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Churchill Man Fights on Behalf of Husky Involved in Tragedy

A local man is advocating for a dog accused of being a killer after an infant died.

When Bill Uhring turned on the news to see a Husky alone, afraid and accused of being a killer, he decided to step in to save the dog’s life.

The Churchill man, who lives within close proximity to took in a Siberian husky that has been branded as vicious by many in the community, local news media and beyond after a baby died in McKeesport shortly after a mother left the room.

Uhring views the incident as a tragic accident and wants to save the dog’s life. On Wednesday afternoon, he filed an official appeal making the case as to why the dog should not be put down.

“Ultimately, we felt bad for the dog and thought these people are about to get hit with a lot of big fines—$2,500 range kind of fines with kennel fees, abandonment fines and other penalties,” Uhring said. “We thought for $600, we could get these people out of a future problem that they don’t need right now—they just lost a kid—and at the same time, save this dog.”

From that day on, he’s described the experience as an explosion.

“I went to work the next day with a feel-good feeling of helping somebody out and then the media turned it into something bad,” Uhring said. “If you read the story in its entirety, I just don’t think a dog should die.”

Originally named Nico—the same name of his own husky—the dog has been renamed Helo, after a cartoon character who faces a firing squad.

“When I saw the dog on TV and saw the rest of the story, I just thought, 'Why are they doing this to the dog?'” Uhring said. “The circumstances in the house were unimaginable. We’re not trying to prosecute the parents.”

He said many of Helo’s supporters have been hard on the parents and original owners of the dog. Uhring urges those people to calm down.

“There’s nothing anybody can do or say to make that lesson any clearer to them,” he said. “No charges or anything and they need to be left be. It was an accident.”

Last week, the dog was released and then taken home to Uhring’s house. Just a couple of days later, the dog was seized for a 10-day holding period required by law of any dog involved in a crime.

While at his home, the 18-month-old dog was introduced to Uhring’s own two dogs and acted like a playful puppy. Uhring saw no signs that the dog was violent. Helo came to the home with a cast on his leg, while Uhring also said the dog seemed to be very hungry.

Neighbors started to complain after discovering the dog was in the neighborhood. Uhring said he was shocked.

“We don’t want anyone fearing walking by our house,” Uhring said. “We are responsible dog owners.”

Helo is now at the Monroeville Animal Control facility until a date for the appeal hearing is set. For now, he will not be put down.

In addition to paying fees, Uhring also contacted The Lexus Project, a specialized law firm based in Queens, NY that represents dogs that have been called vicious and accused in attacks.

“The Lexus Project is here to help any dog who is facing death or incarceration as a vicious / dangerous dog,” the firm’s Facebook page states.  “We want every dog brought to safety and we will help.”

Al Johnson, assistant superintendent of Woodland Hills School District, said the district had nothing to do with the seizure of the dog from the home. He did say he was concerned about the safety of others in the neighborhood. Johnson had no further comments.

Uhring isn’t giving up on the dog.

“The support came pouring in and I thought, 'I can’t back down on this dog now,'” he said. “I know a lot of people say I could bail on him, but I want the dog. He’s a great dog and I want to move forward.”

More than $3,000 has been raised for court, kennel and holding fees through various supporters. For more information on Uhring's efforts, visit the "Helping Helo" Facebook page by clicking here.

djm March 01, 2012 at 02:36 PM
@space--thank you for your sound comment. Too many people are quick to blame animals when it's their own behaviors that have caused the problem. I do hope that this dog gets a chance for his new life with this wonderful man!!
David Andrews March 01, 2012 at 03:15 PM
BRAVO!!! Those that are prejudice to this dog simply are ignorant to animal behavior. I strongly believe in what Ceaser Millan says "Humans need trained dogs need rehibilitated".
JustMe March 01, 2012 at 04:12 PM
Save Helo! This was a tragedy all around, but the dog does NOT need to be put down. He has a second chance at a wonderful life thanks to a very caring individual -- let Helo have a second chance. And you neighbors -- chill out. For heaven's sake, the dog can be fitted with a muzzle, if necessary. Has anyone thought of that simple solution? The dog deserves a chance. Save Helo! Remember -- there's no such thing as a bad dog -- only a bad, irresponsible owner.
Chef Chuck Kerber March 02, 2012 at 01:27 AM
What a tragedy- unfortunately the blame can be placed on the parents, NOT the dog. Only the boneheaded bureaucrats who "run" things in our communities would find it necessary to put this poor animal down. We need some new leadership.
Stephanie Rex March 07, 2012 at 10:37 PM
A hearing is being held tomorrow to determine the next steps for Helo. We will keep everyone posted.

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