Dog's fate yet to be decided

December 05, 2002 11:00 pm

By SCOTT PESZNECKER

A memo from Calaveras County's top brass asks that Dixie the dog not be sent to the big kennel in the sky.

When county supervisors meet Monday, they could determine the fate of the 2-year-old Dalmatian mix. Dixie's previous owner brought her to the county animal shelter in early September, saying she had become aggressive toward people.

But in the information packet given to supervisors before their meetings, the county's administrative officer and Animal Control director ask them to save Dixie from euthanasia.

"Hopefully that will not occur," Administrative Officer Tom Mitchell said Thursday. "Hopefully we've given the board enough options that we will not have to take that step."

The canine has never bit anyone. However, Dixie's previous owner in Murphys said the dog lunged twice at a UPS man and once at a family member.

Kitty Haspel, who lived next door to the original owner, disputed claims that Dixie was aggressive and asked to adopt her. The county denied her request.

Board Chairman Merita Callaway then stepped in.

Callaway talked animal control officials into releasing the dog to her in October, and she has cared for Dixie since.

In fact, the memo to supervisors asks not only that Dixie's life be spared, but also for Callaway to keep Dixie indefinitely.

"We have not been able to find a third party to step in yet for Dixie," Mitchell said. "Merita becomes the logical choice. She's had the dog for a number of months and has good relationship with the dog."

Asked if it were an option for Callaway to keep Dixie, Mitchell said, "In my mind, yes it is."

Callaway could not be reached for comment, and Animal Control Director Jearl Howard would not comment about Dixie. His office was referring calls about Dixie to Mitchell.

Calaveras County's policy is to euthanize dogs that have reportedly shown aggressive behavior.

That contradicts state law, which states no "treatable" animal shall be euthanized.