EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ A nonprofit organization dedicated to giving K9 officers a second chance plans to sue the Rhode Island Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RISPCA) over claims the shelter euthanized a dog despite efforts to save his life.
Jim Lamonte, owner of the Seekonk-based K9 PTSD Center, is accusing the RISPCA of putting the dog down even though the organization offered to take him in.
“I never, when I built this center specifically to rescue dogs like Alfie, in my wildest dreams believed that I would have to fight with a rescue to rescue a dog,” Lamonte said, adding that the shelter “did the opposite of preventing cruelty to animals.”
While the dog, a 4-year-old German Shepherd named Alfie, was never a working K9, Lamonte said the facility was built to accommodate dogs just like him.
Lamonte first learned of Alfie when a former RISPCA employee, Kaela Rose Gentile, reached out to him after learning the dog was scheduled to be euthanized.
Gentile tells 12 News she worked regularly with Alfie and believed he didn’t deserve to be put down for his behavioral issues.
“He just showed me over time who he was as a dog,” Gentile said. “We developed trust and understanding.”
Alfie’s behaviors began when he was stabbed in the neck by his owner, according to RISPCA President Wayne Kezirian.
Kezirian said Alfie was adopted into a home, but “immediately showed dangerously aggressive behavior” toward his new owners, so they brought him back.
Lamonte claims he immediately offered to take Alfie in and pay for all of his expenses, but Kezirian said he was concerned with the fact he was never a working dog. Kezirian said he was also skeptical of Lamonte’s interest in Alfie without ever actually meeting him.
Following Lamonte’s inquiry, Kezirian said he reached out to Seekonk’s animal control officer for more information about the facility.
“She told us that the facility was a quality facility and the person did a good job with the animals but he was over capacity,” Kezirian said. “He was licensed for 10 dogs and he had 14, and she would not allow him to take in another animal.”
This is why Kezirian said the RISPCA didn’t allow Lamonte to take Alfie and followed through with putting him down.
But Lamonte claims the animal control officer couldn’t have been more wrong.
“Our animal control officer hasn’t been here in four months,” he said. “She has no idea how many dogs we have here. We only have nine dogs. We had space for one, and that space was reserved for Alfie.”
Gentile said she was fired the same day Alfie was put down and claims it was because she contacted Lamonte for help.
“This particular opportunity was perfect for this dog,” Gentile said, adding that Alfie’s adopted home simply wasn’t a good fit for him. “I am heartbroken and so discouraged that the people who are supposed to be taking care of these dogs to the best of their ability did not entertain every option … they did not exhaust every option for this dog.”
When 12 News asked Kezirian why Gentile was fired, he declined to comment on personnel matters.
“Most shelters would not have given Alfie the chance,” Kezirian said. “We worked with him for two months and it didn’t work out. It’s a shame that it didn’t.”
“I think Alfie was failed by the humans in his life,” he continued. “I don’t think he was failed by the RISPCA.”
Lamonte said he offered a variety of solutions in hopes of saving Alfie’s life, but the RISPCA put him down without considering any of them. He said his main goal now is to hold Kezirian and the RISPCA accountable for Alfie’s death.
“Ideally, the best thing we can get out of this are changes within the organization so that they never allow for this to happen again,” Lamonte said. “This is not the end of Alfie’s story, it’s the beginning.”