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Minnesota dog faces death sentence after state high court ruling

December 20, 2012|By Andrew Khouri

Brody the dog may have reached the end of his days.

The Minnesota Supreme Court has ruled that the city of Lino Lakes can destroy the pooch, overturning a state appeals court decision and putting a likely end to a two-year court battle over Brody’s fate.

“They are going to kill my dog tomorrow,” the dog’s owner, Mitchell Sawh, told the Los Angeles Times on Thursday.

The city of Lino Lakes has said Brody is a dangerous dog that bit several people  unprovoked.

But Sawh described his retriever-Rottweiler mix as a peaceful, lovable dog.

Sawh's attorney, Marshall Tanick, said that the city planned to put the dog down Friday, but that he was pleading for an alternative.

"We are trying to avoid that by seeking sanctuary, shelters or individuals who may want to care for this dog," Tanick said.

Tanick said he and his client were considering an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, but he described the possibility as "remote." 

Lino Lakes Police Chief John Swenson said Brody had bitten three people without provocation at the veterinarian clinic where he has been housed during Sawh's appeal. Swenson said those bites were in addition to three “significant bites” Brody inflicted on people that led to the decision to euthanize him.

“It is unfortunate,” Swenson said. “Nobody likes to see a dog put down, but in reality the dog’s owners had the opportunity when the dog was in their care to exert control and keep it from attacking people in the neighborhood. … This is really a failure of a dog owner to control their dog."

The saga began April 8, 2010, when Brody bit his first victim, according to court documents.

Brody bit two more people in the following months, one in October and another in November. After the last incident, the Police Department ordered Brody to be euthanized. Sawh appealed to the City Council, which upheld the police order.

The names of those bitten were identified in court documents only by their initials: C.S., D.I. and C.H.

In D.I.'s case, she was bitten twice, and the doctor who treated her told the Lino Lakes City Council that the bite on her elbow “went through every layer of the skin,” the documents show.

Sawh described the claims regarding the damage his dog caused as overblown, saying Brody was only playing or was provoked. “It’s not mauling we are talking about. It’s very, very minor things,” he told The Times.

A state appeals court overturned Brody’s death sentence last year, saying Sawh's right to procedural due process had been violated. 

On Wednesday, however, the state Supreme Court disagreed with the appeals court, paving the way for Brody's death.

Swenson, the chief of police, said Sawh and his family would get a chance to visit Brody before the dog was euthanized.

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