May 2009
To The Honorable Supreme Court Justice Andrew P. O'Rourke
Putnam County Supreme Court
20 County Center
Carmel, New York 10512

Please give Margie Goudie the opportunity to rehabilitate Hunkie, the Labrador mix, currently in isolation and awaiting death at the Putnam County Humane Society for a bite attack on a Humane Society employee. Please give Hunkie a chance at life with her. Ms. Goudie is a competent dog handler who has successfully rehabilitated, with professional guidance, more than one behaviorally challenged dog she adopted from the Putnam County Humane Society. Ms. Goudie has been a dedicated volunteer at the Humane Society since 2000.

Our culture far too often turns to euthanasia as a tool of convenience rather than as an act of last resort. It will be hard work for Ms. Goudie to rehabilitate Hunkie but she should be given the opportunity to do the work. Hunkie's rehabilitation will take place in a structured, safe environment where only Ms. Goudie would handle him. The employees at the kennel she has engaged would have no interaction with Hunkie as the employees at the Humane Society have no interaction. No member of the public would be at risk, no child, no adult and no kennel employee. With regard to Ms. Goudie's exposure, it has been established that Hunkie loves her and there is low risk of him attacking her. As Ms. Goudie works with a professional behavior consultant to rehabilitate Hunkie, if Hunkie does not meet behavior milestones that demonstrate he can be rehabilitated, Ms. Goudie would agree to his euthanization. There are so many precautions and safeguards in place that it is hard to accept Hunkie not being given a chance with Ms. Goudie. And if Hunkie passes his tests along the rehabilitation road, Ms. Goudie has agreed to move to more appropriate living accommodations to better safely house Hunkie before taking him out of the kennel. When this stage of his rehabilitation is reached, he would no longer be at the same level of risk that he is perceived to be today. Ms. Goudie has already indicated her agreement to take all precautions outlined by the Putnam County Humane Society and follow a set of rules to ensure the safety of all.

Someone suggested removing Hunkie's canine teeth, saying they have personal experience with how successful that approach is in conjunction with a behavior modification program. Many of us would choose life over death if it meant only losing a few teeth.

Hunkie has a behavioral issue for which the Humane Society made no effort to resolve with a professional. The Putnam County Humane Society Mission Statement reads "We consider humane euthanasia in the animal's best interest - if an animal is behaviorally or mentally tormented to the degree that they will not allow any human contact or interaction and only after every effort has been exhausted to modify the behavior issues of the animal." It should not be acceptable to the Putnam County community and Humane Society members that the current Board of Directors chooses to ignore the full mission of the organization they were entrusted to protect. This is a violation of their obligations. Please do not let the Board of Directors set this precedent. What will the future hold for other dogs at the Humane Society under this Board of Directors if they do not uphold the full mission of the organization and the community allows it?

In addition, the Humane Society did not get a medical evaluation of Hunkie, a standard procedure in proper dog behavior evaluations. Ms. Goudie knows that a dog's behavior can be influenced by his physical or medical condition. She was ready to pay for the medical evaluation so there would be no cost borne by the Humane Society. It was pushed aside as irrelevant by the Humane Society.

Many dogs with behavior issues in a shelter improve significantly once they are out of the shelter environment. There are many, many success stories. And, most new families are not the experienced dog handler that Ms. Goudie is. Hunkie is not the danger in the hands of Ms. Goudie that he is being made out to be.  Not everyone is equipped to handle dogs with certain issues but that is another reason why animal shelters should value their volunteers since it is frequently the volunteers who know and love the dogs with issues that adopt them.

Ms. Goudie knows and loves Hunkie. She has not had any problems with him and believes with all her heart that there is hope for Hunkie, hope for him having a life worth living with her. Ms. Goudie is committed to working under the guidance of a professional behavior consultant and trainer with Hunkie. She is prepared to accept euthanasia if he does not meet the benchmarks set by the behavior consultant. A shelter or a community could not ask for a more responsible and competent owner of a shelter dog or any dog. Hunkie is a happy dog with Margie Goudie and he loves her. He has been put in this situation by humans and his life is such an incredible price to pay for our mistakes. Please let Hunkie have a chance, just a chance, at life with Margie.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Respectfully submitted,
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