Animal control officials got a go-ahead Friday from a state court judge to euthanize a 120-pound dog that fatally mauled a 1-year-old boy at home, despite efforts by a New York-based rescue group to send the animal to a sanctuary in Colorado.
Clark County District Judge Joanna Kishner sided with Henderson city attorneys who argued the attack proved the 6-year-old mastiff-Rhodesian ridgeback mix is vicious, and that an uninvited third party with no ties to the family had no legal right to step in to try to save it.
"Despite good intentions ... a party cannot just come in and state on their own that they wish to be a party to this case," the judge said. "The court has to follow the law. It's not for me to decide what action Henderson should take."
Lawyers for the Lexus Project said they want to appeal.
Kishner declined to issue a formal order postponing euthanasia pending an appeal. But she said there will be time before her order is written, signed and filed.
Henderson city spokesman Keith Paul issued a statement later saying the dog would remain in the city animal shelter until the order is reviewed by attorneys on both sides and signed. He said the process could take several days.
The court proceeding in Las Vegas had its share of drama. The judge declared from the bench that she volunteers at a cat shelter and her family adopts rescue animals. Neither side objected to having Kishner decide the case.
Outside the courthouse, protesters waved signs and staked out their positions on a death sentence for the dog named Onion.
"Don't Punish the Dog," read a poster that Annoula Wylderich waved in a cluster of about 12 animal rights advocates. None said they ever met the dog or its owners.
"Let's Make Dog Tacos," read a sign held aloft by Brad Keith, an electrician standing alone on the sidewalk. He said he learned about the protest on the TV news.
No one inside or outside the courtroom represented the family that was devastated when the boy's first birthday celebration ended in tragedy April 27. Family members later told reporters the dog reacted suddenly when the toddler grabbed its fur to pull himself to a standing position.
City officials said Onion bit the boy's face and head, ripping flesh from bone and holding on for half a minute before family members could pry him away. The boy's grandmother signed ownership and custody of the dog over to city animal control officials and said she wouldn't contest quarantine and euthanasia. Family members have said since that they just want the ordeal to end. Continued...