Padi Saved From Death Row, Florida Dog Bite Law Declared Unconstitutio

It all started when a vet’s dog nipped a child in the office waiting room. But there’s a happy ending, complete with a closer look at an unconstitutional law.


It’s a Christmas miracle! Actually it’s a wonderful ending to a lot of hard work that has taken place over the past six months. The festive timing just wraps it up nice and neat and puts a big bow on top!


It seems that Padi, a Florida pooch who was sentenced to be euthanized four months ago, has been sprung. Yes, wee Padi received a pardon earlier this month and is now free to live his life without a death sentence hanging over his head.


Related: Preventing Dog Bites: Tips To Teach Children


It all started on June 4 of this year. Padi was keeping his dad company in his veterinary office and greeting all incoming patients as usual, when disaster struck. A young child got into it with Padi, who responded as dogs tend to do… with a back-off nip. Unfortunately, it resulted in a bloody ear for the child as well as stitches and reconstructive surgery. While witness accounts differ as to who lunged at whom, Padi was the victim of a Florida law which stipulated that even a dog who has never bitten anyone before, would automatically be sentenced to death for causing a severe injury.


So Padi’s pet parent, Dr. Gartenberg, was unable to argue provocation or present any type of defence on behalf of his pet. The Black Lab-mix was seized by authorities and spent three months locked in a kennel behind a sign which read: WARNING, BITE DOG, DO NOT WALK.


Related: Current Dog Bite Prevention Methods Ineffective and Simplistic


Contrary to this strong reaction by Florida courts, the “Free Padi” Facebook page that was set up by friends and family in a bid to pressure authorities into reconsidering their position, read as follows: “Padi is not mean or aggressive in any way. He is a sweet, silly, lovable black lab that was rescued from the streets with a collar deeply embedded into his neck, some time ago. He’s been through enough in his life; he needs to go home now”.


The Lab was eventually released “on bond” until the court had made a final decision regarding the constitutionality of the ruling. On December 17, Judge Andrew Owens’ ruled that while the original legislation was intended to protect people from “unprovoked attacks”, this was not the case with Padi.


Judge Owens further stated that: “The Court finds it illogical and inconsistent that an owner of a dog facing a dangerous dog investigation and classification under [the dangerous dog law] may assert certain defenses such as provocation, defense of a family member or person from an unjustified attack, but an owner of a dog subjected to the provisions of [the severe dog bite statute] enjoys no such defenses, notwithstanding the statute’s constitutional validity, to prevent that statutory mandated execution of their dog.”


Quite the legalese mouthful but the bottom line is definitely one that we can all get our heads around: Padi is free!


While Dr. Gartenberg had hoped it would end well for Padi, it wasn’t until the final ruling was read out that he was able to finally breathe a sigh of relief. The rescue pooch had already suffered a particularly tragic past before being adopted by the vet. To be yet again torn away from his best friend and pet parent seemed unthinkable. And while the furry black host will no longer have free reign of the vet clinic (as a precautionary measure); he’ll definitely be back and living in safety and comfort.


And to all a good night!

Mary Simpson
Mary Simpson

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