Killing Nikki

In the past 24 hours, Waggin’ Train has been deluged with offers of help for Nikki, the German Shepherd I wrote about yesterday that they “rescued” – and then decided to kill. In those 24 hours they’ve gotten 750 emails petitioning them to release Nikki into a better situation. They’ve been contacted by rescuers who have offered to take Nikki. They have been offered training, behavioral evaluation, donations to support Nikki’s needs. There has been little response other than to shut down their Facebook group and batten down the hatches, and although I cannot confirm it – they’re not talkin’ – I have no reason to doubt that Nikki died today at their hands, on schedule.

One of the principals in Waggin’ Train, Nanette, provided us with a little insight into her philosophy in an email sent to a donor on Nov 22, nearly a month after having her pulled from the shelter and taken to a boarding kennel, and just after seeing her for the first time. She is afraid not for Nikki’s well being, but for liability.

part of being a responsible rescuer is to make the tough decisions (to euthanize) when needed. It’s very hard, and I don’t make them quickly or without serious thought. However, I would rather be the one to make that decision, than for that decision making process be taken from me by a town animal warden or a court, as a result of an injury or an attack to someone

Now, releasing the animal into sanctuary care, as was a possibility, would have negated this which seems to be Nanette’s main concern. Her secondary concern is another shade of the “Angel of Death” complex: if she thinks a dog needs a killin’, then she’s the best one for the job.

I cannot, and will not place a dog that is dangerous…even if it is fear based. The liability is just too high.

And the thing about that is that there’s no indication of this dog being dangerous until Waggin’ Train got a hold of her. Dangerous is in the eye of the beholder; is there an actual bite record here? Prior to Waggin’ Train getting custody this dog lived with a young child and was turned in due to a landlord conflict over barking, not aggression.

In the end I have no idea if this dog was or wasn’t aggressive. I wasn’t there. What I do know is that Waggin’ Train repeatedly refused offers of help. They refused a free consultation with an outside trainer. They refused a free consultation with a behaviorist to evaluate Nikki for possible sanctuary placement. They were so focused on killing her that they would not consider any other option.

It is not right – ever – to kill an animal who has a place to go that provides an appropriate and safe environment for them. Many times people beg to get an animal considered for sanctuary placement, Waggin’ Train instead chooses death. I can’t say I’ve ever met an animal for whom death was superior to sanctuary, because when the animal is alive there is always the possibility of improvement, whereas death is rather final. Having seen formerly feral dogs go to adoption and formerly aggressive animals become the beloved companions of children it’s pretty amazing what can happen when one does not close the door on possibility, even when it takes years to figure out what an animal needs. I have to believe that an animal with no known history of aggression prior to Waggin’ Train taking possession a whopping 2 1/2 months ago would have a pretty good shot at improvement.

But I don’t think we’ll ever find out.

I do not share the decision making process of my rescue dogs with anyone. I do not need any additional trainer’s input. I trust the individuals I have already enlisted (both that also specialize with the GSD breed.) [EDITOR’S NOTE: Neither of these individuals appears to be an accredited trainer.] Although difficult and emotional, I have not come to my decision quickly or without serious thought.

That being said, I am firm on the decision I have made, and the reason I have made it, and will not discuss it further.

The Angel of Death always knows best.

This entry was posted in No Kill, Shelter Stuff, Waggin' Train. Bookmark the permalink.
  • unconscionable. this makes me ill.

  • Dawn

    What a shame for a beautiful animal that was ready to be taken by others! Bloody wrong no animal deserves this!

  • KayRiviello VP NoKill New York

    My very good friend was in the waiting room at the time Nikki was surrendered. Nikki clung to the leg of the little boy she called her own. I have requested that the two women that were together that witnessed this dog being surrendered write an essay about what they saw. A rescue may not be obligated to be completely transparent but as was previously stated, hopefully the donations and reputation reflect the lack thereof. Poor Nikki, she fell into the wrong hands.

    • I would be happy to publish any such written, signed statement.

    • so sad, I can’t believe this, just breaks my heart

  • Ashley

    What a big crock of bull!! These people are ignorance and irisponsible, heartless human beings. I am discusted because they had life giving options but chose to murder, kill a perfectly beautiful creature such as Nikki, justifying killing Nikki is inexcusable!! SHAME ON YOU!!!


