Berkowitz statement: 'A heartbreaking decision'

June 27, 2013 

Iditarod veteran Jake Berkowitz issued this statement Wednesday on his sled dog, Wizard. The husky has been held by the Mat-Su Borough since May 10, when the borough says it attacked a 2-year-old girl:

"The events of May 10th will always haunt the Shuck family as well as our own at Apex Kennels. The incident was completely preventable and due to a series of poor decisions that day, Elin's life nor Wizard's will ever be the same. Our thoughts and prayers have and will always be with the speedy recovery of Elin and her siblings. Since the attack we have fought for Wizard to live and in two rulings the Animal Control Board has not been able to put Wizard down because they can not recommend a level class 5 status for Wizard. However even after Wizard was ordered to be reclassified by the Chief Animal Control Officer no reclassification has been made and we are still denied the opportunity to visit Wizard. Since May 10th a total of 47 days have passed and Wizard has been kept in a small indoor kennel, with no outside privileges, and devoid of healthy human interaction. We learned of the unauthorized actions of Borough Veterinarian Dr. Katrina Zwolinski bringing her own two children in to the quarantine area to tease and torment Wizard in an effort to illicit a response, an act that any dog would react to. There were no other witnesses, documentation, or licensed behaviorist to conduct a safe and healthy evaluation. We strongly feel that this is an irresponsible way of conducting the necessary steps of treating Wizard and we feel it is inhumane to further torment an animal in these unfamiliar foreign living conditions. At this time, the borough has filed a motion to reconsider the board's decision all while Wizard is still in Animal Control. Our philosophy has always been to give our sled dogs the respect, care, and active lifestyle they deserve as elite athletes. Our puppies and adult dogs are accustomed to being off their chains while having the joy and stimulation to bond and socialize with the other dogs and mushers in the safety of our 10 acre property. Due to no indication of releasing Wizard and what we see as inhumane treatment, we can not continue to allow him to live the way he has at the Mat-Su Animal Control Facility. This is a heartbreaking decision for our entire family at Apex Kennels but one that we as responsible dog owners must make. Sadly we have requested for our own Veterinarian to euthanize Wizard in the comfort and presence of his human family. Wizard, we are sorry that this situation transpired and you will always be in our hearts as well as so many others that you have touched through your short life."

This statement was originall posted on the Facebook page for Berkowitz's Apex Kennels.

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