Over the Memorial Day weekend, Rocky had his last romp through the woods. The young German shepherd ran around the Tin Cup area west of Darby with his owner, Greg Bergren, and Bergren's daughter and a couple of her friends. Rocky also played ball in the yard. And, as Rocky always does, he trailed everyone in the family—Bergren has four kids—around the house. "You can't even go in the bathroom without him following you in there," Bergren says. "He's a family member. That's the tough thing about this."
Darby City Court Judge Chee Burnsides recently ordered Rocky to be euthanized after the dog allegedly bit two people, including a 14-year-old boy, in March and April, bites that Bergren isn't certain Rocky is guilty of. But Bergren pled guilty anyway, thinking a death sentence wasn't a possibility. He wishes the judge had offered an option that would spare Rocky's life, he says, even if it meant Bergren couldn't keep him.
Bergren, who owns the People's Market grocery in Darby, has had Rocky, who's about 19 months old, since the dog was a pup. He's with Bergren "24-7," often in a kennel behind the People's Market. Bergren says Rocky's never aggressive toward the salesmen and vendors who come and go all day.
That's why Bergren was surprised when the Darby police accused Rocky of biting a boy in the boy's yard. Bergren says he was skiing that day in March when Rocky apparently escaped his chain-link kennel at home. Bergren was cited for having a vicious dog. He was cited again last month after an officer claimed Rocky had bitten another person, though Bergren insists that at the time of the incident, Rocky was home with Bergren's sons.
The Darby police officer involved wasn't available for comment. Judge Burnsides didn't return calls seeking comment.
Bergren delayed Rocky's euthanization until Burnsides's imposed deadline, May 23. That day, Bergren says he and the entire family drove Rocky to the Bitter Root Humane Association, in Hamilton, but it was closed. By missing the deadline, Bergren is risking arrest.
Bergren says he's scheduled to have Rocky euthanized at a Hamilton veterinary clinic later today. “I don’t want to but I don’t really have any options," he says.
Vicki Dawson of the Bitter Root Humane Association is suprised by Burnsides's order. "I've been here eight years, going on nine now, and it's extremely uncommon," she says, adding that euthanizing a dog is in some cases necessary, but that "a deep consideration needs to be made whether or not the animal is truly endangering the community."