**UPDATE December 16, 2015**
Sophie the Husky puppy made waves in the media when news spread of her impending euthanasia. She had slipped from her family’s yard to see the neighbor’s chickens and was shot four times by their owner.
Despite the fact that there was no concrete proof that Sophie did indeed kill the birds, the Colorado DA made the decision to end her life and possibly send her owners to jail. It is with a much lighter heart that I tell you that after months of excruciating legal battles and managing Sophie’s recovery, her life will finally be spared.
Sophie’s community Facebook page published the following post:
The details regarding the decision are not clear, but the one thing that’s for sure is the only thing that matters: Sophie will not be euthanized for her actions. Her owners received over 170,000 signatures on the petition to save their dog, and even reached their GoFundMe goal to help cover the cost of growing legal fees and medical care.
Everyone that came out in support has something to do with this outcome, and on behalf of Sophie and her family we would like to say thank you. This girl is going to live a long and happy life from here on out.
Dangerous dog laws in Elbert County, Colorado specifically state that any dog who kills a domestic animal must be euthanized, and that “unlawful ownership of a dangerous dog” can warrant up to six month in jail. In a bizarre but supposedly common occurrence in this Colorado town, a couple and their Husky puppy, Sophie, are up against this fate.
The sly dog managed to slip from her yard to investigate the neighbor’s chickens, which the birds’ owner claims were properly enclosed on his land. Soon after, Sophie’s parents Noelle Linder and Anthony Maguire heard the unmistakeable ring of twelve gunshots.
The two ran to the source and discovered something no dog owner should ever have to witness. “I bent down to get her and she was just choking on her own blood, and so I just started crying,” said Linder. Maguire was deeply affected as well: “I was just horrified, and it was one of the worst things that has ever happened to me.” Sophie had been shot four times in the neck and hind leg—she was dying at their feet.
The shooter claimed Sophie had killed four of his chickens, and threatened to shoot Maguire as well if he tried to move the then 7-month-old puppy. The two were forced to watch Sophie struggle for 20 minutes before police arrived. Now she is being cited as a “dangerous dog” and her owners face jail time as a result.
What does it mean, then, that when a dog follows its instincts to go after a prey animal, it is automatically sentenced to death? Siberian Huskies are an energetic, fiercely independent, and highly prey-driven breed—i.e., they are not likely (though there are always exceptions) to make friends with small animals.
They have an incredibly strong instinct to chase and hunt, which is likely what brought Sophie to the neighbor’s chicken enclosure. It is this same instinct that drives dogs to chase balls and frisbees; you might even say that a dog that is uninterested in fetch games has a weak prey drive.
According to CBS Denver‘s coverage, there is no explicit evidence that Sophie killed any of the chickens; no loose feathers or signs of a struggle, and no blood that could not be attributed to the Husky’s four gunshot wounds. With eight missed shots, there is no evidence that they were not responsible for the chickens’ deaths.
By some miracle, Sophie survived the traumatic experience and is now facing death yet again by the order of the Colorado district attorney’s office. Linder’s attorney Juliet Piccone says:
This situation happens all across our state, every single day. Our dangerous dog law has got to change. It has a mandatory death sentence for any dog that kills a domestic animal, which includes a goat or a chicken.
In other words, the same rights offered to canines are the ones given to chickens and other farm animals. The law also states that it is the right of the chickens’ owner to shoot to protect his livestock. It is evident here that the nature of canines still lies heavily with their ancestors, and Huskies are among one of the top breeds characterized by extreme prey-drive, joined by Beagles, German Shepherds, and even Chihuahuas.
The fact of the matter is that all dogs have the instinctive drive to chase; it is what the majority of them were bred to do. Sophie’s owners failed to keep her in their yard, but does that mean that she should die, or that they should end up in prison?
“We’re good pet owners. It was just an accident that she slipped out,” Linder told CBS. They also agreed to pay any fines and replace the birds, which they feel is much more reasonable.
Right now, it is up to the district attorney to decide, but it is also clear that Colorado’s dangerous dog laws need to be reassessed. Sophie’s owners are attempting to fight their puppy’s fate: they have started a Change.org petition to challenge the state’s decision. If you would like to sign, visit the website here.
See the video below for the full story.