    On twitter I #RT’d as many as I could, plastered it all over facebook in hopes that we could save this innocent animals life — it seems now that their decision was marked and couldn’t be changed! So sad that healthy animals are being euthanized etc and for what — because 1 person thinks its the only option, even though they were given others! Nikki’s life was stolen because of a person’s 1 decision – and that to me is inexcusable! How is it that one person can make a decision like that, how can they live with themselves knowing that innocent blood is now on their hands. It wasn’t the dog that had the aggression issues — it was the person who dismissed the other options and murdered this innocent life! May the blood of the innocent soak and stain this person’s hands forever!

  • I hope no-one surrenders any animal to these awful people ever again.. They have proven themselves untrustworthy. Who is going to tell the little boy whose companion Nikki was?

  • Inshared on Twitter and got signatures. I so hoped she could be saved. :cries:

  • db

    Just sent them an email, although I’m sure they aren’t answering those either. There is no excuse for killing this beautiful animal – other than their need to be right and ego. I so hope they had a change of heart, but fear not.

  • sisyphusclimbing

    These people are outrageous, arrogant monsters. It is one thing to believe (falsely) there is no other way. It is another to deny assistance because you are so self satisfied with your own knowledge.

    Kay Riviello, you too have taken animals out of the lobby at NYCACC and unnecessarily killed them when they need expensive veterinary care. You should really reevaluate your own definition of no kill rather than point fingers here.

  • I am not surprised. I put in an application several months ago and heard nothing. I contacted them via email and was told that the person in charge was out of the country. Still, I heard nothing.

  • idiots who value noithing but themselves. when in truth the dog is more valuable.

  • jeannette


  • Kim

    This is clearly NOT an animal rescue group. There is something seriously mentally wrong with this group of individuals!

  • azzholes

  • ALL and any funding should be pulled immediately from these people!

  • sheepzdogz

    Plus we create laws that “neighbors” can report a barking dog problem when sometimes it doesn’t even exist- no one will question it. I know my neighbor did that to someone-else’s dog who barked. The woman had the dog taken away by animal control. We, as pet owners, don’t have any rights other than to give in to the whims of others. It is all screwed up. I would move rather than give up my animals.

  • Mel

    Someone should euthanize Nanette.

    • You know, it was pointed out to me a bit ago that I should remove things like this. It’s embarrassing to say that this sort of comment is so prevalent in rescue blogs that my mind just sort of edits it out as noise.

      I leave it only as an example. Do not make or insinuate personal threats against anyone, further comments implying such will be removed. Violence is not an answer.

  • sounds to me like she just likes killing healthy adoptable dogs! I wonder how many more she has killed! I remember a post about this person and Waggin Train from months back! She was supposed to deliver an animal to someone and she or the animal could not be found by the adoptee!

    • Matt

      this is a completely different group, the one you’re referring to is a transporter from the south. This Waggin Train is a a rescue group in the Northeast, and they’re actually a very well-respected rescue group in the NYC area. They have saved hundreds of dogs from NYC ACC and would NEVER have come to this decision lightly. Much of what was reported here is conjecture and the product of telephone game.

      • Maybe so, but the criticism is of their own making. Nanette’s response was unacceptable and unprofessional. She needs a vacation from her rescue work for a while. She shouldn’t be doing it with such a nasty, condescending and haughty attitude.

      • Nope. All directly from first-person emails from Nanette herself. All quotes above written directly by her. Have email and photo paper trail.

        I’ve got more than enough material to defend myself vigorously in a libel suit and I’d look forward to the publicity. Serve me with papers or pipe down. They’ll end up paying my fees as well as publicly embarrassing themselves… again.

  • Scribbles412

    I have three dogs that were considered unadoptable. They are very well adjusted and will protect my family with everything they have.

