Pit bull and his owner still living a nightmare after 3 1/2 years

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An ongoing case in Charlottesville, Virginia has pit bull lovers and animal advocates across the nation and around the world up in arms. Toni Stacy and her pit bull Niko have been living a nightmare since December 2014 when Niko was seized by the Albemarle County Animal Control in Virginia.  He has been imprisoned for three and a half years  based on allegations that he killed a cat.

According to Toni and other witnesses, it all started when Niko accidentally escaped from his home. Toni chased after him and found him at a neighbor’s house. The neighbor claimed her cat was dead, and Niko was the guilty one. However, no one saw the dog kill the senior cat, and there were no puncture wounds on the cat’s body, nor was there blood anywhere on Niko’s mouth to indicate he had attacked and killed another animal.  The cat was never taken to the vet nor was a necropsy performed to prove Niko was the killer.

Despite lack of evidence, Niko was deemed vicious and locked up in December of 2014. And he is still there today. The case has gone through the appeals process and is now awaiting a hearing in the Supreme Court of Virginia. According to Toni Stacy, Niko’s owner, who has owned the dog him since he was seven-weeks-old and he grew up alongside a four-year-old child and other animals, has never once showed any signs of aggression toward anyone. To prove Niko’s innocence further, Toni had him assessed by a dog behaviorist who also deemed Niko as non-aggressive.

However, the Albemarle County Animal Control Office is standing strong on labeling Niko a dangerous dog and want him killed. Many rescues have offered to take Niko in, but he is refused his freedom. To inflict further pain and suffering on Niko, he is no longer allowed out of his kennel for exercise thanks to a decision handed down by the Director of Animal Control. When Niko first arrived at the Charlottesville /Albemarle SPCA, he was allowed out of his cage for walks and play time with Toni. He was suffering from so much anxiety he needed to be medicated. Toni was only allowed to visit him once a week and when she did, Niko just looked at her through the cage and cried, his spirit broken and his anguish obvious.

This was nothing short of animal cruelty; keeping a dog in a cage all day and night. Even if a dog is accused of a crime, they still deserve to be treated humanely and their physical and emotional needs met. Human prisoners who have committed far more heinous crimes than allegedly killing a cat, are allowed time in the exercise yard. Why should a dog, another living being not be allowed these same allowances?

According to Toni Stacy and her attorney Elliott Harding, they went to court on March 29, 2018 and unfortunately, they did not win their case in the appellate court. However, they are appealing to the Supreme Court. On a good note, Toni did get outside visits granted for Niko when she visits him, and is allowed to take him out into the exercise yard.

Niko’s case is eerily like the case of Tony the Pit Bull in Clifton, Arizona who was executed in 2012 based on zero evidence that he killed a neighbor’s dog. He was made the scapegoat since he was a pit bull when all evidence pointed to a coyote killing the dog.  Once again there were no witnesses and no medical evidence linking the dog to the crime.

Many are taking a stand for Niko and have launched a petition on his behalf on Change.org



This injustice is happening repeatedly not only in this country but all over the world.  There is a certain breed specific prejudice and hysteria taking place which is causing countless dogs to be killed and the rights of their owners totally disregarded.


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20 replies
  1. Larry says:

    This case is exactly like the case of Lennox in Northern Ireland. It is surely a shing example of animal cruelty at its worst. It is also a case of cruelty to Toni Stacy, the owner. Even the worst criminals in the country are not convicted of crimes without credible evidence and the accusation of a single individual without any forensic evidence to support the allegation is absurd. It is clearly a case of breed discrimination. These officials should all be fired on the spot. They are all a disgrace to themselves and to every citizen of Arbermarle County, Virginia. These people are doing this simply because they can. Toni Stacy and Niko should be reunited immediately. Perhaps an organization like the ACLU should take up this case and certainly every media outlet in the area should be contacted to generate as much publicity as possible. Good luck Staci. Keep up the fight, not only for yourselves, but for every helpless innocent animal that is subjected to this kind of senseless torture by despicable people.

  2. Adrienne says:

    Niko needs help from celebrities, politicians, and anyone who would be able to bring this story out. It reads like the twilight zone where a cat dies, no puncture wounds on the cat, no blood found on the dog and no necropsy done to see exactly why this cat died. This dog has been deemed not aggressive, yet this insane town wants him killed. They just don’t want to admit that possibly they jumped the gun on this sentencing without hard evidence against the dog, but you know these people in “authority” they will never admit they are wrong. Stick together even if someone looses the dog they love because of their pride. I hope this would can get another lawyer to help and maybe sue the town for false arrest especially without any evidence. You would never convict a person to jail without evidence,why this dog. Wonder if the owner of the cat did something to it or it was old and died from fright when it saw the dog? Never any autopsy/necropsy done so who is to say this dog did something to the cat. Pray for your freedom Niko.

