New Hanover Co Wants to Kill “Dangerous” Dog Who Has Never Bitten Anyone

Honey, as shown on the WECT website.

Honey, as shown on the WECT website.

New Hanover Co in NC killed roughly half of its dogs and cats in 2013.  And the pound wants to kill yet another dog, an owned pet named Honey who has never bitten anyone, because she allegedly sneaks and snarls:

[New Hanover Co] deemed Honey as a potentially dangerous dog in June after five separate civil and state citations were filed reporting the owner’s inability to keep the dog controlled.

“All of the different accounts have stated the dog is snarling. It sneaks around behind them. It does a sneak attack sort of situation,” said Steve Watson, of the New Hanover County Animals Services.

Emphasis on SORT OF, I guess.  No one has been bitten.  But for whatever reasons, Honey’s owners seem to have repeatedly failed in keeping her confined.  And after the county declared Honey potentially dangerous, she was picked up running loose again last November, making that a sixth citation against the owners.  As punishment, the county wants to kill the healthy 2 year old dog:

“We get to a point where it becomes an issue of public safety, and if the owner doesn’t comply then we have to take the dog from them,” Watson explained.

Well, SORT OF public safety, if you close one eye and squint with the other.  Again, no one has been bitten.

Owner Ashley Aiena is heartbroken:

“You’re not just taking away a dog, you ‘re taking away our child,” sniffled Aiena. “We love this dog with all of our heart. It’s been very, very stressful and I am loosing [sic] it over this. It’s not right.”

Ms. Aiena filed an appeal with the pound, requesting Honey be allowed to live but the pound denied the appeal.  The family has until January 29 to take the appeal to superior court.

Any dog with teeth could be described as a potentially dangerous dog.  It seems the real issue here is the owners’ failure to keep the dog confined.  What are the reasons for this?  Could the problem be solved with a fence?  Does Honey need a coyote roller bar on her fencing to prevent her from climbing?  If Honey is killed, will the owners get another dog and face similar confinement issues, effectively hitting reset on the six citation cycle?  How is the public served by killing Honey?

New Hanover Co needs to take a fresh look at how it handles owned dogs picked up running loose.  The current protocols aren’t making anyone safer and are violating the animals’ right to live, which New Hanover Co obviously doesn’t respect anyway.

(Thanks Lisa and Clarice for the link.)

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22 Comments

  1. I am totally embarrassed by the decision to Kill Honey! We need the law based on common sense not the above circumstances! Don’t you realize that taking a pet is like removing a family member? What if you decide to apply this to society, based on what they might do? This is my Country and I’m sick of the occurrences! Killing animals based of what they might do is stupid and against all that America stands for!

    Reply
  2. Lisa B

     /  January 23, 2015

    For those who are interested in sharing their thoughts on this with the people in charge in New Hanover County, This page has contact information for county commissioners: http://commissioners.nhcgov.com/us/staff/

    Reply
  3. I practice animal law in NC though have never had a New Hanover Co. case. Have long experience w. state dangerous dog law — phrase “approach in a vicious & threatening manner” has been upheld as constitutional by Ct. of Appeals. We have to live with it but there are various steps that can be taken. Owners definitely should take the appeal to Superior Court, at least to buy time for possible resolution. Maybe mediation is in order. More details needed — hard to figure out how things got to this point. There are quite specific requirements to be met if dog is deemed potentially or actually dangerous — were they put in place & disregarded by owners or were they never clearly set out, etc. etc? The questions you ask at end of article are the right ones.

    Reply
  4. I heard this story and all I could think was, “Why is no one looking to help these people safely contain their dog?” Because I have no idea why this dog is getting loose so often (especially with the people knowing that she has a behavior that people find scary), but surely there is a way to help them work it out!

    We just had a dog get loose in my town in VERY bad weather (it was COLD, people and this was a Dane with no jacket or boots). It took a few days and dozens of people looking (seriously, we actually had the cell phones set up like walkie talkies so we could coordinate the search), but we finally caught him (it’s a wonder his ears didn’t fall off from the sub zero temps). The very next thing that was done (while the dog was on his way to the vet to get checked out) was a fund was set up to get money to build this dog a fence so it didn’t happen again (he had been out on a lead when a siren went off and scared him into breaking it and taking off).

