Owner says Rufus not getting proper care at Orange County shelter

Animal Services says 1-year-old beagle was examined, has been treated

ORLANDO, Fla. - The owner of Rufus, a 1-year-old beagle that bit the owner's 4-year-old son's lip and was scheduled to be euthanized, is speaking out after she says the beagle is not getting the care he needs at the Orange County Animal shelter.

The 25-pound dog was turned over to Orange County Animal Services by the owner, Nikki West, after biting the family's 4-year-old in the lip April 9. Rufus has been at the kennel for more than two weeks and West says because of his treatment his health has deteriorated.

Jamie Halscott, West's attorney, says they believe Rufus has an upper respiratory infection that has not been treated. They also said he has scabs on his body from sitting on the floor of his kennel.

Rufus also hasn't been eating and has lost between two and five pounds since he's been at the shelter, according to Halscott. Now, they want Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs to get involved.

"We've identified rescues that are county approved that will take Rufus in the situation and we're asking the mayor to use her power to use her power to get Rufus transferred," Halscott said.

Orange County Animal Services responded to the allegations on Friday afternoon, saying that Rufus was examined earlier Friday morning and that they found an upper respiratory infection, but that Rufus is being treated with an antibiotic and has been since Monday.

Animal Services also said his health is improving and that he is a bright, alert and responsive puppy. They say he lost about three pounds but that it is not unusual because of the change of environment.

Thousands of residents have sounded off on Rufus' possible euthanization on a Facebook support group and on a Change.org petition. A Winter Garden commissioner even passed a resolution to keep fighting against Rufus' euthanization.

West's attorney filed an injunction to stop Animal Services from putting Rufus down.  The county says West signed the papers turning over the dog willingly but West said she was upset and didn't realize they had planned to euthanize the dog.

Since the appeal was filed, a hearing will be held and a judge will determine what happens to Rufus. It's not clear when the hearing will take place.

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