A four-year-old husky sentenced to be euthanized was granted a pardon by the governor of Maine; though there is still debate as to whether the act is legal or symbolic in nature.
Maine Governor Paul LePage has granted one of his citizens the most unusual pardon of a death sentence. The stay was given to canine resident Dakota, a four-year-old husky who was ordered to be euthanized after she attacked a dog last year. Dakota escaped for the second time and attacked a neighbor dog, which led to the euthanization order.
While Dakota has been on death row, her new owner has filed an injunction with the court in hopes of suspending the euthanization order. She says that Dakota’s first owner was abusive and did not train Dakota appropriately. In essence, that Dakota escaped and attacked another dog was not her fault, and she deserves another chance.
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The Waterville Area Humane Society housing Dakota says that Dakota is a playful, model dog. They do not believe she is vicious in nature at all, and is sadly, a product of the way her previous owner mistreated her. Someone on the humane society’s board mentioned Dakota’s case to the governor, who reviewed the facts of the dog case and said he thought that Dakota should be given a full and free pardon.
Gov. LePage even signed a ‘warrant of full and free pardon,’ though the Kennebec County District Attorney Maeghan Maloney said she’s never seen an ‘official’ pardoning of an animal. Maloney went on to say that the district court would look at the governor’s power under a section of Maine’s Constitution, which says that the governor has the power to remit pardons, though it never explicitly says that goes for animals.
Maloney said that ultimately, the courts will decide whether or not the governor has the power to overrule the prior court order, which means that Dakota’s fate technically still is the hands of the court. Dakota escaped from several owners before being taken to the Humane Society as a ‘stray.’ They knew of Dakota’s first attacking offense, but were not aware of the second one in which the dog died, and petitioned to be able to adopt her out because she was such a good dog at the shelter.
The shelter says that they did not get written confirmation from the District Attorney’s office, but had verbal conversations with animal control that confirmed Dakota could be adopted. Maloney says that her office never approved the adoption, and that her being adopted out was a surprise they’d not approve.
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The case in which the euthanasia order was given was March 21, and with Dakota’s original owner–who no longer owned nor cared about what happened to the dog. The Humane Society and the governor believe that Dakota’s new owner was never given due process and heard in court, and believe that Dakota still has potential to be a fine family pet, though with confinement restrictions.
Dakota’s new owner, Linda Janeski, says that Dakota had been trained to kill small rats by her previous owner, and has been rehabilitated and has not a vicious bone in her body. When animal control learned she’d been adopted out, they went to get her and she was completely complacent. The shelter has used a strict aggression assessment and she passed with flying colors. The governor has said his pardon was similar to that of pardoning the annual turkey each year, but mostly to bring light to her case so that Dakota has the fair trial she deserves.