AUSTIN -- A few weeks after a dog bit a toddler at Austin Pets Alive!, a judge ruled the shelter must euthanize the dog.
The case started on Sept. 22 when a family brought their 2-year-old son with them to pick out a dog at Austin Pets Alive!. The family went into the dog pen, where up to five dogs at a time can play openly and interact with visitors.
According to the family's lawyer, the child can be seen on surveillance video playing with the lab, Neville, without any incident. When the child attempted to hug the dog, the lawyer said Neville displayed aggressive behavior and bit the small child in the face. The child was rushed to the hospital where doctors gave him 16 stitches.
According to Austin Pets Alive!, however, the parents were asked to not put their child on the ground with the dogs in the first place.
"Common sense dictates: don't have a child loose running around because no dog is dog-proof," said APA! Canine Behavior Manager Mike Kaviani. "The staff did inform them on a few instances to please not let the child down."
The family's lawyer told KVUE they were never told to allow their child on the ground with the dogs.
APA! would not release the surveillance video, but Kaviana describes what he said it shows, "The child hugging the dog on the back and kind of shaking him, and then going to hug him again and then Neville turned and bites the first thing in range, which is unfortunately his face."
According to APA! staff and volunteers, Neville had never displayed aggressive behavior before.
Austin Municipal Judge Ferdinand Clervi ruled Wednesday that Neville must be euthanized in 10 days.
"We're really saddened that our options are so limited now for Neville; that we've been told the dog has to be killed," said Kaviani. "We're outraged; we don't believe this is a dangerous dog at all."
The lawyer for the victim's family said they plan on filing a claim against Austin Pets Alive! for "exposing their child to a dangerous dog."
Austin Pets Alive! announced Thursday evening it has started a petition calling for Neville to be saved and placed in a home outside Travis County.