Concerns over puppy being euthanized instead of adopted

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) Many people have been concerned about a 5-month-old puppy that was scheduled to be put down instead of being adopted. The Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region is now saying that puppy may be getting a second chance.

It all started when Kent Hill tried to adopt the puppy from the Pueblo Animal Shelter.

Hill had adopted his current dog, Bruno, a pit bull mix, from the same shelter eight years ago. At the time, the dog was supposed to be put down because of behavior issues, but Hill convinced the shelter to let him adopt Bruno. Bruno now serves as a therapy dog.

Recently Hill went back to the shelter.

“I decided I’d go and find Bruno a friend and saw this fantastic 5-month-old pit bull puppy,” Hill said.

The puppy was a stray that was found playing in the road by a local couple. The puppy was found with another dog too.

“They were really nice dogs. [They] didn’t show any signs of aggression, jumped right in the truck with us. We even had our dog with us in the truck and they all played,” said Andrew Diaz, who found the stray puppy.

Diaz told 11 News he didn’t think twice before calling the shelter because he thought the dogs would be adopted quickly.

The Humane Society says the puppy failed their aggression test, which was developed by a certified animal behaviorist. Because of that, the puppy was scheduled to be euthanized.

"We thought this was the best place for them, 'they're sweet dogs, they'll be adoptable,'" Diaz said, who told 11 News he now regrets bringing the dogs to the shelter. "Turns out that's not the case."

Hill said he tried to convince the shelter to let him adopt the puppy like he did with Bruno in the past.

“It was such a little dog. It’s just a little puppy, 5 months old. It could have such a great future. It’s still learning and can grow out of any tendencies,” Hill said.

The shelter says once a dog fails their behavior test, it’s a matter of public safety not to let that dog be adopted.

“Its behavior since it arrived has been extremely high arousal, really won’t calm down, very frontal, very controlling. This is all behavior that’s concerning in an adult dog, and even though this dog is 5 months old, it concerns me even more that this puppy is showing this behavior at that young of an age,” said Julie Justman, the director of Pueblo Animal Services.

"This behavior assessment was developed by an ACAB (associate certified applied animal behaviorist),' she explained. "Less than 50 people in the country carry these credentials. Based on science and what we look at with sociability for the animal, we also look at its tolerance to handling, and its reaction to humans and also other animals. This is just an animal we feel would be inappropriate to place in general adoption."

But the intense interest the community showed in response to Hill's story has convinced the shelter to give the puppy another chance.

"It needs some rehabilitation, it needs some training and behavior modification so that hopefully it can be a successful placement. It's not a successful placement for us because we do not have a program like that here," Justman said. “There are not a lot of options for dogs with this type of behavior and it’s not just a ‘call somebody up and they’ll take it’ [situation]. This dog cannot go to just any rescue or any sheltering organization. It really needs to go someplace where it’s going to receive the behavior treatment that it needs."

Fortunately the Humane Society was able to contact one of their partner shelters that does have a behavior specialist. The puppy will be transferred there.

The Humane Society has not released where that location is but Hill says he plans to adopt that puppy as soon as he can.

"This dog is just too awesome for me to let go, so I definitely intend to adopt this dog someday."