ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - A dog taken from an Orange County family following a biting incident has been returned to his owners after a month-long battle.
Rufus, a 1-year-old beagle, was taken from the family by Orange County Animal Control after biting the family's 4-year-old child on the lip.
Initially 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.
Later, West told Channel 9 that she wasn't thinking clearly when signing the report and that she never intended to have the dog euthanized.
"If I thought it was so horrible, I wouldn't have been fighting so hard from the very beginning," West said.
An attorney for the family filed to appeal the decision to put the dog down.
Rufus' family took to Facebook and Change.org to drum up support for Rufus, and raise money for a legal fund.
Late Thursday afternoon Rufus was returned to his family.
West said Thursday she thought she was coming to animal services just to visit Rufus, as she often does. She said her lawyer called her and said Rufus was coming home.
West and her son Chaz can't do anything but smile after a bitter battle to take their dog home.
"I was actually in tears because it was taking so long thinking that maybe he wasn't going home," West said.
West and her attorney hope the case could serve as an example for policy changes like a waiting period before taking a dog after a bite.
As for Rufus, several people have stepped up to offer free neutering and obedience lessons.