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Video: Mom in fight to save beloved beagle

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Updated: 4/24/2013 1:41 pm
ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. -- An Orange County family is desperately trying to keep its 1-year-old dog from being put down, even though county animal services says it has no choice.

Rufus, a beagle, weighs 28 pounds, and seems shy in the corner of its kennel. But the pup is set to be euthanized soon because it bit the 4-year-old child he lived with.

"We're not talking about a dog that attacked a young boy, we're talking about a dog that got excited about new food," said attorney Jamie Halscott.

Halscott is representing Rufus' owners for free in their fight to get their dog back.

The boy's mother, Nikki West, said Rufus has never seemed aggressive and when he bit her son on the lip, it was a puppy's mistake because he was excited about his new food.
The clash between the two rambunctious young ones resulted in an injury that needed stitches.

A report released by Animal Services states that Rufus traveled about 10 feet and jumped up to bite the boy’s lip as the child was leaving a bedroom and the West was preparing the food.

When West took her son to the hospital, she filled out paperwork she was told was necessary whenever there's an animal bite.

It prompted animal control to take Rufus away, label him as a dangerous dog and put him on the list to be euthanized.

"I can only go and visit him for 15 minutes at a time and when he cries it just breaks my heart because he loves us too, and he's probably wondering, 'Why am I even in here?'" said West.
However, the report states that West voluntarily signed off Rufus to Animal Services, knowing that the dog may be euthanized. West told the officer that she surrendered all of Rufus’ items and did not want anything to remind her of the dog, and that she did not trust it, according to the report.
The report also states that when the officer went to remove Rufus from the crate, the puppy was in a state of fear.
"He's a good dog, never had an incident with them before, been with them his entire life," said Halscott.

Rufus' family took to Facebook and change.org to drum up support for Rufus, and raise money for a legal fund.

Hundreds of Facebook posts express support for the family.

Although thousands of people have already signed the petition online, Orange County Animal Services said the law has its hands tied.

"Rufus severely bit a young child and per the state statute, that we follow, an injury of that severity requires an intent to destroy," said Diane Summers of Orange County Animal Services.

The statute says that even a dog that hasn't been declared dangerous has to be put down if it causes serious injury to someone.

Because the boy needed stitches, the law says that's enough to warrant euthanizing the dog.

"The wording doesn't put in an exemption for inside your own house," said Halscott.

Halscott filed an injunction Tuesday to keep Rufus alive while they appeal his case. The attorney for the family said the boy only needed a couple stitches.
The Save Rufus Facebook page has more than 4,000 likes and a petition posted Monday night has more than 3,000 signatures.

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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of Action News Jacksonville

mrs truesdell - 3/11/2014 11:29 AM
0 Votes
I CANT FIND THE PETITION

Truthseeker - 4/25/2013 5:05 AM
0 Votes
They are treating the Boston terrorist better than they are treating this little dog and the terrorist intentionally KILLED 3 people and tried to kill many more. Is this state's and country's government stuck on stupid or what?

nativejax - 4/24/2013 9:50 PM
0 Votes
What the h3ll is wrong with people anymore...this pup never intentionally bit that child. MURDERERS get treated better.

horserescue - 4/24/2013 8:24 PM
1 Vote
Oh my gosh! Take a families pet but leave more vicious dogs alive??? Really? He only needed a couple stitches and you call that severe? I have 3 kids and when they were growing up we always had animals: dogs, cats, birds.... they got bit, scratched. They got hurt much worse from riding their bikes. Give this family their dog back - show that you DO have a heart! My gosh, think of what you are going to those poor children, there hearts are going to be broken. My heart is breaking for them .... GIVE THEM THEIR DOG! You are teaching people to lie so they don't lose their pets. Way to go - teach our children to lie on top of breaking their hearts.
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