LAS VEGAS (CN) – A federal judge ordered a hearing to determine whether authorities can euthanize Onion, a 6-year-old mastiff-Rhodesian ridgeback mix that killed a 1-year-old child.
Although Onion was scheduled to be destroyed Tuesday, his fate will now be decided Friday.
U.S. District Judge Bob Bare granted the restraining order shortly after it was requested by the Lexus Project, a New York-based animal rights group that hopes to rescue the dog.
Bare will decide Friday if the dog should be destroyed or turned over to a sanctuary just outside Denver.
“Great news for Onion!” The Lexus Project’s Facebook page noted after the judge signed the temporary restraining order. “This is really good so far.”
The 120-pound dog was quarantined after biting Jeremiah Eskew-Shahan in the head and shaking him during after the boy’s first birthday party on April 27. It was also the dog’s birthday, the lawsuit states.
The boy’s father, Chris Shahan, put Jeremiah to bed with a bottle in the living room. The boy asked to give Onion a good-night kiss, and “went over to Onion and pulled himself up by the dog’s fur,” the lawsuit states.
The dog bit the toddler and shook him, but the boy’s family freed him after about 30 seconds. Jeremiah later died at the hospital.
His parents turned the dog over to officials with the Henderson Animal Care and Control in Nevada, requesting that Onion be destroyed.
But animal rights activists say the dog deserves a second chance. “Onion is not a dangerous or vicious dog,” the lawsuit states, “but defendants still intend to kill him,”
The animal shelter declared that Onion “was to be held for a 10-day quarantine period, at the end of which he would be killed as a ‘vicious’ dog,” according to the complaint.
“Onion is languishing in a cell in the local kill shelter that is incapable of providing the dog with the level of care necessary for a dog of his size,” the Lexus Project claims. The group wants to relocate Onion to Blue Lion Rescue in Yoder, Colo., just outside Denver, which has volunteered to take the dog.
The Lexus Project is represented by Kathy McCarthy with Koeller, Nebeker, Carlson & Haluck.