Judge halts dog's ordered death for DNA testing

ST. CLAIRE, Mich.- A Belgian Malinois has been given a 30-day stay on orders he be euthanized.

District Judge Michael Hulewicz ruled today the owner of the dog has a month to do a DNA test on a dead Pomeranian to try to clear his dog as the killer.

Hulewicz ruled Sept. 19 the Belgian Malinois named Jeb be euthanized after hearing testimony at a show-cause hearing that Jeb was found standing over the neighbor's dead Pomeranian, Vlad.

Monday, Hulewicz put the case under an advisement period before he submits a final opinion so the Job family, the owners of Jeb, have time to DNA test Vlad.

The court case followed the Aug. 24 incident in which St. Clair resident Christopher Sawa saw Jeb standing over Vlad, both inside Sawa's backyard.

After Sawa determined Vlad was dead, he contacted St. Clair County Animal Control. Kenneth Job surrendered Jeb voluntarily to animal control, according to an animal control report.

Ed Marshall, the Jobs' lawyer, told the court samples were taken from Vlad on Thursday by a veterinarian and sent overnight to the University of Florida for testing. A swab of Jeb was also taken. Results should be ready in about three weeks, Marshall said.

Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Lisa Wisniewski said she made sure a sheriff deputy was present during the DNA swabbing.

"I did not necessarily consent to a DNA test, but I made evidence available to the defense," she told the court.

During the show-cause hearing, Marshall was unaware Vlad was still available for testing. Vlad was stored in a freezer at a veterinarian's office.

Jeb will remain at St. Clair County Animal Control pending final rulings, Hulewicz said. The judge added he will likely issue an opinion in 30 days, as his ruling Sept. 19 was not final because this is a civil case.

After the hearing, Marshall said Vlad's wounds will be tested to see if another dog's DNA is found. If inconclusive DNA is found, he said, the Jobs will need to decide how to move forward — they still have the right to appeal in circuit court. If DNA is found, it could be Jeb's or another animal's, he said.

"If it's a different animal that's found I don't think the judge would rule to destroy the animal," Marshall said. "If it's Jeb's DNA that's found the court's ruling would likely be correct."

Pam Job, Kenneth Job's wife, testified during the show cause hearing Sept. 19 that Jeb is a service dog who helps her husband get up after he falls, because he has a condition that causes his muscles to deteriorate. She also said Jeb is not a registered service animal, but has been trained by herself and her neighbor, who is a veterinarian.

According to Michigan law, a dog is considered dangerous if it bites or attacks causing serious injury or death to a human or animal when it is under the control of its owner. After hearing testimony, Hulewicz said at the show cause hearing that he had no choice but to rule Jeb must be euthanized.

Vlad suffered from severe bruising over both shoulders and a puncture wound on his right leg. There was another deep wound found on his left side that penetrated the dog's chest and broke two ribs. The veterinarian who examined Vlad wrote in his report to animal control that the dog's injuries were consistent with being picked up and shaken by a larger dog. At the show-cause hearing, he said Vlad could have been attacked by a larger animal, like a coyote or mountain lion.

USA TODAY


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