Ernest Dempsey — With the labeling of pit bulls as a dangerous breed of dogs, even those family dogs with half of this breed have been targeted as vicious and accused of attacking and killing. Perhaps the accusers know that they can capitalize on the state’s blindness to objectivity and the legal distortion against pit bulls for throwing the dog into the execution chamber. No different is the story of Tony, a friendly family dog in Clifton, Arizona. Since November 2011, Tony has been caged at the Greenlee County Animal Control in Clifton and has been ordered by the court to be put to death for being dangerous.
Nearly 8-year-old Tony is part pit bull and half Sharpei and has been a peaceful dog all his life. However, he suddenly fell prey to a life-threatening trial when he was accused of attacking the neighbor’s dog—a 14 year old female Chihuahua named Peanut—and causing its death, the incident happening on November 16, 2011. The following day, Tony and his two canine friends, also owned by Tony’s owner Michelle Dozier, were seized by the Greenlee County Animal Control. The other dogs were released to return home in March 2012, but Tony was held and ordered to be executed, deeming him dangerous.
However, like many other previous instances of questionable judgments, the court in this case too reportedly lacked evidence to justify its ruling about Tony. According to Dozier, there never has been any forensic report or investigation of the Chihuahua’s death. The owner of the dead dog has claimed that she saw Tony attacking her dog, out on the road—which of course puts her own measures of dog safety to questioning.
“But in her testimony in the hearing on February 23rd, 2012, she said that she didn’t see the beginning of the attack and just saw my two other dogs standing there barking,” tells Dozier.
This change of statement is not the only element putting the accusation against Tony to doubt. While the Chihuahua allegedly attacked by Tony was taken to a vet, the vet’s report as presented in the court concludes that the little dog suffered deep puncture wounds to the abdomen and the intestines were so damaged that the dog could not be saved. The interesting question here arises from Dozier’s explanation that not only has Tony been absolutely friendly around other animals – including dogs of various sizes – but also that Tony has broken teeth, unable to make deep puncture wounds. How could he kill the way claimed by the vet? The disposal of the dead dog’s body without an official investigation to confirm bite reports and other tests has put the entire case a subject of controversy: can justice be delivered without evidence?
So far, Tony is considered a peaceful dog by all except the woman who claims her dog was attacked by Tony and the judge ordering Tony’s execution. The concerned court has also denied the owner’s request for an appeal and maintained the earlier ruling. Tony has been sentenced to be put to death on June 18 while clouds of doubt and questions surround the court’s decision. Will Tony be given a chance for a fair trial? This question is being discussed on the Facebook page for saving Tony. A petition has also been launched to ask Judge Grace Nabor of Greenlee County, Arizona, for giving Tony a second chance at life given that he has been peaceful and there is no solid evidence against him proving him dangerous.
Updates on Tony’s case are posted at his facebook page https://www.facebook.com/groups/savetonytuppyfaith/.