Rufus the beagle returns home with family

Nikki West successful in push to bring home Rufus after dog bit her son

By Lisa Bell - Anchor

ORLANDO, Fla. - Rufus, the 1-year-old beagle that bit the owner's 4-year-old son's lip and was scheduled to be euthanized, has returned home with his family.

Orange County Animal Services released the 1-year-old dog to his original owner, Nikki West, and her attorney around 5 pm on Thursday.


Rufus had been at the shelter since April 9th, after he bit 4-year-old Chazz, on the lip.

Local 6 first broke the story after West launched a Facebook page to save Rufus.

She said Rufus bit her son while she was preparing the dog's dinner. She said Chazz came whipping into the kitchen and startled the beagle. The dog jumped up and bit Chazz on the lip, which required several stitches.

After taking her son to Arnold Palmer Hospital, Nikki turned over the dog to animal services, never thinking he'd be euthanized, but the county said the bite was severe and Rufus would be destroyed.

Once the story aired, his plight went viral.

"I'm so happy," said West. "It's been a long, long month."

West said during his month at the shelter, Rufus lost three pounds and contracted kennel cough, but he has now recovered.

Attorney Dawn Berlanga-Helms took on Rufus' case last week. She said after turning over Chazz's medical records, they proved to the county on Thursday, that Rufus was safe to go home.

Now Berlanga-Helms worries that other dogs and their owners could find themselves in similar situations.

"The manner, the administrative process, is not very clear, and for someone who doesn't have an attorney, unfortunately, I think they get lost," said Berlanga-Helms.

As for Rufus, West has arranged for him to be neutered and receive obedience training.

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