Senior Airman Keith Keremes and his wife were away on their honeymoon when they received an emergency call from their neighbor screaming “I’m going to get you” on the other end. They say they’ve had problems with the neighbor since the day they moved into the home they purchased seven months ago.
The Keremes are parents to two Huskies, Nika and Ilya. While they were gone, a pet sitter was caring for the girls. That is when Nika was found with a headless domestic rabbit in her mouth. Nika had no blood on her and the rabbit had no other injuries. When asked to release the rabbit, Nika willingly gave it up.
Nika stands accused of killing the rabbit and for that a Colorado hearing officer has ruled that she too must die. Her execution is scheduled for today.
Nika is 16 months old. According to Keremes, who has owned her since she was eight weeks old, Nika has never shown aggression towards anyone or anything, including the wild rabbits that wandered the base where the family lived previously.
After receiving the call from his neighbor, Keremes contacted his pet sitter Katie, who was also painting the house. Katie told him that Nika had gotten into the neighbor’s yard but Ilya came running into the house as soon as she opened the door. The police showed up a few minutes later, followed by Aurora Animal Control about 30 minutes after that.
According to Katie, the animal control officer immediately took a statement from neighbor who was acting irrational. She said to the police “I’m going to get them out of that house” and was told to “back off” several times for her aggressive behavior towards Katie and her sister, who was there to help her paint.
Nika was in the patrol unit and Animal Control Officer McHugh transferred her to his truck. Once Nika was in the AC vehicle, he demanded that he also take Ilya, who had been in her home since before anyone arrived, and was never even seen in the neighbor’s yard. McHugh had no warrant to confiscate Ilya, so he threatened a citation and possible jail time to Katie unless she provided Ilya.
Upon returning home, Keremes and his wife immediately went to the shelter to visit the girls and speak with the director of animal control, who assured them she did not think the dogs would be put down.
The court date was May 2, five days after the Keremes returned from Mexico. The city attorney spoke with the neighbor and the animal control agent. She then called the Keremes into the hearing room. She notified them that the city would be seeking euthanasia for both dogs!
Keremes writes, “We were dumbfounded and said that we would never agree to that. We were told that we could argue our case in five minutes. We had nothing prepared, very little evidence, no chance to get an attorney, and I, an Airman with a job operating satellites, would be required to cross examine witnesses.
“I am no attorney. I presented our case to save the dogs through countless objections from the City Attorney who wanted to focus on the facts of April 23 and objected every single time I attempted to argue for the character of the dogs. Yes, she objected to evidence of the personality of the dogs during a case determining the fate of our dogs.”
The judge determined that Ilya should be spared but Nika should be put down on May 5, 2014, unless an appeal is filed. The judge warned that even if an appeal is filed, Nika would remain in the tiny kennel in the shelter and the Keremes would be forced to pay for every day she is there, even if she ends up being destroyed.
The Keremes say they don’t have that kind of money. “The future was extremely bleak. We prayed for a miracle.
“We went home dejected, depressed, sobbing, and helpless. I decided to create a page for Nika to see if anyone could help. Even if they end up killing her, the page will be used for her memory and to make sure no family ever feels like we do. The page grew exponentially. We wrote a page at gofundme.com to cover Nika’s expenses.
“The page grew exponentially. I woke up to kind words from friends and a recommendation to start a petition. I did. The page grew exponentially. In roughly 36 hours we have over 6,500 likes at facebook.com/helpsavenika and nearly 10,000 signatures on our petition at change.org.
“People are offering legal advice, media attention, and financial support. We are beyond blessed, but we are only beginning our journey to get our puppy back,” says Keremes.
The Keremes are filing an appeal today. They live in Aurora, Co. For more information about the city government, click on the link.
From SaveNika: We did it!! Due to the publicity caused by the huge success of the website, petition, a fantastic attorney, and more, the City of Aurora was willing to work with us on their decision. We agreed to move Nika to Ohio to live with Rachel's parents until we move out of Aurora in a year or so.
Additionally, the city has agreed that Nika can be transferred to the Mile High Husky Rescue until arrangements can be made for her transport to Ohio. We will be able to visit her here and she will have room to play with some other furry friends during this time.
This is definitely a compromise, but one we happily made to save our little girl. We are closing down the gofundme.com page, claiming victory with our petition, and grateful for each and every one of you.