2 Sylvania Township dogs are granted stay of execution

Hearing set for Tuesday on canines convicted of killing pigs

3/15/2014
BY ALEXANDRA MESTER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Bugger, left, and Nala were found responsible for killing two show-quality pigs in May, 2013.  The dogs’ owners have challenged the Michigan Dog Law of 1919, which says their dogs must be euthanized.
Bugger, left, and Nala were found responsible for killing two show-quality pigs in May, 2013. The dogs’ owners have challenged the Michigan Dog Law of 1919, which says their dogs must be euthanized.

MONROE — Bugger and Nala have a reprieve.

A Monroe County judge on Friday granted a temporary restraining order to stay the execution of the two Sylvania Township dogs — said to be responsible for killing two pigs — at least until the matter can be discussed at a hearing slated for Tuesday.

Judge Michael LaBeau of Monroe County Circuit Court granted the stay — the dogs had been scheduled to die Friday — after a motion in the case was refiled. The dogs’ owners also confirmed an appeal was filed with the Michigan Court of Appeals later in the day Friday.

“It’s not over, but we’re definitely breathing a little easier,” said Janni Juhasz of Sylvania Township, who owns Bugger, a male husky mix. Her daughter Katalin Juhasz owns the female husky named Nala.

The pair of canines escaped their home May 2 and were found inside a barn on Whiteford Center Road just north of the Ohio-Michigan state line and a little more than a mile from their home.

It was there that two show-quality pigs owned by Stephanie Sonnenberg had been killed and a third was injured.

Ms. Sonnenberg said she witnessed the dogs attacking the surviving pig, and said one of them tried to attack her. She was able to restrain the dogs until Monroe County Animal Control arrived to take custody of them.

Katalin Juhasz
Katalin Juhasz

Nala and Bugger were deemed guilty in July at a “show cause” hearing held in Bedford Township as directed by the Michigan Dog Law of 1919. The law requires dogs that injure or kill livestock be destroyed, so the dogs have been on death row while their owners appealed.

Janni Juhasz
Janni Juhasz

Judge LaBeau upheld the dogs’ guilt on Feb. 21 in a first appeal. The hearing Tuesday is slated for 2 p.m. in his courtroom.

An attorney with the Lexus Project, a national organization based in New York that provides legal defense for dogs, had been on the case since Wednesday and crafted the first motion, but she withdrew because of illness. Sajid Kahn, the Juhaszes’ original attorney from APEX Legal Group in Monroe, had been rehired as of Friday.

The court case involves the government and the Juhasz family.

Philip Goldsmith, the attorney for both Bedford Township and Monroe County, is on vacation and could not be reached for comment.

Contact Alexandra Mester: amester@theblade.com, 419-724-6066, or on Twitter @AlexMesterBlade.