A Central Florida family is using a Facebook support page to fight to save their 1-year-old beagle, which bit their 4-year-old child, after learning the dog is going to be put down.
The 25-pound dog, named Rufus, was turned over to Orange County Animal Services after biting the family's 4-year-old in the lip.
Rufus' owner, Nikki West, said she was giving him wet dog food, a special treat for his birthday, when 4-year-old Chazz ran into the kitchen.
"He was so excited about his treat. He was on my legs, he was excited, and Chazz came running around the corner excited to show me his new haircut, and it happened that fast," West said.
West said she rushed Chazz to Arnold Palmer Hospital and was told to fill out some paperwork, a standard procedure for dog bites. She said later that night, at around 10:30 p.m., Animal Services came to her door with more paperwork to take Rufus for a 10-day evaluation.
"I would have never have thought that this would have happened when I signed those papers," West said.
If Rufus didn't show signs of aggression he would be adopted, West said. When she called to check on Rufus she says she was told the bite was too serious and that Rufus would be euthanized.
"He's scared. He's just a scared little puppy in there," she said.
Diane Summers of Orange County Animal Services says West should not have been told by an animal services officer that Rufus may be adopted. Summers said the papers West signed clearly explained that euthanization was the next step once she signed the beagle over after the biting incident.
According to state law and county ordinances any dog who bites another person or animal and causes a severe injury must be confiscated and euthanized. Summers said West has until May 1 to petition for an appeal. Then a judge would decide if the dog is killed or can be returned.
Lawyer Jamie Halscott is representing West and filed a temporary injunction on Tuesday to make sure animal services would not proceed with the euthanization before West can appeal.
"This isn't a case of a dangerous dog that got loose and hurt someone, it's a family pet and an incident that happened inside the family," said Halscott.
Summers says there are no plans to kill the dog before the timeline to appeal expires.
West has now turned to Facebook and started the "Save Rufus" page to raise awareness. In addition to the Save Rufus Facebook page, animal lovers from across the country have started a petition on Change.org and a fund to help fight for Rufus.
Rufus will be kept in the dog isolation area until May 1, when the county will move forward with plans to euthanize him.