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Iditarod musher offers to put down sled-dog Wizard -- if Berkowitz's vet does it

Sean Doogan
Courtesy: Aesthetic Photography

Wizard, a 1-year-old sled dog from Jake Berkowitz’s kennels that attacked and severely injured a 2-year-old girl in May, will likely be put down after the Iditarod musher dropped his appeal to save the animal’s life.

Berkowitz, released a statement Wednesday afternoon, saying that he would allow Wizard to be euthanized if his own vet was allowed to administer the life-ending drugs, with Berkowitz and his wife Robin present.

Read more: Berkowitz explains decision to euthanize

Mat-Su borough attorneys met Wednesday afternoon and are crafting a response to Berkowitz’s offer, said Carol Vardeman, the animal shelter’s manager.

Vardeman said the borough is asking Berkowitz to agree to have Wizard put down at the animal control shelter, with the borough veterinarian present as a witness. Berkowitz also must agree to pay all fees and costs associated with the dog’s impoundment since the attack.  Vardeman said the borough wants to euthanize Wizard this week.  

If the shelter and the Iditarod musher cannot agree about the details of Wizard’s euthanasia, another Mat-Su Animal Control Board hearing has been set for July 17 to address the borough’s request its members reconsider Wizard’s classification as a level 5 animal, dangerous enough that it should be put down.

Wizard attacked Elin Shuck at the Berkowitz dog yard on May 10, leaving her lifeless before medics were able to revive her and take her by helicopter to the hospital. Shuck sustained severe trauma to two major blood vessels in her neck, severe damage to an ear, and one of her vocal chords was permanently paralyzed.

As Shuck recovers from her injuries, the dog's fate has been hotly debated in two hearings after the borough’s chief animal control officer recommended he be classified a level 5 dog – a designation given the most dangerous animals and putting Wizard in line for euthanasia.

The Mat Su Animal Control Board remained deadlocked 2 to 2 over Wizard’s fate on Monday, meaning he could not be put down. Borough attorneys filed a motion for reconsideration earlier this week.

In his statement, Berkowitz said that he is not allowed to see the dog, and does not want him held in the shelter any longer.

The Shucks have not responded to queries made through their attorney.

Contact Sean Doogan at sean(at)alaskadispatch.com