Naivete clouds save Trevor movement

A few long-distance "reconnective healing" sessions, and Trevor the dog won't bite anyone again, wrote reconnective healer Anna Christine Doehring in an e-mail from Nanaimo, BC.

A few long-distance “reconnective healing” sessions, and Trevor the dog won’t bite anyone again, wrote reconnective healer Anna Christine Doehring in an e-mail from Nanaimo, BC.

In an introductory session held Monday, Doehring sent healing frequencies toward the city of Whitehorse dog shelter where Trevor is being held, she wrote.

“Please be patient with the dog … in my opinion he’ll be, after a few sessions, OK,” she wrote.

Ever since Trevor’s story ran nationally in the Globe and Mail, Doehring is only one of dozens of Trevor supporters who have flooded internet forums and newspaper inboxes with entreaties to save the dog’s life.

Trevor, a former Mae Bachur adoptee accused of biting three people without provocation, is set to be euthanized as a dangerous dog by Whitehorse bylaw services.

On Thursday, Whitehorse resident Kevin Sinclair will attempt to secure the dog’s release by court order.

But if released, finding a proper home for Trevor may not be easy.

“This dog is not just for someone with a safe yard,” said Shelley Breadner, a Victoria-based veterinarian specializing in animal behaviour.

“It isn’t just, ‘Okay, I’ve got to train him for 20 minutes this afternoon, and 20 minutes tomorrow, and I’m going to do a half hour on the weekend,’” said Breadner, who has cared for dangerous dogs.

“This is a way of life,” she said.

About one year ago, Trevor was rescued from a McIntyre backyard, where a chain had been allowed to grow into his neck.

After a difficult surgery and recovery, Trevor was turned over to the Mae Bachur animal shelter where, after three months, the adopted dog came into the care of Matthew Allaby.

Allaby claims that he was not informed of Trevor’s past at the time of adoption.

It was Alllaby’s sister, Tamara, not Matthew, who signed Trevor’s official adoption papers – but clearly indicated on the document that she intended to give the dog to Matthew.

Once in Matthew’s care, Trevor quickly exhibited aggressive behaviour.

Within weeks he had bitten Allaby’s landlord and two of his friends.

Trevor’s abusive upbringing in McIntyre prevented him from developing the social skills needed to interact properly with humans, said Breadner.

“He doesn’t have very good social skills, and he doesn’t have an inhibition for biting, so he is a dog that I would classify as a dangerous dog,” she said.

Allaby’s friends say they were bitten just after giving Trevor a friendly pat.

Unfamiliar with human interaction, seemingly harmless movements like petting or even looking Trevor too long in the face could cause the dog to bite, said Breadner.

“They do need to know that this is a dog that’s going to be a liability for life,” she said.

“I wouldn’t be comfortable saying, ‘Yep, if he just gets into a home that loves him he will be fine,’” she said.

Bylaw services was already investigating the three Trevor incidents when an exasperated Allaby signed the dog into the city’s care, to be euthanized.

Adjusting to a different living situation must have been difficult for Trevor, “but I don’t think that excuses biting someone in what sounds like an unprovoked situation,” said Shelagh MacDonald, program director for the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies.

Contrary to accusations, there is no concrete evidence that it was Allaby’s actions that caused Trevor to lash out.

“Dogs are animals and they can be unpredictable,” said MacDonald.

“They’re not robots, and we can never say, ‘This dog is 100 per cent safe,’ or, ‘This dog is 100 per cent likely to bite,’” she said.

Some supporters seem to think that Trevor would be Canada’s first euthanized dog.

An online petition brands Trevor as, “The First Ever Dog on Death Row.”

“Why would Canada, a country that does not support capital punishment, advocate that a dog be sentenced to death?” wrote Arshdeep Singh.

Many letters simply argued that Trevor should be treated as a human.

“If offenders such as Karla Holmolka can be re-integrated into society, why couldn’t Trevor?” wrote Singh, referring to the Ontario-born serial killer.

“If you adopted a child that came from an abusive home, and that child hit another child … would you kill the child?” read a “Save Trevor” Facebook post.

“Canada is becoming like China, but abusing animal rights instead of human rights,” stated another post.

More than 400 people have signed a “Save Trevor” online petition to be forwarded to the Yukon court system.

Petition signers are seemingly oblivious that the legal system isn’t like representative government; a judge does not base a decision on who gets the most signatures.

In the end, animal shelters may have lost the most from the nationally recognized Trevor case.

“It is very important for all shelters to put public safety first,” said MacDonald.

“When (shelters) adopt out an animal that bites someone, unfortunately that does a disservice to the entire shelter community.”

If Trevor is released into improper care – and bites again – they could stand to lose even more.

In 2008, a total of 76,181 cats and dogs were euthanized in humane shelters across Canada.

At least 6,000 of those animals were considered “physically and behaviourally healthy.”

“Unhealthy” dogs and cats made up the rest.

On average, 208 dogs and cats are euthanized every day.

Some will have behavioral problems, and some will not.

With shelters across the country jammed with temperamentally stable dogs, it must have been a “difficult decision” to side with Trevor, said MacDonald.

Contact Tristin Hopper at

tristinh@yukon-news.com

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