When West Vancouver couple Jennifer and Frank Azizi signed adoption papers for Echo last month, they thought the 10-month-old Border Collie had found his forever home.
Days later, Echo was dead, euthanized by the SPCA over what the organization says were dangerous and aggressive tendencies.
There is some dispute over what precipitated Echo being put down, but both sides agree the dog nipped Frank Azizi twice, tearing his jeans, shortly after the paperwork was signed.
From the Azizis’ point of view, Echo’s behaviour was nothing extreme, and they say they’re shocked he was put down. The SPCA says it had no choice, for reasons of public safety.
“Frank grabbed dog food and he was holding it in his arm and Echo jumped up and nipped his arm, and then he turned around and nipped his calf, sort of ankle area, and called for an immediate refund,” said Jennifer.
“Just nipping, wasn’t biting… no damage to the skin, there was no bruising.”
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The couple had gone into the West Vancouver branch of the SPCA to adopt Echo on Sept. 20. They had owned previous collies, and were aware that Echo had had issues earlier in his life.
Sarah Jones, regional SPCA manager for the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley, says Echo had shown behavioural issues when he was younger, and at the West Vancouver branch had bit several staff members and volunteers.
She said the team thought they had his behaviour under control, but said that in the incident with the Azizis, Echo bared his teeth and lunged — something she said was new.
“It was very concerning… and it was a new escalation of behaviour, so we cancelled the adoption… issued them a refund and they left,” she said.
Jones said the SPCA then evaluated the dog with in-house behaviour experts and an outside consultant, and decided Echo could be dangerous to the public.
She said putting a dog down is always the organization’s last resort.
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“We really spent a lot of time because it’s not something we take lightly and not something we do often,” she said. “It’s heart-wrenching.”
“We understand why the public might be upset; we’re upset, too.”
But the Azizis aren’t convinced. They say the SPCA branch manager was set on putting Echo down within minutes of the incident.
“She said one of the possibilities could be euthanasia, and we were very shocked that that could be considered when this dog was considered adoptable up to this point,” said Jennifer.
The Azizis say they they contacted an outside collie rescue centre, and together pleaded with the SPCA to spare the dog, with no success.
“If they didn’t want to train him and felt he was untrainable,” she said, “another group wanted him, and we wanted that opportunity for him.”
The couple now says they’re devastated, and are looking for answers as to why Echo won’t get a chance at a second life.
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