  • Chris

    I’ve tried to read all there is about this situation and also tried to find out a bit about Waggin Train. I’m not here to comment on their decision but rather to lay out what I found. First off, this appears to be a rescue that takes and hangs on to some pretty tough dogs–you can look at their Petfinder listing for that. Second, I haven’t seen anyone offer to take the dog–all I read is that other folks want their own assessment and that they’re sure their assessment will show the dog is really a misunderstood sweetheart. I haven’t seen anyone write what they’d do if their own assessment was not good–no one that I could see has said that they are ready and able to take Nikki today no matter what. “Sanctuary” type placements for a young dog like this are usually not appropriate… and you can count on one hand the number of decent “sanctuaries”. It is not easy, nor should it be, to place a dog in a sanctuary. If they’re doing it right, they likely have a pretty long waiting list. My own thoughts are that what is happening to Nikki is the result of this monstrous game of “chicken” that NY ACC plays with the rescues every night…we’ll give you a list of animals to be euthanized, we won’t give you any decent info (not even a decent picture), but we dare you to find a placement for each of the animals—and by the way, its 5:30 pm when we give you the list so you’d better stay up all night cause we start killing at 6 am. That process is the real tragedy. Maybe if the system would allow rescues time and access to do real assessments, not 2 o’clock in the morning assessments, dogs like Nikki could have gone directly to a specialized sort of facility–though I’m not sure one really exists. So instead of immediately turning on folks who try so hard–maybe we should focus on the system that sets up situations like this.

    • Frank

      Thank you for this. It is easy to complain on the internet about what is wrong with the world, but it makes no difference if you do nothing about it.

      What is truly a shame is that someone would go to such lengths to vilify a animal rescue group that has placed hundreds of dogs into loving homes. I suppose John would rather see these animals euthanized in the New York kill shelters than given any chance.

      John, if this rescue group shuts down, God will hold you responsible for the lives lost that this group could have saved.

      • Will He also commend me for stopping them from killing more dogs? C’mon, it just doesn’t work that way. I’ve speculated that they rejected all assistance due to a God complex, along comes a supporter who claims to know God’s will.

        Kindly lift your knuckles so you don’t get blood on my door sill on the way out.

    • They had multiple offers to take the dog. A stay of execution was requested for one week so an assessment could be done by a behaviorist for sanctuary placement. Denied.

      • One rescuer even phoned Nannette at 3am and begged her to release the dog to her.

  • Beth

    Go to their sponsors and complain. Their web page says that they are sponsored by Mars Corporation. I always find it effective to hit them in their pocketbooks. Money always talks.

  • sisyphusclimbing

    Matt, being a well respected rescue organization in NYC who has does tremendous good does not mean they didn’t make a horrible decision in this case. It does not give them permission to act unethically. They had the opportunity to keep trying, instead they chose to shut down and act arrogantly and destroy a life. At some point, unnecessary killing needs to be recognized for the ugliness it is.

  • Frank

    How low can you sink – Attacking a rescue that was put between a rock and a hard place rather than criticize the kill shelters that murder thousands of dogs a year.

    Honestly, you call yourself an advocate for dogs? You think that by writing this will save dogs?

    Answer me this John Sibley – What happens to those dogs that Waggin Train is already fostering if they get shut down because you can’t help but spread hate. If they have to euthanize another animal because your hate speech cut their funding I will make sure all of those affiliates on this blog know, along with the countless Facebook groups I am a part of.

    I have already taken the liberty of taking a screenshot of this blog page and bookmarking your affiliates. I suggest for your own sake you remove this post. Otherwise – Good luck with the shitstorm!

    • I have a screen shot of your public threat to John and his “affiliates”. Not very bright, Frank.

    • db

      So because they have needlessly killed one dog (that we know of) we excuse that because of the others that kill so many more? That makes no sense at all.

      This rescue had options that Nikki had a chance for life. Now she doesn’t. That is just plain wrong.

      Sorry, but I would rather know the truth than to have everything presented as just “hunky dory”. In fact, one of the reasons there is so much killing is that the public is unaware and uneducated. If you can’t be open and transparent then, at the very least, you give the appearance of wrong-doing.

      I’m sorry that you chose to attack John personally. He is telling the truth and if that is a problem, then I suggest that those involved deal with the real problem – the decision to kill a dog when other options were available.

      • Not only did he choose to attack John personally, but he also chose to threaten John on a public forum….Frank is not very bright and a jerk, too.

    • kerry

      wtg Frank. We can not be attacking the same people who are trying to protect these animals. its really too bad that people expect these volunteers to do their jobs without error..

    • Frank, I write quite a lot about the shelter system as well. Truth isn’t hate speech.

      What in the world does “bookmarking my affiliates” mean? What, the other blogs I read and enjoy? Have fun!

      Jerry Sandusky started a foundation that helped lots of underprivileged children, and he only molested a few. Would you like the address to make a donation?

