Smiley stolen, cops seek hot dog

Shelter manager Shari Bibich pulls back the chain link fence to Smiley’s kennel, showing where the cuts were made.  - Jenny Manning/Whidbey News-Times
Shelter manager Shari Bibich pulls back the chain link fence to Smiley’s kennel, showing where the cuts were made.
— image credit: Jenny Manning/Whidbey News-Times

The theft of Smiley, a mixed-breed dog formerly kenneled at the Whidbey Animals’ Improvement Foundation Coupeville shelter, added a criminal twist to litigation between WAIF and two former volunteers, Bob Baker and Barbara Moran.

WAIF volunteers arrived about 8:30 Saturday morning to find Smiley missing from his kennel.

“It’s just unbelievable,” Baker said. “We don’t know whether to feel happy that he’s out of his cage or concerned about where he is.”

Baker awoke Saturday morning to find a sheriff’s deputy knocking at the door of his Freeland home.

According to WAIF officials, the person or group responsible for the dog-napping used wire cutters to get through WAIF’s cyclone fencing to access the dog area, cut through the chain-link wiring of Smiley’s kennel, pried open Smiley’s doggie door to the heated, indoor portion of his kennel that had been shut for the night, and likely lured the pooch out with hunks of salami, some of which were found at the scene.

Syringe caps — unlike the ones used at WAIF — were discovered Monday morning near the damaged section of cyclone fencing.

“It appears to have been there for a long time and is not evidence in the case,” Detective Ed Wallace said. “This is beginning to be the Roswell of Whidbey Island,” he said of the number of conspiracy theories circulating on the Internet.

The dognapping is considered commercial burglary in the second degree, Island County Sheriff Mark Brown said. The crime carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison and $10,000 in fines.

Shelter manager Shari Bibich is worried about Smiley’s health now that he’s gone. The dog is on a special “CD diet” to maintain his urinary tract. Without it, crystals may form in his bladder, preventing the dog from relieving himself.

The dog should also be kept away from cats, small dogs, male dogs and young children, she cautioned. Prior to November 2008, Smiley was listed on WAIF’s Web site as “available for adoption.” But WAIF now considers the dog dangerous because of aggressive and dominant behavior toward volunteers, which is why he was scheduled for euthanasia after nearly two years at the shelter.

This incident is the latest turn in events of the four-month-long dispute over Smiley’s fate.

The legal battle took flight last fall after Baker and Moran filed two motions, including 14 claims, with Island County Superior Court in an effort to save the dog’s life.

Judge Vickie Churchill ruled against Baker and Moran Feb. 6, lifting the temporary restraining order that kept WAIF from euthanizing the dog since the start of the lawsuit.

However, Churchill quickly granted an emergency stay of execution that Adam Karp, the attorney representing Moran and Baker, filed just after her ruling.

The stay barred WAIF from euthanizing the dog until Churchill can reconsider the issue.

But even without the dog, Karp plans to file a motion to reconsider, which must be filed within 10 days of Churchill’s decision, in case Smiley surfaces.

“If he never shows up, I suppose the case is moot,” Karp said.

Karp also plans to file a motion to dismiss WAIF’s counterclaims.

No suspects are known in the case of Smiley’s disappearance, and no new evidence or information had surfaced as of Tuesday afternoon, according to investigators.

“I plan on filing a public disclosure request to do my own investigation,” Karp said. “I feel obligated to explore this and find out what happened.”

“My concern is that Smiley was under WAIF’s care,” he said, adding the shelter was court-ordered to protect him.

“It doesn’t inspire confidence.”

If you have any information on the whereabouts of Smiley, call the Island County Sheriff tip-line at 360-679-7319.

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