Las Vegas Sun

September 27, 2023

Dog that killed baby still caged in Henderson

Documents show Supreme Court has tried unsuccessfully to have the case mediated

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.

The fate of Onion, the dog that killed a Henderson baby in April, is still unclear as lawyers for a group that wants to save it continue to try to get the Nevada Supreme Court to take up the matter.

Meanwhile, the 120-pound, 6-year-old Mastiff/Rhodesian ridgeback is healthy and is being cared for in two connecting cages at the Henderson Animal Control and Care Facility, according to a city police spokesman.

“We’re still waiting on a decision from the Nevada Supreme Court,” Keith Paul, public information officer for the Henderson Police Department, said Thursday.

Paul declined to comment on documents filed in the Supreme Court that show the court tried to get the case settled in a nonpublic mediation meeting last week, but that meeting was unsuccessful.

Onion was turned over to Henderson animal control officers by its owner, Elizabeth Keller, on April 27 after the dog attacked her grandson, Jeremiah Eskew-Skahan, who was at her 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 grabbed the boy by his face and began shaking him, police said. The boy died at University Medical Center.

After the tragedy, the city was expected to euthanize Onion, in accordance with its vicious dog ordinance. But a group called the Lexus Project intervened.

The Oceanside, N.Y., nonprofit organization has offered to provide funds to place and care for the dog in an animal sanctuary outside Denver. Lexus filed a motion for a temporary restraining order in Clark County District Court to stop the city from euthanizing the animal.

Judge Joanna Kishner, however, denied Lexus’ motion at a hearing in May. In her ruling, Kishner did not determine what action the city should take with the dog but said Lexus had no legal standing because the city now owns the dog.

The judge’s ruling eventually led Lexus to file a notice of appeal with the Nevada Supreme Court, along with two other motions to try to keep the city from euthanizing the dog. The city has filed counter motions.

Lexus has submitted documents to the court saying the grandmother didn't know what she was signing when she gave up ownership to the city. Lexus claims that the grandmother wants the animal to go to the Lexus Project, arguing that gives the organization legal standing to petition for the dog, known in court documents as "A Certain Dog Named Onion."

Meanwhile, the latest action in the case was a nonpublic mediation session set up by the Supreme Court that was held last Thursday in the Henderson City Attorney’s Office.

But court documents filed Monday by Ara H. Shirinian, the assigned settlement judge, showed that meeting was unproductive. The settlement judge signed a form and checked a box that said, "The parties were unable to agree to a settlement of this matter."

Paul declined to discuss what was discussed in last Thursday's mediation talks. Lawyers for Lexus could not be reached Thursday.

All the motions before the Supreme Court, meanwhile, are pending while the court decides whether to hear the case, Paul said.

Bill Gang, public information officer for the Supreme Court, said if the court decides to take up the matter, it would issue an order establishing a schedule for briefs to be filed with the court.

Gang said he didn’t know when that might happen.

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