Human InterestThe Examiner

Petition Drive Launched to Save Stone Barns Dogs Targeted for Euthanasia

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Owyn, one of the two livestock guardian dogs who was to be put down more than two weeks ago for killing a pet poodle and injuring its owner. A notice of appeal has provided them a reprieve for now.

Advocates for two livestock guardian dogs at Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture who could be euthanized have launched a petition drive to urge Mount Pleasant authorities and the center to allow the canines to be rehomed.

The two dogs, Luna, a six-year-old Great Pyrenees, and Owyn, a five-year-old Akbash, were scheduled to be put to death on Apr. 19, but a late appeal by Stone Barns, which owns the dogs, has at least temporarily spared the animals’ lives.

On Feb. 6, Luna and Owyn got loose and confronted an older woman walking her pet poodle on a nearby trail that is part of the Rockefeller Preserve. The poodle was attacked and killed by the dogs and the woman was injured.

A state trooper filed a report and the matter was adjudicated in Mount Pleasant Justice Court before Town Justice Robert Ponzini during a hearing in March. The court determined that they should be euthanized, which was scheduled to happen nearly three weeks ago, but a notice of appeal was filed by the Pocantico Hills-based Stone Barns shortly before the action was to be taken.

In an attempt to gather public support for the dogs, publicize the case and get the dogs to a farm or rural setting overseen by people who are trained to handle these breeds, members of the community started an online petition drive on on Apr. 29. As of Monday evening, there were 979 signatures.

“Our detailed proposals to have the dogs professionally evaluated and re-homed (at minimal or zero cost to the Town) in secure, rural environments with willing and responsible new owners named in the proposals, provide a viable, cost-effective alternative, enabling Mount Pleasant to safely and responsibly avoid applying the extreme penalty of euthanasia,” stated the petition.

Currently, Luna and Owyn are being held by Stone Barns until the matter plays out in court, according to Ninoshka De Leon Gill, one of the advocates that is trying to save them.

Gill said there are alternatives to euthanizing the dogs. At least two potential homes have been identified, both of which are farms. One is Kinderhook Farm in Columbia County; the other is in Virginia. She also said that a behavioral veterinarian should evaluate the dogs, but didn’t know if that had been done.

“They should be offered a second chance on a farm that’s far away from the public,” she said.

The petition contends that once the two guardian dogs were out on the trail, they were doing what they were trained to do, which is to guard the flock.

“The guardian dogs remained obediently on the scene, as they had been trained to do, thinking they had acted properly in neutralizing a threat to the lives they were entrusted to protect,” the petition argued in one spot. “They made no further attempts to harm the owner, though they could easily determine she could not defend herself. It was a terrible situation, poignantly characterized by misunderstanding and confusion. The owner is recovering.”






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