Letter to our community regarding Echo

Since February 2, 2023, Ark Valley Humane Society’s world has been turned upside down.

Our mission has always been to ensure the welfare of companion animals through compassion and care. Through every program we run, every partnership we collaborate on, every hour our volunteers give and every day our staff members dedicate – the core of what we do is spent caring for, treating and spending time with each animal that comes through our shelter doors in hopes to give them a better life.

But as with all situations in our lives, it is not a perfect world.

We as an organization have spent countless hours on assessments; inquiries and communication with experts in canine behavioral studies; input from governing state programs; animal shelters and staffers regionally and statewide with years of experience, and with input from our community. We have also tried to be completely transparent with our community on updates, and actions we have taken and why.

After receiving a Veterinary Behavior Center Letter of Support in Boulder, Colorado, with recommendation from two veterinarians, and with the support of the AVHS board of directors, AVHS has decided to move forward with humane euthanasia due to several factors.

From the moment Echo came through our doors and we accepted him, we have cared for him as best we could. We have treated him with the respect, compassion and care that all of the animals coming through our shelter deserve.

For AVHS, our main priority in this decision is keeping the public safe. Given his background of aggressive behavior and circumstances of biting history that were not corrected in the past, we see the presence of this type of behavior as an insurmountable risk to any community. We have also considered what Echo’s quality of life would be like if he was returned into society given his previous behaviors. It would not be a life of enrichment for a dog of his size to be kept inside at all times without exercise and other forms of stimulation.

As an organization, we see the happiest of times with animals, and we also experience pain and extreme heartbreak with animals. This case is the latter.

Whether you have been supportive of AVHS’s decisions in this situation, or have disagreed – we value our community and all animal supporters in our valley. We are all on the same team in wanting to help animals. 

Thank you for your understanding. If you would like to share your thoughts, we are here to accept that feedback. Please reach out to me by email at avanleuken@ark-valley.org.

Amber van Leuken

Executive Director