Service dog spared from imminent euthanasia
For now, efforts to halt the euthanasia of the Alaskan malamute dog Lladk, belonging to the Kollenburn family of Molalla, have been successful.
In July, after Lanea and Caleb Kollenburn's toddler son escaped through the dog door, the couple heard the dog bark. They rushed to find that Lladk had bit the toddler on the back of the head, leaving two lesions that required staples to repair.
Caleb reported the incident to Clackamas County Dog Services, and at a hearing, Joe Turner, an attorney and hearings officer contracted by Clackamas County, sentenced the dog to euthanasia.
Since then, the euthanasia date has been set and delayed repeatedly, with the latest scheduled for Dec. 23-24. Despite a judge's final decision on Christmas week to uphold Lladk's sentence, that euthanasia date has been delayed once again with the help of animal rights advocate Gail O'Connell-Babcock, her husband and maritime attorney, Robert Babcock, and animal law attorney Adam Karp.
In fact, according to County Attorney Scott Ciecko, there is no imminent date for euthanasia at this point.
Though Babcock has exhausted all legal options at the state level, with the court continually affirming Turner's decision to euthanize, Karp is taking the case to the federal level. He is seeking reasonable accommodation for the Kollenburns, who depend on Lladk as an emotional support service dog.
The county is considering this request, per Ciecko.
O'Connell-Babcock continues on Lladk's behalf to petition the commissioners, who denied her previous request to take executive action to stop the euthanasia. She wants to see Lladk released from dog services' custody and sent to one of the multiple rescue facilities that have offered to take him in.
"A sensitive, emotional support dog, Lladk has been incarcerated in solitary confinement since July, sedated with psychotropics to reduce his anxiety," O'Connell-Babcock said in a letter to commissioners and interested parties. "By now, his 'crime' pales in insignificance compared to the county's intransigence and its cruel and unusual punishment."
She added, "It is within the commissioners' authority to issue an executive order permitting options other than death. They are wholly capable of doing so. To date, they have refused to exercise their executive authority."
Now, others are speaking out to save Lladk and urging commissioners to listen to the voices of their constituents.
"I sent various messages previously and am sending this note to remind you that you are elected officials — thank you for doing this job — and you are responsible to listen to your voters and attempt to promote their will," wrote John McNamara, who has years of experience training dogs, in his own letter to commissioners and interested parties.
McNamara went on to suggest a potential explanation for the initial incident.
"The family heard barking and THEN heard the child complaining," McNamara said. "My fellow animal trainers feel that Lladk, understanding that the child was out of place, warned the child by barking and then tried to bring the child — who had escaped the house by way of the doggy door — BACK TO SAFETY. Bites on the BACK of the head? The dog probably tried to carry the child by the neck, seen so often in animals, and how Lladk probably carried his stuffed animals — our best explanation for what happened."
Others are pleading for the dog's life on the basis of compassion.
"Lladk deserves to be home with his family. He's been through enough," said reader Monica Olney. "I'm sure keeping him from his family is so confusing for him. So many have offered to take him. Why keep denying him his right to live? I CANNOT BELIEVE THIS IS STILL GOING ON. Let him free. They've all been through so much this year, and Lanea needs her emotional support animal more than ever now. Death should not be an option. LET LLADK LIVE."
Lanea said Lladk's name came from her initials once she got married: Lanea Linn Apple DeVito Kollenburn.
"He is the definition of our bonded love when we got married," Lanea said. "He was our first love child."
Lanea, too ,has written to the county commissioners.
"He is my dog. It was my child. It's my life," she said in one letter, as she petitioned the commissioners to stop the "murder" of her beloved pet and service animal.
Ciecko said he suspects we will know more next week when the board returns from holiday break.
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