Niko was a canine who had been in the care of the Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA (SPCA) since late 2014 after being declared a “dangerous dog.” After many years of litigation by his owners, the Albemarle County Circuit Court recently ordered that Niko be disposed of pursuant to Virginia Code § 3.2-6562, which provides limited options for disposal of a companion animal, either delivering the dog to a new owner or euthanasia, and gives the animal control officer the ultimate decision-making power.
Following the entry of the Court’s Order, Albemarle County proposed two options: (1) the SPCA house Niko permanently; or (2) Niko be euthanized. The SPCA gave serious consideration to the option of housing Niko permanently, particularly since he was doing well in the SPCA’s care, but ultimately determined that this option was not permitted under Virginia law. By law, the SPCA is required to find permanent adoptive homes for the animals it shelters and is not permitted to own or house the animals permanently with no option for later adoption. Despite repeated requests, the SPCA was not allowed to house Niko temporarily while it sought a permanent home for Niko, either in a private home or sanctuary.
Unfortunately, the decision was made by Albemarle County to euthanize Niko. On Thursday, July 14, Niko was taken from the SPCA to another location and euthanized. The SPCA opposed the decision to euthanize Niko, played no role in that decision, and did not participate in the euthanasia itself.
Niko was in the care of the SPCA in its role as the public animal shelter for Albemarle County for more than seven years while the court cases were ongoing. During that time, all of Niko’s veterinary needs were met and he was given a lot of care and attention by SPCA staff. He lived as comfortable a life as could be provided. Niko will be greatly missed by staff and volunteers at the SPCA.
“While the SPCA can sadly no longer improve the life of Niko, the work to better the lives of animals in Albemarle County, City of Charlottesville, and beyond must continue,” said Angie Gunter, Chief Executive Officer of the SPCA. “We are dedicated to providing the best quality of life for the animals in our care with the intent to place them in healthy and caring homes.”