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Published: Friday, 4/25/2014 - Updated: 7 months ago

Dogs accused in death of pigs released to owner

BY ALEXANDRA MESTER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
The Juhaszes’ dogs, Bugger, left, and Nala are accused of killing two show-quality pigs and injuring a third, all owned by Stephanie Sonnenberg of Bedford Township, in May, 2013. The Juhaszes’ dogs, Bugger, left, and Nala are accused of killing two show-quality pigs and injuring a third, all owned by Stephanie Sonnenberg of Bedford Township, in May, 2013.
HANDOUT. NOT BLADE PHOTO. Enlarge

Story updated at 11:04 p.m. on Friday, April 25, 2014 to reflect the following change: The Juhaszes and their dogs, Nala and Bugger, live in Toledo.

Two Toledo dogs are finally home after nearly a year being held in a Michigan kennel while their owners fought to save them.

A female husky named Nala and a male husky mix named Bugger were released from Monroe County Animal Control on Thursday. Their owners, Janni Juhasz and her daughter Katalin Juhasz, were able to settle the case with the opposing party, signing an agreement in the evening, and were allowed to take their dogs home.

“It was a very happy day yesterday," Ms. Juhasz said this morning, noting that the animal control facility stayed open late to allow them to take the pair home.

The dogs were found May 2 inside a barn on Whiteford Center Road just north of the Ohio-Michigan 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 saw the dogs attacking the surviving pig and said one tried to attack her. She was able to restrain the dogs until Monroe County Animal Control arrived to take custody of them.

Nala and Bugger had been in the pound since then, and the Juhaszes had not been allowed to visit them.

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, and the dogs had been on death row since.

The Juhaszes appealed the case on constitutional grounds with Monroe County Circuit Court, but Judge Michael LaBeau ruled against them in February. The case had been filed with the Michigan Court of Appeals last month.

Ms. Juhasz said it took Nala and Bugger a minute to get over their shock at seeing their owners for the first time in almost a year. But when they did, the dogs couldn't have been happier, Ms. Juhasz said. Bugger, the more excitable of the two, whined and cried.

"He went nuts," she said. "Nala took a minute longer, but then she got really excited."

Once home, the dogs immediately went out to the fenced back yard to play.

"We just stood there and watched them," Ms. Juhasz said. "They were so happy."

The two have also now met a new little human in the family. Ms. Juhasz gave birth to her first child, a girl named Ally, on April 18.

Ms. Juhasz said she and her mother plan to take a little bit of time to adjust to the new baby and enjoy having their dogs home at last, but still intend to campaign for the Michigan Dog Law of 1919 to be changed.

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



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