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.