  • No matter which side of the fence you fall on regarding this particular dog, Nikki, you would have to admit that this quote from Nanette is chilling:

    “I do not share the decision making process of my rescue
    dogs with anyone. I do not need any additional trainer’s input. I
    trust the individuals I have already enlisted (both that also specialize
    with the GSD breed.) [EDITOR’S NOTE: Neither of these individuals appears to be an accredited trainer.] Although difficult and emotional, I have not come to my decision quickly or without serious thought.

    That being said, I am firm on the decision I have made, and the reason I have made it, and will not discuss it further.”

    As a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization, Nanette and Waggin’ Train Rescue, does have an obligation to ANSWER legitimate questions regarding animals that they have been entrusted to ‘rescue’.

    That attitude is not only arrogant and wrong, but highly inflammatory. All the criticism she is receiving is well deserved. And this person should be ashamed of herself for how she handled this situation. Maybe she needs a long vacation from ‘rescue’…..That attitude is NOT needed or useful to any of us who want to actually save lives and end unnecessary killing.

    She might want to rethink her arrogance in the future.

    Sad however, that this woman’s hubris and stubbornness cost this beautiful dog it’s life. That is FINAL, isn’t it?

    • Kathy Webb

      Can you provide a link to where that quote was pulled from??

  • Pingback: Killing Nikki | filipinescas()

  • Maria Parker

    I have no words, we are all on here posting and posting for these animals not to be put down, humans should be put down not animals not him

  • I can attest that a rescue in my area adopted out a dog that bit 2 people in the face, within a 48 hour period. Both bites were unprovoked. The adopter returned the dog to the rescue and suggested the dog get some type of rehab training as one of the bites needed to be sutured. A few days later, the dog was back on Petfinder as deemed good with children & other pets. In a case like this, the dog is a definite liability, but does not deserve death. An experienced handler/owner would be the wise choice with proper precautions taken to ensure the dog does not bite again. THE SAME PRETEXT SHOULD HAVE APPLIED TO NIKKI if they believed the dog to be a liability. Death did not have to be an end result 🙁

    • There is no evidence that Nikki had a bite record at all.

      • And what I don’t understand is all the photos of Nikki sitting or standing quietly on a leash with apparently relaxed handlers on the other end of the leash. How can this dog be so dangerous as to warrant extermination when she can (or could at some point) be handled so easily?

  • name

    Warning about this blog: If you hit the “Sucuri Website Verification” link at the bottom this blog has some sort of virus installed on it.

    I ran a test and wouldn’t you know adware popped up from this website

    • The Sucuri warning is due to me not having upgraded to the latest WP installation. Working on that now. The adware is your own problem. 🙂

  • syndes2

    there is always another answer. Need we change this dogs name to Lennox as well?? Killing healthy animals is never the right answer.

  • What is the name of the sanctuary that was willing to take this dog? I know of two dogs with different types of aggression and they need a legit sanctuary to go to. I have looked all over for the names of the registered non profit groups willing to take this dog so that I could contact them about the ones I know of- and I have come up empty handed. I would like to be given a link to the groups willing to take on a dog with issues so that I can let them know about the others. So far, in the case of the others the only groups coming forward have been questionable at best.. so please.. let me know who the legit group(s) are so that I can contact them.

  • makes me sick, looking at this dog, he is not aggressive, I have been around dogs all of my 54 years, this dog is probably nervous but not vicious and did not deserve to die at the hands of his so called rescuers. All that had to be done was to turn this baby over to another agency, have that agency sign a letter that Waggin train is not responsible for outcome after leaving their so called rescue shelter, simple solution, a better alternative than to killing this beautiful german shepherd…….very sad

  • What as ass! How in the world can you justify killing an animal without accepting any help? What makes her/him think that they know what is best for this poor animal?

  • these people at waggin train need to be put down for an big big mistake, and i hope they never get another animal in there care for they don’t know how to take of them, they are pure ass holes

  • how and why would u deny assistance or help, better not ask public for an assistance in money, for what just to put an animal down. may God strike u down

  • You’ve missed the point.

    The point is that when any criticism of an animal organization comes up someone always uses the defense “but they do so much good”. I picked an extreme example to illustrate that ethics doesn’t work that way; the good that you do cannot be saved up to be used as an offset when you’d like to do something grossly unethical. The “they do so much good” defense is a fallacy.

    • The point is valid. And I’ve used it before (with your permission).

  • She is beautiful 

  • She is beautiful