Nobody wins with Smiley’s discovery

With the return of Smiley the dog, Whidbey Animals’ Improvement Foundation finds itself in a very difficult position. When it’s all over and done with, an over-zealous animal lover may end up in jail and the dog may be put to permanent sleep. It’s not a happy scenario for anyone, least of all Smiley, and it could be a public relations nightmare for the animal shelter.

Those who have criticized WAIF so harshly should remember that it will be the animals that ultimately suffer if the community turns their support away from the organization. People will continue to abandon and give up their dogs and cats whether or not the shelter has adequate money or volunteers to care for the critters. In today’s economy, times will only get worse for unwanted pets.

WAIF fought and ultimately won a court battle against former volunteers Bob Baker and Barbara Moran of Freeland in order to euthanize the animal. Smiley had been at the shelter for nearly two years and was deemed unadoptable because of aggressive behavior. WAIF officials felt they would be legally and morally liable if they let someone take Smiley and the dog hurt someone.

In the end, a midnight burglary solved the problem. Someone cut open the fence and took Smiley from the animal shelter near Coupeville, saving the staff from having to euthanize him. Nobody on Whidbey expected to ever see the dog again until a tipster reported seeing the familiar, smiley face of the famous pooch at a dog park on South Whidbey Thursday.

The Sheriff’s Office is holding the dog at an undisclosed location since he is evidence in a commercial burglary investigation. But eventually the dog will be returned to WAIF. Whatever happens to Smiley, people should remember that there’s countless loving dogs with no aggression problems sitting in overcrowded shelters across the nation.

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