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Judge spares killer dog for another day

Onion, the dog that killed a 1-year-old Henderson boy last month, will live another day – and possibly another week.

District Judge Joanna Kishner said Friday she would rule by June 1 whether to temporarily stop the scheduled euthanasia of the 120-pound dog that mauled and killed Jeremiah Eskew-Shahan.

Lawyers for The Lexus Project, a New York-based dog rescue group, want the mastiff-Rhodesian ridgeback mix to be spared and live out his life in a Colorado dog sanctuary.

Citing public safety concerns, Henderson animal control officials deemed the dog vicious and scheduled it for destruction following the fatal April 27 attack on Jeremiah.

Onion’s supporters challenged that decision, saying the dog was provoked when the small child crawled to the canine and grabbed it to stand up.

The dog responded by latching his jaw around the boy’s head and shaking for about 30 seconds, breaking the tot’s neck and mangling his face. Jeremiah died the next day. The boy’s family said Onion had never shown aggression toward him.

Onion’s scheduled euthanasia has been on hold for more than two weeks because of the ongoing battle in District Court.

After a May 11 hearing, Kishner ruled that The Lexus Project could not stop the euthanasia because it had no ownership rights to the dog and had not exhausted its administrative appeals.

The dog’s owner and Jeremiah’s grandmother, Elizabeth Keller, had signed the dog over to animal control officials after the attack. And in a public statement May 10, the boy’s father, Christopher Shahan, and Keller said they had relinquished their rights to the dog and no longer had an opinion on his fate.

But after the May 11 hearing, Keller signed a sworn statement saying she was under duress when she signed the city form and that she wanted The Lexus Project to have the dog.

The group’s lawyers have asked Kishner to revisit her previous decision since they believe The Lexus Project now owns Onion. They also argue that the city’s animal control law is unconstitutional.

On Monday, Lexus Project lawyers asked the Nevada Supreme Court to intervene and order a stay of Onion’s execution until they can appeal Kishner’s eventual decision. The high court granted the request, which protects Onion for 72 hours from when Kishner enters her written decision.

Contact reporter Brian Haynes at bhaynes@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0281.

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