Biting dog to be euthanized Friday, its appeals exhausted

  • Article by: ABBY SIMONS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 20, 2012 - 10:33 PM

Officials say they'd be shirking responsibility to keep Brody alive.

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Mitchell Sawh visited Brody Thursday at the Otter Lake Animal Care Center in Hugo, where the dog has been kept during Sawh’s court battles to get him released.

Photo: Richard Tsong-Taatarii, Star Tribune

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The four-year-old Labrador mix who bit three people and embroiled his owner in a two-year legal battle that made its way to the state Supreme Court will be euthanized Friday.

On Thursday, Lino Lakes officials stood by their decision to destroy Brody, who has bit three additional veterinary staff in the two years since he was deemed dangerous and impounded.

"All of these bites came at waist height, they were vicious, they drew blood and were deep," Lino Lakes Mayor Jeff Reinert said. "Thank God these attacks were on adults because if it were a child, I don't want to think about that. It's a chilling result at that point."

Brody's scheduled execution at 4 p.m. comes two days after the Minnesota Supreme Court unanimously upheld a decision by the city of Lino Lakes that ordered Brody be destroyed because of three biting incidents in a six-month period. The high court, reversing an earlier Court of Appeals decision, determined that the city has the right to determine when a dog is dangerous and acted properly. Reinert said the city appealed to the Supreme Court because their city ordinance was in accordance with state law, and affected multiple other cities.

Two sides of Brody

Brody's owner, Mitchell Sawh, visited his dog for the last time Thursday at an east metro veterinary clinic. While his elderly mother sobbed in the lobby, he went to the kennel area alone and came back with video that showed the dog wagging its tail and frolicking in the snow out back.

However, Brody snarled, barked and lunged with teeth bared at a reporter and other visitors, including a police officer, who came to see the dog within its kennel, while Sawh tried unsuccessfully to gain control of him.

"He has lived here two years," a teary-eyed Sawh said as he tried to explain the dog's behavior.

Earlier in the day, Sawh and his attorney, Marshall Tanick, had begged city officials for any sort of reprieve, including taking offers to move the dog out of the city, even the state. Such a request is out of the question, said Lino Lakes Police Chief John Swenson.

"We would be shirking our responsibilities as public safety professionals to expose members of the public to this dog," he said. "I'm a dog lover, I have a dog and nobody wants to put a dog down, but the responsibility for the outcome of this lies with the dog owner. Why wasn't this dog controlled before it bit three people?"

Owner wants 'miracle'

Sawh, an engineer at the Minneapolis Public Works Department, spent tens of thousands of dollars in legal and boarding fees to save his dog.

"I'm still hoping a miracle happens," he said

Tanick, Sawh's attorney, said that legal options are exhausted, save a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court over the case, which likely wouldn't happen. However, they're appealing to the city for a final reprieve.

"Regardless of legal issues, here is a living, breathing animal," Tanick said. "We would hope that compassion and sympathy would play a role at this time of year."

It's unlikely, Reinert said, adding that the dog was given several chances before he was ordered put down more than two years ago.

"It wouldn't be responsible" he said of placing the dog elsewhere. "Not with the history. So I'm going to let other people in a different city get bitten? It's obvious to me what we're dealing with here."

Abby Simons • 612-673-4921

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    Mitchell Sawh of Lino Lakes maintains that Brody, his 4-year-old Labrador mix, isn't vicious, and that the bites resulted from misunderstandings when the dog was either startled or trying to...

  • During his two years at a veterinary clinic, Brody inflicted three more bites, including this one on a staffer’s elbow.

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