  3. Pamela Bolton says:

    Ok. It’s time to stop this BS and send the dog home where he belongs. He was just a convenience to blame He did nothing wrong. Now send him home.

  4. Gizmos Mommy says:

    Isn’t the American legal system top drawer?This can go on and criminals get off on bail or with a slap on the wrist. And God forbid we should step on the toes of criminals while they’re being incarcerated. Oh no can’t have that after all they got rights!!! Isn’t the legal system just great!?! I bet other countries are clamoring to emulate us.

  5. Melissa Gurley says:

    This is just not right let this dog go home he is slowly dieing and they are enjoying it please anything I can do or any of us can do to help you let us know this is so sad

  6. Barkley's Mom says:

    My heart goes out to Toni Stacy and her pit bull Niko. This is a blatant case of pit bull hatred and has gone on much too long. It’s unbelievable that our courts have nothing better to do than to hold poor innocent animals hostage. If this where a human, even with evidence, the offender would at least be able to be out on bail. Why not let Niko go home under house arrest if they really NEED to pursue this vendetta! I am willing to bet Niko did nothing to deserve this in the first place and has served his time, let him go home!

  7. Linda Lopez says:

    Why are people so mean to a dog and hateful and want to condemn them for anything they do? And to humans who abuse and murder pets they don’t do nothing to them? They are so unfair and heartless. You people want to punish this woman and her dog by keeping him locked? Then why don’t you punish people too? Animals are innocent but humans are not. So give this dog back to the owner or you will regret this abuse.

  8. Stephen says:

    As a pit bull and cat owner I can add to this discussion both as an animal lover and as someone who knows a lot about how ” the system ” works,
    It is certainly possible for a dog to kill a cat without blood or puncture wounds. There could be saliva or not.
    Be this as it may this dog should not be punished for doing what dogs do. He is not a danger to humans. The solution should be to require him to me muzzled when off the property and to have the backyard fence made secure.
    ” Animal control ” and the courts will always do what is safest for them to do so as not to bring any scrutiny on themselves. The best course of action would be for the Supreme Court to be presented with the guarantee that the measures I have mentioned will be put in place if the animal is allowed to return home. Since the cta’s death possibly could be natural this seems completely fair but don’t expect the judiciary to do anything but rubber stamp the decision. It might also be offered to the court that the owner will move out of town or have the dog rehomed as a final alternate solution.

  9. Beth Hayes says:

    Pit bulls killed 29 people and 38,000 animals last year alone. This is just one more example. The older they get the more dangerous they are. They are killing their owners and the owners family, they are killing children and the elderly. They kill an average of one human every 14 days, and they maul with life changing injuries several people every single day. This dog should have been put down as dangerous a long time ago. Please do not put the public in danger by letting this dog back out in society

  10. Star Shelley says:

    I can tell you why this stupid Allemarle county animal control, won’t release this poor dog. Why because they do not want to admit they made a fucking mistake. They must have an idiot who runs this animals shelter. How sad they had this pup for over 3 years. And that neighbor, well, she just did not ike the Pitt bill, and this this how she got her revenge because her cat died.

    • Fonda Herring says:

      No it’s not because she hates Pitt bulls is because the Sorry ass Animal Control and neighbor Doesn’t Like Toni. And that is Bullshit. Don’t take it out on an innocent dog bc of personal matters of the owner. Both of them are Sorry pieces of Shit.

  11. Nancy Raymond says:

    Three and a half years is a ridiculous amount of time to keep Niko locked up like a serial killer. It has not even been proven he killed a cat since there is no evidence and never has been.. He is a victim of ignorance, cruelty by Albemarle County’s refusal to admit they are wrong. They need to step up and release Niko back to his owner and stop treating Niko like a damn Charlie Manson.

  12. Red says:

    Sounds like the ACAC in Virginia love to abuse animals….not letting a grown dog have exercise is nothing more that torture!!! Everyone involved in this case at the animal control facility should be fired…how can you lock up an animal, deny it exercise or any other freedoms. THIS IS OUT RIGHT TORTURE and I truly believe Tony Stacy should SUE this animal control!! The “supposed” killed cat was not checked, there were no puncture wounds on the cat and no blood on Niko. What kind of back woods law is this!?!??!?!!?!?


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