A Denver family is trying to save their English setter from euthanasia after giving up their dog at a local animal shelter after it bit their two-year-old son.
Nicole and Lars Ellingson gave their 10-year-old dog Watson to the Denver Animal Shelter after he bit her sleeping toddler on the face earlier this month.
When they dropped the dog off at the shelter, they were told “there was a risk he might be euthanized,” but the couple claimed the shelter agreed to hold their dog for 10 days and release him once they found a suitable home.
When they informed the shelter that their beloved Watson would be placed with Southwest English Setter Rescue, the shelter informed them that their dog was to be euthanized.
The devastated couple told Fox 31 News that “the story of the shelter has changed.”
“Now we’re dealing with the fact that that one decision we made under what seemed like false pretenses was a death sentence,” Nicole said.
Watson, a 10-year-old English setter dog, bit a sleeping toddler on the face and is now said to be euthanized by a Denver animal shelter
Nicole and Lars Ellingson told Fox 31 the situation was a “huge misunderstanding” and they’ve found a new home for their pup, but the shelter has told the couple that Watson should be euthanized
Nicole is pictured with her two-year-old son whose face was bitten by Watson, the family dog
A group of protesters gathered outside the shelter with signs on Friday and chanted: “Free Watson… save his life… do what’s right.”
A city spokesman said the family had signed the Owner’s Waiver: End-of-Life Request document, which gave them “full custody of the animal.”
The document states: “I fully release custody of the animal described above with a request that this animal be humanely euthanized by DAP.”
The Denver Animal Shelter told the news outlet they were euthanizing the dog because it bit the child twice. They also said they don’t want to release the animal to the public for safety reasons.
“Watson was handed over to the Denver Animal Shelter last week after severely biting a child on the face,” the agency said in a statement.
“When it was handed over, the owner was made clear that this was a permanent decision.” Denver Animal Protection is committed to protecting the safety of people and animals in our community.
“Due to the severity of this bite and the history provided to us by his owner upon delivery – he has bitten the same child on the face before – we are carefully evaluating whether it is safe to release him back into the community.”
“We take this decision very seriously and will act in the best interests of our community.”
Watson’s ten-day quarantine ends on Sunday.
The city spokesman said the case is still under review and a final decision has not yet been made.
Lars called the whole ordeal a “big misunderstanding”.
“I’d like to be hopeful,” he said. “But I think they’ve made up their minds. We hope we can reconsider.’
He added: “There is a good home for Watson, a home without children, and there is no reason why he should not enjoy it.”
The Ellingsons’ Facebook page has a series of photos of a happy Watson with the smiling couple, many of whom have posted their support and prayers.
“Oh my god Nicole!” wrote a family friend. “I saw this story all over social media today.” My heart is with you! I hope for the best all round!’
Watson is seen with Nicole in this undated photo while she was expecting a baby
Lars pictured with Watson having a one on one chat while sitting outside in a hammock
Protesters gather outside the Denver animal shelter on Friday, holding up signs and shouting, “Free Watson… save his life… do what’s right.”
The Southwest English Setter Rescue has a page dedicated to Watson that says, “Free Watson!” Act Now. Tell Denver to release Watson.
At 8pm on Saturday, the Southwest English Setter Rescue issued an “urgent” message.
“URGENT – May have HOURS to live – SAVE Watson’s life!” the message read. “Call and email Denver Animal Shelter Director Melanie Sobel immediately!” Watson should not be killed!
“Numerous English setter experts have informed her since Thursday that it was not an aggressive incident.”
“NOT A SINGLE ES breed expert agreed with the shelter’s aggressive assessment, including the DVMs.” “Watson has NO history of aggression,” she wrote.
The post drew attention from the community, with one member pleading, “Mayor.” [Mike] Johnston, please intervene!!’
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