    Killing a dog for looking scary? Is scary-looking the new vicious, now?

    Reply
  5. Someone in the comments section brought up the possibility that the dog may, in fact, be a smiler. I wonder if anyone has investigated THAT possibility? She may not smile at the owners, but be insecure enough with strangers to smile at them…

    Reply
  6. Jen Tinkham

     /  January 23, 2015

    If the dog was going to bite, it would of when it had the chance. This is a clearly good dog being killed due to its owners irresponsibility. If I were them, I would consider adoption to a new home over euthanizing. STRONGLY CONSIDER REHOMING THE DOG vs killing her.

    Reply
  7. Betty Ferro

     /  January 23, 2015

    Please let’s not start killing dogs for having teeth!!

    Reply
  8. J. Fox

     /  January 23, 2015

    Please!! Those of you who practice animal law or who can call new Hanover County, please do what you can to help save Honey!! Don’t wait until it is too late. It takes money to appeal a case to the higher court. That’s why they give that option because they know most people can’t afford to hire a lawyer!! Please find a way to take this dog or help her family do what’s necessary to keep Honey safe. How very sad!

    Reply
  9. Trish

     /  January 23, 2015

    Shame on the county for allowing this to happen. Why are you not helping by showing ways to contain Honey. Last I heard “doggie smiles” are not an act of viciousness. Maybe your animal control officers need a 4 year degree in animal behavior before they are allowed to deem a dog a danger. This is a disgrace period. Why not try sparing Honey by relocating her to a home on farmland or allowing the owners to find an alternative. Step up and do the right thing…..Now!

    Reply
  10. Ashley

     /  January 25, 2015

    Hey I am Honeys owner! The only reason honey got out was by accident! Her chain broke on 3 occasions and the other 2 we’re by the do it not being shut properly! We have had her for over two years and accidents are bound to happen! She is a puppy who is very playful! She is however trained and still train able! She will speak to you and hold longer converdations than my boyfriend was allowed to have at court on honeys defense! We love our dog and I just don’t want her to be put to sleep over this! God knows what to do and Honey knows what her family has done for her!! TEAM HONEY FOREVER!!!

    Reply
  11. Kittypurr

     /  January 26, 2015

    I was in on a hearing very similar to this. A guy in the neighborhood didn’t like the lifestyle of his neighbors and their teen sons. He reved up the whole neighborhood against the people and the dogs owners ignored it until said AH neighbor just happened to meet up and befriend the head of AC at the shooting range. The head of AC made it his life’s mission to destroy these wonderful animals. The other brow shirts voted with the AC- I was the only hold out.
    Eventually the rest of the neighbors realized this was a personal vendetta and changed their stories. The dogs were still declared dangerous but they lived.

    Reply
  12. Kittypurr

     /  January 26, 2015

    The Lexus Projects handles this kind of thing but the owners have to contact them.

    Reply
  13. Concerned citizen

     /  January 26, 2015

    This article is horrible journalism, I guess that’s word press in action. Let me be the first to step up on my soap box and grab the microphone.. Before you go on a witch hunt for New Hanover, let me point out your facts are wrong. Matter of fact, the DD panel consist of a group of non animal control employees who are trained animal care professionals in the public. The process is non biased, and consist of peers of thpublic, much like a jury. Secondly, instead of trying to smear animal control, why not interview the victims that brought forth the case, which led to it being deemed potentially dangerous in the first place? Of course that would be too reasonable, and it’s always eaiser to make the ones enforced with protecting the public the villian. Truth is the owners had more than a fair number of chances to do the right thing, but they failed the dog. The made no attempts to be responsible, they thought it was a joke. They say they loved the dog as a child, but on the same hand neglected to look after the dog. If animal control let the dog continue to go home a unlisted amount of times, it’s just a matter of time before someone gets hurt. What if it hurt your child? You people would be the same ones on here saying “how could animal control let this dog continue to go home?”.. Let’s be honest. And finally, let me point out the fact that animal control does not kill half of the animals coming in. That is false propaganda. Animal control adopts out so many dogs, they frequently clear out the whole adoption area in less than two days. They are the cleanest, best shelter in NC and you should be proud! Shame on those who aren’t, and double shame on those who spread lies!

