Dixie gets a reprieve



Dixie has dodged the death penalty.

Following an emotional public hearing in front of about 30 people, the Calaveras County Board of Supervisors on Monday voted 3-2 to pardon the Dalmatian mix for her aggressive behavior. Supervisors said Dixie can continue living with Board Chairwoman Merita Callaway.

Had the vote gone against Dixie, the one-time county animal shelter resident would likely have been destroyed.

The final vote left Callaway near tears. "The last time I remember getting this way as a supervisor was years ago at a budget hearing," she said after the meeting.

Dixie who attended Monday's meeting but slept near the chamber doors in September was taken to the county animal shelter by her Murphys owner.

Dixie never bit anyone, her previous owner said, but she lunged twice at a UPS delivery man and once at a family member.

Supervisors said Monday's ruling could spark a change in county policy. In past years, animals taken to the county animal shelter after being labeled as aggressive were destroyed unless recovered by their owners.

But according to state law, an aggressive dog that is deemed "treatable" cannot be euthanized.

Callaway took Dixie to University of California, Davis, last month, where animal behaviorists concluded that Dixie has "fear aggression" and is treatable, but not adoptable.

Callaway choked back tears during Monday's meeting.

"I think what's helped me is the larger goal, and having people like Kitty (Haspel) remind me that the goal is larger than just Dixie," she said.

After Dixie was brought to the shelter, Haspel a neighbor of the dog's original owner applied to adopt Dixie. The county denied her request.

Callaway, a friend of Haspel, then talked Animal Control Director Jearl Howard into releasing Dixie to her. Dixie has stayed with Callaway since then.

At Monday's meeting, Callaway showed video footage of two of Dixie's tests at Davis. In one test, behaviorists let Dixie frolic with a ball, then used a prosthetic hand to take away the ball.

The Union Democrat
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