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Emergency petition granted in effort to save killer dog

Updated Friday, June 1, 2012 | 7:06 p.m.

Dog attacks, kills infant

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

Judge rules on euthanizing dog

KSNV coverage of judge's decision about euthanizing Onion, the dog that mauled a 1-year-old child, May 13, 2012.

CARSON CITY — The Nevada Supreme Court on Friday granted an emergency petition that will at least temporarily spare the life of a dog that mauled and killed a 1-year old boy in Henderson.

The motion said the failure by the court to act would have given Henderson officials the opportunity to put the dog to death on Monday.

The Lexus Project, a New York nonprofit group for the protection of dogs, asked the court Friday to give it time to file a full-scale appeal or to allow at least two weeks to study a 24-page decision of Clark County District Court Judge Joanna Kishner, who refused Thursday to delay destroying the dog.

The Supreme Court's order, agreed to by two of three participating justices Friday afternoon, said: "We conclude that a temporary stay is warranted pending receipt and consideration of any opposition to the stay motion.''

The order said the court enjoins ''respondents (City of Henderson) from taking any action against the dog at issue until further order of this court.''

Favoring the stay were Chief Justice Michael Cherry and Justice Mark Gibbons. Justice Nancy Saitta dissented, saying the Lexus Project had not met the criteria for granting a stay.

The victim, Jeremiah Eskew-Skahan was at the home of his grandmother Elizabeth Keller to celebrate his birthday on April 27 when he crawled toward the 129-pound Mastiff/Rhodesian named Onion to pet him, authorities said. The dog grabbed the boy by his head and started to shake him, officials said.

The boy died at University Medical Center.

In the request for an emergency stay, attorney Kathy McCarthy, representing the Lexus Project, said Kishner never notified her clients of Thursday’s refusal to extend the stay.

McCarthy said it seems obvious Kishner wants to permit the killing of the dog rather than having all the legal issues judged.

Kishner said in her order Thursday she reconsidered all the issues, and there is no reason to extend the stay.

“If there is no legal basis for the request, such as in the present case, the court cannot issue an order when it has no jurisdiction or authority to do so,” Kishner said.

The city of Henderson said Keller surrendered the dog to the city after the boy was attacked, and Keller never lodged any objection to Onion being declared viscous.

The Lexus Project initially filed suit and sought a stay to prevent the dog from being euthanized. Kishner ruled against the organization, which then first appealed to the Nevada Supreme Court on May 21.

The Supreme Court issued a stay at that time and ordered Kishner to take another look at the case, which resulted in her ruling Thursday that the city be allowed to go ahead with plans to destroy the dog.

Sun reporter Steve Green contributed to this report.

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