Smiley returned to animal shelter custody

The Island County Sheriff’s Office released Smiley the dog on Monday, back into custody of the Whidbey Island Animals’ Improvement Foundation.

Stephen Paysse, WAIF executive director, made the announcement Monday night at a monthly meeting of WAIF’s board of directors.

Last fall, WAIF had given Smiley a sentence of euthanasia because he was considered too dangerous for adoption. That led to a court battle, which WAIF won, but Smiley was stolen from the animal shelter in Coupeville shortly after the court decision.

Smiley will now remain off-island at the home of “an internationally renowned, professional dog trainer,” Paysee said.

The Island County Sheriff’s Office held Smiley while conducting an investigation of the dognapping. Detective Ed Wallace said the prosecutor needs to review the police investigation before deciding whether to file charges.

Don Rowan, WAIF board president, said the name of Smiley’s trainer will not be released because he’s not sure if the training will be successful.

“We’re not being cagey about this, it’s just difficult to say,” Rowan said.

Bob Baker, who filed suit against WAIF in November, also attended the meeting.

“I just want you to know that I’m pleased to hear that the term ‘euthanasia’ was not used in relation to Smiley, that he is in training, that it is WAIF’s property now. ... I still have that fear that that’s going to happen. But it sounds like he’s going to be in training,” Baker told the board of directors in Freeland.

In terms of liability, Rowan described the shelter’s responsibility for Smiley now that he’s back in WAIF’s care.

“Because we’re transferring the dog, instead of adopting the dog, some of our liability issues change,” he said, describing the trainer’s plans for Smiley. “They want time with the dog. We’re not talking a day-to-day operation, we’re talking a couple weeks or months,” he said.

“Our goal is a happy ending. That’s the goal of the staff and that’s the goal of the board,” Paysse said.

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