and directing people only to the orchestrated statements provided by Ark-Valley Humane Society in favor of killing the dog, which are on FULL DISPLAY on their external communication platforms—Facebook, their website, et al, shows their true colors and desperate attempt to control the narrative (theirs).
In addition, AVHS continues to send out their their army to silence those who speak in favor of letting Echo live. It doesn’t stop there: bullying tactics, including well-known PR depositioning strategies that entail disparaging the messenger, in this case Ark Valley Voice, have been deployed. A cowardice act.
It’s a disgusting, disingenuous PR game that Ark-Valley Humane Society is playing. Their amateur attempts at manipulating public perception would be laughable if a poor dog’s life wasn’t at stake.
If you would have bothered to do your research concerning James Tsai better, than I’m sure you would have discovered he has worked with Save Rocky the Great Dane Rescue (the largest Great Dane Rescue in North America) and is very well respected and admired for his ability to help large breeds who have been traumatized and/or discarded by humans who are unwilling to put in the time and/or effort in order to identify the source of a dogs fear. James Tsai did not get involved w/ Echo for PR. Anyone who actually knows and follows him can clearly see this man already has a worldwide following. Additionally, the only ones Attempting to hurt AVHS’ ability to help animals is AVHS themselves, by not allowing and making up contradictory reasons as to why they will not release Echo to James Tsai (or anyone else for that matter) as to afford Echo the opportunity to live a better life! AVHS actions are what’s counterintuitive to their supposed motion of caring about the animals. AVHS claims to ensure the welfare of animals through compassion and care yet, they took it upon themselves to play judge, jury and executioner over Echo, only consulting a vet they’re affiliated with and refusing to allow any outside assistance to my understanding. Doesn’t sound very compassionate nor caring! Tell me, why is AVHS allowing only posts in favor of killing Echo and silencing those in favor of saving his life? 🤔🤔🤔
There is such a thing called a Hold Harmless Clause which would protect AVHS from any legal liability once Echo is released to his previous owners or James Tsai. One would think as a nonprofit organization whose best interest revolves around its animals, AVHS would be willing to release Echo to someone with the knowledge and skill (such as James) that is willing to dedicate his expertise at no cost to AVHS. Additionally, AVHS releasing Echo into the custody of James Tsai could alleviate the pouring money, energy, time, work and tears to start, run, and finance AVHS as Judith L. Kittleman mentioned in her post. It would be a winning situation for all especially Echo. There is absolutely no reason for AVHS to euthanize this pup given all the resources and options they’ve been given.
Echo deserves the opportunity to live his best life!!!
AVHS, a non-profit organization that does amazing work in our community must worry about the liability of the organization. Our community would be far worse off if a dog transferred or adopted by AVHS injures of kills another animal or person, and the shelter is found liable. I wonder where those who are so outraged about Echo were when some of us were pouring money, energy, time, work and tears to start, run, and finance AVHS? Unfortunately, decisions can be both the right thing to do, as well as very sad. My sympathy is with the people who have to make the hard decisions for the right reasons.
From the Association of Shelter Veterinarians:
“Staff must be trained to recognize animal stress, pain, and suffering as well as successful adaptation to the shelter environment. Handling must always be as humane as possible and appropriate for the individual animal and situation. The minimal amount of physical restraint needed to accomplish the task without injury to people or animals should be used. Humane handling requires an appraisal of each animal’s behavior, adequate numbers of properly trained staff, suitable equipment that is readily available and in good working condition, appropriate choice of location for procedures, personal protection such as gloves or push boards, and judicious use of tranquilizers.“
The fact that Ark-Valley Humane Society staff failed in this regard, regardless of their intentions, including that of their volunteers, is a reflection of their incompetence and inadequate skillsets , and not Echo’s behavior.