Dexter, a four-year-old pit bull, whose family fought hard to save him from being euthanized by the court has died. Although he was pardoned by the Berrien County, Michigan court, he died because of poor judgment on the part of the kennel where he was in boarding.
Dexter’s case started August 23, 2017 while he was in his family’s yard in Niles, Michigan. On that day, the neighbor inexplicably came into the yard and attempted to untie Dexter and take him into her own yard. The neighbor then filed charges claiming the dog attacked her, her son and her puppy. However, there were no traces of blood or physical signs of a fight. Despite this lack of evidence, Berrien County District Court Judge Dennis Wiley sentenced the dog to death.
But Dexter’s owner, Donald Schaffer was not going to let his dog be killed without a fight. He enlisted the aide of attorney Celeste Dunn who filed a motion to reconsider. Attorney Dunn found a lot of falsehoods in the sentencing. Although the dog was defined as dangerous by law, he could not be put to death based on the Michigan Dangerous Animal Law because he did not kill or seriously hurt a human. Judge Wiley denied the motion to reconsider, so a motion was filed for an appeal hearing which took place in early February.
In the interim, an outpouring of love and support from all over the globe arrived in the form of a petition garnering 4,583 signatures to spare the dog’s life as well as a fundraiser to get him out of the county animal control into a boarding facility where his family could visit him, and he would be given fresh air and exercise. Dexter was moved to the Paws and Claws Kennel in October 2017 where he was a model tenant. The staff loved him and never had any problems with him. They could not understand why he was being deemed aggressive.
On February 8, 2018, Dexter’s case was settled in court in front of a different judge than Judge Wiley. The decision was to spare his life although he would have a dangerous dog label. Donald Schaffer could not bring his dog home until the neighbors moved or Donald found a new place to live. That was the stipulation of the settlement. So, Dexter stayed at Paws and Claws Boarding Kennel. Two weeks before Donald Schaffer and his family were set to move into their new home with their beloved dog, an incident occurred at the kennel that cost this dog his life.
On April 24, 2018, a kennel worker put Dexter into a run next to two boxers that did not get along. The two dogs attacked Dexter, and he retaliated by grabbing one dog by the lip through the fence. The workers hit Dexter with a hammer three times to get him to let go. Now, it was known that these two boxers had given Dexter problems in the past, so why were they placed where they all had access to each other? Also, because of his dangerous dog label, Dexter was supposed to be supervised around other dogs. But because he was deemed dangerous and this incident occurred, he had to be put down.
No matter how you look at it, it’s a tragedy. Thousands of people supported Donald Schaffer and his fight for his dog; money and time were spent to get Dexter’s death sentence overturned and still the outcome was the same. Dexter is dead; two weeks before he was to go to his new home. All of this could’ve easily been avoided. The kennel staff knew Dexter could not be around other animals, and if he was, he needed to be supervised, yet these rules were not followed.
Now another pit bull is dead, and a family is heartbroken, never to recover. R.I.P Dexter. Your suffering is over. Your family fought the good fight for you.
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Martin Luther King, Jr.