DALLAS - A legal dispute over a dog bite at Klyde Warren Park in Dallas has made its way to the highest court in Texas.
Rusty the dog has been confined at Dallas Animal Services for a year and a half while his case winds through the courts. It could now be up to the Texas Supreme Court to decide his fate.
Some Dallas dog lovers are distraught over the case of Rusty since he’s been confined at DAS for so long.
“Can you imagine just being in a cage?” said resident Donna Magro. “Just there day after day after day. It's not right.”
Now that the issue has reached the Texas Supreme Court, Rusty could change how dangerous dog cases are handled across the state.
In December 2017, a non-profit rescue called Dallas Pets Alive took Rusty to an adoption event at Klyde Warren Park. A 2-year-old boy walked up to pet him at the event. That’s when the child's mother says the dog lunged at him.
The boy’s mother said that the dog “literally pulled him to the ground. It was like flailing him around."
Dallas Pets Alive has argued that the child was unattended. And when he approached the dog that was on a leash, Rusty likely reacted in fear.
A Dallas municipal judge ruled that rusty, who was described in court documents as a pit bull terrier-type dog, was dangerous and should be euthanized. But that was halted after Dallas Pets Alive filed an appeal. The city then appealed the group's appeal, arguing the municipal judge's ruling is final.
Nearly 18 months later, that is now the issue awaiting a ruling by the state's highest court.
Dallas City Councilman Mark Clayton is vice chair of the city's quality of life committee. He released the following statement:
“Our job as a city is to protect the interests of citizens. It is tragic a dog bit a child, the lower court ruled in City’s favor. We need to exhaust every judicial process in order to protect public safety."
Rusty advocates, like Penny McLain, believe the appeals process is necessary to protect dogs since municipal judges ultimately work for the city — the very entity that seeks a ruling in their favor.
“I would feel differently if it wasn't someone appointed by the city and doing the city's bidding,” McLain said.
The city of Dallas declined to comment on the pending case.
DAS says it does not have an estimate of the cost for Rusty's confinement, but Dallas Pets Alive might be ordered to pay depending on the outcome in court.