    Reply
    • Concerned citizen (hiding behind anonymity) , this is not poor journalism. By the ‘shelters’ OWN REPORTS, in 2013 these are the numbers: dog – taken in: 1,659 adopted to new owner: 422 returned to their owner: 119 euthanized: 583. Let’s break it down. cat – taken in: 1,595 adopted to new owner: 249 returned to their owner: 32 euthanized: 1,016. So, the totals for cats and dogs are – taken in: 3,254; adopted to new owners: 671; returned to their owner: 151; euthanized: 1,599. So, let’s break it down. This means that 20.6% of the dogs and cats find new homes; 4.6% are returned to their owners; and, *drum roll* 49.1% are euthanized. Sure looks like half to me. Especially since they aren’t accounting for 833 animals in those numbers. That’s the remaining 25.5% – which could easily have been transferred to another killing facility.

      You want honest? Then bring out actual facts.

      Reply
      • Concerned Citizen

         /  January 30, 2015

        You have heard the facts! Read my reply again.. wash and repeat if nessecary.

    • db

       /  January 28, 2015

      Then “punish” the owners, but don’t kill the dog. There are other options. And if, as you claim, the owners are not taking this seriously (your thoughts) then what’s to prevent them from going right out and getting another dog? Find Honey another home, owners who are responsible, but killing her won’t solve any problems. And, according to the place’s own numbers, probably half of the animals that come in are killed (empty cages don’t always indicate adoptions, you know . . .)

      Reply
      • Concerned Citizen

         /  January 30, 2015

        Empty cages at that facility does mean adoptions actually. They DO NOT euthanzie animals that they spay and neuter and put up for adoption unless 1) they get very sick 2) become behaviorly unsound. WHICH IS EXTREMELY RARE… so yeah.. I know for a fact what I am talking about.. YOU DON’T.. You need to come into that office and request a report from the Supervisor of the Shelter if you have doubts.. The numbers on the reports speak for themselves.. SO STOP SPREADING LIES and LEARN THE FACTS..

      • The shelter’s own numbers, even if you look only at number of animals taken in and number of animals “euthanized,” say that they are killing about half the animals who come in the door.

        The fact, taking it as a fact, that they rarely kill animals whom they have spayed/neutered and declared adoptable, doesn’t change the fact that they are killing half the animals that come in the door. Given that their Return To Owner rate is also low, no, sorry, those empty cages are not saying anything good.

        Despite the apparent mismanagement by her owners, Honey has not, in fact, bitten anyone. It might be that her owners cannot afford a good fence, in which case the problem might be effectively addressed by helps ng them with that. Or they might be careless and irresponsible people, in which case the situation could be adequately addressed by rehoming Honey to more responsible owners.

        Killing Honey is not the best or the only solution. It’s just the one that requires the least effort on the part of Animal Control.

  14. Concerned citizen

     /  January 26, 2015

    By the way, the dog approached her neighbors, cornered them, circling them from behind, growling and snapping at them. Do you people seriously think for one second they can’t tell a aggressive dog from a smiling one, what a joke you all are… Smh

    Reply
    • Sounds more like a fearful dog to me. The dog wants to approach, so comes from the safest angle (from behind), then when the people notice her and turn, she feels threatened and reacts. This would be easy enough to train away with practice and repetition. And the fact is that she has never bitten anyone.

      What is the harm in trying to get the yard fenced so she doesn’t get out again?

      Reply
  15. Kim Bryan

     /  January 27, 2015

    Hi, I do apologize for contacting you this way but Honey’s story has been shared in my area. A very small group of us have been working to help you. There are currently 2 attorneys that are interested in the case, along with the Lexus Project that has had a high success in helping pets in this situation. This will be pro bono work (FREE). The only thing needed from you is your involvement as of course none of us own Honey. Please message me as soon as possible.

    Reply

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