CARE sends Buster to shelter in Texas |

CARE sends Buster to shelter in Texas

Donna Gray
Glenwood Springs correspondent

Buster, the German shepherd mix surrounded by controversy since a Silt woman brought him to Garfield County in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, is now at a shelter in Texas.

Carbondale Animal REscue announced Thursday that Buster arrived at Camp Wolfgang in Ennis, Texas, Thursday. Ennis is about 30 minutes from Dallas, where Buster’s owners, Angelo and Lydia Kingvalsky, have found temporary homes pending their return to New Orleans.

CARE and Sue Schmidt of Silt have bickered over Buster since the dog bit CARE Director Leslie Rockey in October. Schmidt, who brought Buster to Colorado from the Lamar-Dixon temporary animal shelter in Louisiana, has maintained that she has been in close contact with Angelo and that his mother, Lydia, who is the actual owner of the dog, is not able to reclaim him until they move back to their homes in New Orleans sometime later this month.

Angelo Kingvalsky also asked Schmidt to take custody of the dog until he and his mother are resettled, Schmidt has said.

In November, Schmidt sued CARE over possession of Buster because she feared the organization would kill the dog it considered unadoptable after he bit Rockey. Schmidt dropped the case when the Kingvalskys came forward as the owners.

CARE agreed to return the dog to the owners but requested proof of ownership.

Earlier this week CARE said it was having trouble contacting Angelo Kingvalsky and that attorneys for both sides were working on the ownership issue. CARE also said it would decide this week where the dog would reside.

Despite the fact that sending the dog to Texas was contrary to the owners’ wishes, it is in the best interest of the dog, said CARE spokeswoman and board member Laurie Raymond.

“It seemed like the perfect solution. We’re trying to balance our concern for the dog and our concern for the safety of everyone involved.

Camp Wolfgang is a shelter and sanctuary that specializes in rescuing German shepherds and mixes, and has expert skill in dealing with problem dogs, Raymond said.

“He’ll have more freedom than he did at CARE, and he’ll be closer to his owners,” Raymond said.

Schmidt said she was devastated and angered by the news that Buster was sent to Texas.

“Am I angry? You bet I am. This is a personal vendetta against me,” Schmidt said. “These people have no caring or feeling for animals, none whatsoever. … These animals have been through hell. I am outraged. This is unfair.”

Schmidt said records verify that Lydia Kingvalsky is Buster’s owner, including vaccination records with her phone number.

“Now they don’t believe [she is] the owner … . Well, now they don’t have to worry about it,” she said. “How uncaring can these people be? All they’re worried about is making sure they get even with me.”

The Kingvalskys can visit Buster at Camp Wolfgang at any time, said CARE consultant Tracey Yajko, and they can reclaim him at any time.

Raymond and others at CARE have questioned whether Angelo Kingvalsky wants to reclaim the dog.

“He hasn’t asked about how the dog is,” she said, nor has he asked about the bite.

Buster could have a permanent home at Camp Wolfgang, which is also a sanctuary for problem dogs.

“They are qualified to do behavioral rehabilitation. It’s the best thing we could have hoped for him,” Raymond said. “We still had concerns about safety. We had him for five weeks, and this is an extremely unpredictable dog. He was extremely aggressive, even to people he knows.”

However Buster’s life unfolds, “they will not euthanize him,” Raymond said. “Because a dog is aggressive doesn’t mean we’re not pulling for it to go on and have happy life and be useful.”

That is little consolation for Schmidt.

“I can’t believe they did this to this poor dog,” she said. “This dog has been through hell and so has the family, for God’s sake. This is inexcusable.”

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