Onion the Dog of Henderson, Nevada, became an international focal point for animal welfare advocates in their struggle against municipalities and their animal control departments after the death of the family child who was injured by the dog.
The six-year old 120-lb mastiff/Rhodesian ridgeback mix family dog was in attendance at the birthday party of the family’s one-year old tot on April 27, 2012, when at 10:00 p.m. the dog, who was lying on the floor in complete darkness next to the baby after the day-long celebration, became startled as the baby grabbed him. The dog began shaking the baby’s head with his mouth.
The father heard the commotion and ran into room, turned on the lights, and yelled "stop" to the dog. The well-behaved and obedient dog, who the family stated had never shown any aggression previously, immediately stopped shaking the baby. The baby died the next day after emergency hospital care.
The family had called the paramedics and took the baby outside the home. There, the City of Henderson Animal Control, in the middle of the horrific turmoil, waved papers in front of the grandmother of the family, who hurriedly signed them in her grief. She was unaware that in so doing, she had surrendered Onion to the city of Henderson for euthanasia.
Focus for Animal Welfare Groups
For decades, national and local animal welfare groups have argued that municipal codes have been prejudicial against dog that are ruled aggressive against humans and that the fault lays largely with neglect and poor training on the part of dog owners. The case of Onion became a focal point for efforts of such groups.
After local authorities declared the event to be an “accident,” a national animal welfare group advocated for his release to the Blue Lion Rescue Animal Sanctuary in Yoder, Colorado. The licensed, 501c3, non-profit, 35-acre sanctuary is nationally-known for dealing specifically with large breed dogs considered to be aggressive under municipal codes.
The animal welfare group enlisted the legal aid of the Lexus Project, a nationally-known dog rescue group and local counsel was located in Las Vegas. One week later, the family turned over ownership of Onion to the Lexus Project and presented an affidavit to the court that they wished the dog to be transferred to the Blue Lion Sanctuary.
Henderson Mayor Andy Hafen refused to relinquish the dog to the sanctuary despite hundreds of postings to Las Vegas television and newspaper websites supporting compassion and clemency and the raising of sufficient money to pay for his transport from Henderson to Colorado by Blue Lion Rescue trained staff.
Temporary Restraining Order
On May 7, the Clark County court granted a temporary restraining order filed on behalf of the dog by The Lexus Project. A “Save-Onion” trust was established to provide for the care of the dog and a Facebook page was created to receive donations and provide current developments. The events reached international scope after issuance of the TRO.
On Friday, May 11, at 10:00 in the Clark County courthouse, a hearing was held on the attempts by The Lexus Project to obtain custody of Onion. The judge refused to grant custody, and a filing was immediately made to the Supreme Court of Nevada.
A hold on the destruction of the dog was placed, with no termination while the courts review the filings.
On June 6, 2012, the City of Henderson filed a 300-page motion to have the courts order the destruction of Onion.
The court proceedings continue as of June 8, 2012.
- ↑ (2012) Planas, Antonio and Haynes, Brian, “Fatal dog attack ruled accidental”, Las Vegas Review-Journal, May 1, page 1B
- ↑ Nevada baby mauled to death by pet dog during first birthday celebration. NY Daily News (2012-04-30). Retrieved on 2012-05-28.
- ↑ American Sanctuary Association located in Las Vegas, Nevada. American Sanctuary Association. Greenpeople.org. Retrieved on 2012-05-28.
- ↑ (2012) Haynes, Brian, “Group hopes to save dog”, Las Vegas Review-Journal, May 5, page 1A
- ↑ The Associated Press 7:34 p.m. CDT, May 5, 2012 (2012-05-05). Chicago man leads push to save dog that killed child in Nevada. chicagotribune.com. Retrieved on 2012-05-28.
- ↑ http://caseinfo.nvsupremecourt.us/public/caseSearch.do
- ↑ [dead link]
- ↑ Judge spares dog that mauled 1-year-old to death after campaign by animal rights activists to save him | Mail Online. Dailymail.co.uk (2012-05-08). Retrieved on 2012-05-28.
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