Winter Garden commissioner's resolution for Rufus passes unanimously

Orange County family fights to save beagle that bit child

WINTER GARDEN, Fla. - A Winter Garden city commissioner's resolution passed unanimously Thursday night in support of Rufus, a woman's 1-year-old beagle that bit her 4-year-old son's lip and was scheduled to be euthanized.

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. 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.

The proclamation shows that the city of Winter Garden agrees with fighting to keep Rufus alive by giving it political support. Commissioner Bobby Olszewski said as an animal lover who has owned three beagles, he believes something has to be done.

"With this situation going on with Rufus we need to do the responsible thing, and basically as for his pardon because you can't punish a puppy for being a puppy," Olszewski said. "We're hoping Orange County will do the right thing and spare Rufus' life and give him a second chance."

Olszewski said he has received more than 100 letters of support from around the country for taking the steps to do this proclamation in support of Rufus.

West's attorney filed an injunction to stop Animal Services from putting Rufus down. 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.

The meeting was held at 6:30 p.m. Thursday. The commissioner's resolution for Rufus passed unanimously.

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