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May 30, 2015

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Supreme Court: City can’t euthanize dog that killed child

Dog attacks, kills infant

KSNV coverage of fatal dog attack and interview with grief-stricken father, April 28, 2012.

It’s official: The city of Henderson has been told it can’t euthanize Onion, the dog that killed a Henderson child, until the Nevada Supreme Court decides what to do with the animal.

The high court has issued a two-page order granting the Lexus Project, which wants to place the dog in a Colorado animal sanctuary, a stay of Clark County District Judge Joanna Kishner’s decision in late May.

Kishner had ruled that Lexus didn’t have any ownership rights to the dog and couldn’t take the dog from the city. The Supreme Court had granted a temporary stay on June 1 to keep the city from destroying the animal.

In its latest filing, the Supreme Court prohibited the city “from taking any action against the dog until further order of this court.” The order, issued Friday, also denied the city’s countermotion to dismiss the case.

Chief Justice Michael A. Cherry and Justice Mark Gibbons signed the order while Justice Nancy Saitta dissented to part of it. Saitta said she didn’t think Lexus has met the criteria for granting a stay.

The Supreme Court’s schedule shows that the city and Lexus are expected to lay out their legal arguments about who should get custody of the dog in briefs due on Sept. 24.

Meanwhile, the 120-pound, 6-year-old Mastiff/Rhodesian ridgeback is still being kept in two large connected cages at the Henderson Animal Control and Care Facility.

Onion has been there since April 27, following the deadly attack on Jeremiah Eskew-Skahan, who was at his grandmother’s home to celebrate his first birthday.

The boy reportedly crawled to the dog and pulled on Onion’s fur to stand up, police said. The dog latched onto the boy’s face with his jaws and began shaking him, police said. The boy died at University Medical Center.

After the tragedy, the boy’s grandmother and owner of the dog, Elizabeth Keller, signed papers turning Onion over to a Henderson animal control officer. The city’s vicious dog ordinance calls for the dog to be euthanized, barring a court order, according to a city spokesman.

Lexus is expected to claim the grandmother now wants to turn the dog’s ownership over to Lexus rather than the city. Lexus has offered to provide funds to place and care for the dog in an animal sanctuary in Yoder, Colo., near Denver.

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