Family appeals decision to euthanize beagle puppy who bit child



ORLANDO, Fla. - A 1-year-old dog who is set to be put down after biting a 4-year-old child on the lip is receiving outpouring support from the community.

Rufus the beagle weighs 28 pounds and seems shy in the corner of his kennel, but the pup is set to be euthanized because of the bite.

On Wednesday, Channel 9 obtained a copy of the report that outlines what happened the night the boy was hurt.

The mother who is leading the fight to save Rufus said she was too distraught to think clearly that night, saying she has since had a change of heart.

Still, Rufus has been locked up in a cage for the past 15 days. And while everyone's concerned he's going to be put down, Channel 9 has confirmed there are no immediate plans for that to happen.

Mayor Teresa Jacobs even weighed in on the case Wednesday, releasing the following statement:

"We love our children and we love our animals. There are state laws and county ordinances to protect them both, including a defined judicial appeals process. That process is under way, and it will ensure a full and fair hearing of all the facts. In the meantime, rest assured I have instructed our staff to take excellent care of Rufus."

The boy's mother, Nikki West, told authorities her son's "lip had to be reattached and will require future surgery" and that "she was afraid of the dog and did not trust him."

She said it was a puppy's mistake because he was excited about his new food.

When West took her son to the hospital, she filled out paperwork she was told was necessary whenever there's an animal bite.

It prompted animal control to take Rufus away, label him as a dangerous dog and put him on the list to be euthanized.

But West told Channel 9 on Wednesday she wasn't thinking clearly when signing the report and that she never intended to have the dog euthanized.

Her attorney, working his very first case, filed to appeal the decision to put the dog down.

"We'd love to have him back but don't know if that's going to be possible," said the boy's grandmother, Penny DeJeulia.

DeJeulia sat with Rufus during a visiting session on Wednesday and said he deserves a second chance.

For now, Orange County officials said Rufus is safe. They said they're still processing the appeals paperwork.

A hearing will then be set to argue the dog's fate.

The West family said it would be happy for the dog to come home or be adopted into a loving family.

Rufus' family took to Facebook and to drum up support for Rufus, and raise money for a legal fund.

Hundreds of Facebook posts express support for the family.

The Save Rufus Facebook page has more than 4,000 likes and a petition posted Monday night has more than 3,000 signatures.