Fate of dog accused of biting girl murky | VailDaily.com

Fate of dog accused of biting girl murky

J.K. Perry
Special to the DailyProsecutors are arguing that Max should be put to sleep after allegedly biting the face of a toddler over the summer. Others object, citing the dog's history and medical record.

EDWARDS ” The fate of Edwards resident Donna Griffin is uncertain months after her Labrador retriever Max allegedly bit the face of Singletree toddler Zoie Palmer on July 21.

The 2-year-old girl is recovering after several surgeries to mend her face, but Griffin and Max await the outcome of a court case that could send the owner to jail if she is found guilty and end the dog’s life.

The Eagle County District Attorney’s Office charged Griffin with owning a dangerous dog and owning a vicious dog that caused injury. The charges carry a 2 1/2-year jail sentence and $7,000 in fines. To convict Griffin, prosecutors must show Zoie Palmer suffered serious injuries.

How exactly the July 21 attack on Griffin’s property began is unclear. No one saw how the attack began. Zoie Palmer’s father, Zane Palmer, pulled the dog off his daughter but didn’t see how the attack started.

Prosecutors want the dog put to sleep, District Attorney Mark Hurlbert said.

Griffin has maintained her innocence. A court hearing that might have clarified Griffin’s future was scheduled for Tuesday, but was postponed because of bad weather. The next court date has not been set.

Griffin said she is sorry the girl was hurt, but refused to comment further. Zoie Palmer’s parents could not be reached.

Prosecutors have extended an offer to Griffin that she plead guilty to the first charge, Hurlbert said. So far, the offer has not been accepted.

The dog’s fate rests with Eagle County Court Judge Katharine Sullivan, who could decide anything from putting Max to death or returning him to Griffin, Hurlbert said. Max has been held at the Eagle County Animal Shelter since the court decided to take him away from Griffin in September.

Several people, including the Palmer’s baby-sitter Jeanette Edmonson, put together a petition urging the court to Max to sleep.

“I don’t want the dog back in a yard where he can get out and next time he can kill someone,” Edmonson said.

The petitioners plan to submit 220 names they received to Sullivan, Edmonson said.

But others have defended Max.

“There’s no reason why this dog should be killed,” said Char Newman Quinn, director of the Eagle Valley Humane Society. “The dog’s never hurt anybody before, nobody saw it happen and the dog was in his own yard.”

Rather than euthanizing Max, Quinn said he should be sent to a farm in Georgia where he won’t be around people.

Dr. Susan Klein, an Edwards veterinarian, examined Max’s medical record, which showed past injuries and possible joint and colon inflammation. She suggested the dog acted defensively when the attack occurred to avoid further pain associated with those conditions.

“I don’t feel that euthanizing this dog sends any kind of positive message,” Klein said. “He has absolutely no history of being aggressive and was only protecting himself.”

Staff Writer J.K. Perry can be reached at 748-2928 or jkperry@vaildaily.com.

Vail Daily, Vail Colorado CO

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