Augusta Sheriff Donald Smith Presents Image of Cage in Bid to Disprove K9 Rico is "Caged in Limbo"
Written by: Michael Phillips
VERONA, VA – In a somewhat confusing Facebook post related to the contested retirement of K9 Rico, Augusta County Sheriff Donald L. Smith released a statement countering claims presented in a recent news report by Breaking Through News. The statement attempts to clarify ongoing concerns about the dog's retirement process and the associated carport issue. The Sheriff seemed to take great offense at our story's representation that K9 Rico was "caged in limbo".
Key Points from the Sheriff's Statement: Sheriff Smith indicated that he was informed by Mission K9 Rescue's Amy Swope about the raised funds for Rico's retirement. Although not all of the funds have cleared due to processing times, plans are underway for Rico's anticipated retirement on August 15, 2023. The retirement, however, is contingent upon completion of the necessary paperwork. In other words, the retirement is underway, but not final. In other words, it is in "limbo". Oxford Dictionary defines "limbo" as "an uncertain period of awaiting a decision or resolution; an intermediate state or condition", which we believe applies to the current situation. We note the Sheriff's objection to the word limbo, however. Contradicting previous reports of Rico's current living conditions, the sheriff assured the community that the dog is well-cared for and is not confined to a small crate. Interestingly, a subsequent image posted depicted a large cage, which some community members have interpreted as incongruous with the sheriff's statement. The sheriff emphasized that Rico's current living conditions mirror his previous ones, with the difference being his location inside the Sheriff’s Office. To be clear, K9 Rico is living in the Sheriff's Office, without his handler, and sleeping in a cage. It may be a large cage, and it may be a nice cage, but it is still a cage and he is still separated from his handler. Sheriff Smith also addressed the carport issue, indicating that the structure was paid for by the Augusta County Sheriff's Office (ACSO) in 2018. Upon former Deputy Dennis Reynolds' separation from the agency, the sheriff explained that the carport's cost, at a depreciated value, would be communicated. Contrary to allegations that the carport's purchase was being used as leverage for Rico's retirement, the sheriff emphasized that the two matters were distinct. The GoFundMe Situation:
The funds for K9 Rico's retirement were raised through a GoFundMe campaign, a platform where donation totals are public and can be easily verified. Despite the transparency offered by GoFundMe, Sheriff Smith is insisting that the agency provide certified or cleared funds before proceeding. Such a demand is unusual. Outside of the realms of real estate transactions or auctions, Breaking Through News could not identify another instance where the county applied this specific requirement. Points of Contention: The sheriff's statement raises more questions than it answers, especially concerning the portrayal of Rico's living conditions. While the sheriff refutes claims of Rico being "caged in limbo," the subsequent image of a sizable cage, along with a description of the ongoing retirement process (limbo), suggests that the dog's living situation might not be as portrayed. Additionally, the Sheriff has not responded to questions about why county taxpayers were ever expected to pay for carports in private homes. Looking Forward:
The community remains invested in the well-being of K9 Rico, hoping for a timely and fair resolution. While Sheriff Smith's statement provides clarity on certain aspects of the ongoing saga, it also raises many more questions and underscores the importance of transparent communication between public offices and the communities they serve.
One question that remains unanswered: When will K9 Rico be able to go home to live with his handler?
The next time Sheriff Smith takes to Facebook to discuss this issue, maybe he will start by answering that rather simple question. Breaking Through News continues to monitor this story closely and is dedicated to bringing forth updates as they become available.