A Denver family is trying to save their English setter from being euthanized after they surrendered their dog to a local animal shelter for biting their 2-year-old son.
Nicole and Lars Ellingson turned their 10-year-old dog, Watson, to the Denver Animal Shelter after he bit their sleeping toddler in the face earlier this month.
When they dropped the dog off at the shelter, they were told there was a ‘risk he could be euthanized,’ but the couple claimed the shelter agreed to hold their dog for 10 days and release him once they found a suitable home.
When they alerted the shelter that their beloved Watson will be rehomed with the Southwest English Setter Rescue, the shelter told them their dog was set to be euthanized.
The devastated couple told Fox 31 News the shelter’s ‘story has changed.’
‘Now we’re dealing with the fact that this one decision we made under what feels like false pretenses, was a death sentence,’ Nicole said.
Watson, a 10-year-old dog English setter, bit a sleeping toddler in the face and is now set to be euthanized by a Denver animal shelter
Nicole and Lars Ellingson told Fox 31 the situation is a ‘big misunderstanding’ and has found a new home for their pup but the shelter has told the couple that Watson is set to be euthanized
Nicole is pictured with her two-year-old son whose face was bit by Watson, the family dog
A group of protestors gathered outside the shelter on Friday holding signs and chanting: ‘Free Watson…save his life …do what is right.’
A city spokesperson said the family signed the ‘Owner Relinquishment: End of Life Request’ document that grants them ‘full legal custody of the animal.’
The document states, ‘I release full legal custody of the animal described above with the request that this animal be humanely euthanized by DAP.’
The Denver Animal Shelter told the news outlet they will euthanize the dog since he bit the child twice. They also said they do not want to release the animal to the general public for safety reasons.
‘Watson was surrendered to the Denver Animal Shelter last week after he severely bit a child in the face,’ the agency said in a statement.
‘When he was surrendered, it was made clear to the owner that this was a permanent decision. Denver Animal Protection is charged with protecting both the safety of people and animals in our community.
‘Because of the severity of this bite and the history that his owner disclosed to us upon surrender – he has bitten the same child in the face before – we are closely reviewing whether it is safe to release him back into the community.
‘We take this decision very seriously and will act in the best interest of our community.’
Sunday will mark the end of Watson’s 10-day quarantine.
The city spokesperson said they were still reviewing the case and a final decision has not yet been made.
Lars called the entire ordeal a ‘big misunderstanding.’
‘I would love to be hopeful,’ he said. ‘But I think their mind is made up. We hope that can reconsider.’
He added: ‘There’s a good home for Watson it’s a home without children and there is no reason he should not be allowed to enjoy that.’
On the Ellingsons’ Facebook page, there are a number of photos of a happy Watson with the smiling couple as many posted their support and prayers.
‘Oh my goodness Nicole!,’ a family friend wrote.’I’ve been seeing this story all over social media today. My heart goes out to you guys! Hoping for the best all around!’
Watson pictured in this undated photo with Nicole when she was expecting a baby
Lars pictured with Watson having some one-on-one time as they sit on a hammock outdoors
Protestors gather outside the Denver Animal Shelter holding signs and chanting on Friday: ‘Free Watson…save his life …do what is right.’
The Southwest English Setter Rescue has a page devoted to Watson that reads: ‘Free Watson!’ Act Now. Tell Denver to release Watson’
By 8pm Saturday, the Southwest English Setter Rescue posted an ‘urgent’ message.
‘URGENT – Possibly only HOURS to live – SAVE Watson’s life!’ the message read. ‘Call and email Denver Animal Shelter Director Melanie Sobel immediately! Watson should not be killed!
‘Numerous English Setter experts have all been communicating to her since Thursday that this was not an aggressive incident.
‘Not a SINGLE ES breed expert has agreed with the shelter’s aggressive assessment, including DVMs. Watson does NOT have a history of aggression,’ she wrote.
The post has garnered attention from the community with one member pleading, ‘Mayor [Mike] Johnston please intervene!!’