DNA evidence exonerates dog from death sentence in US

DNA evidence exonerates dog from death sentence in US

A gentle service dog, facing euthanisation after being declared a "dangerous animal" for killing a Pomeranian, has walked free from an animal control centre in the US after a DNA test acquitted him.

Jeb, a two-year-old Belgian Malinois, was the service dog for Kenneth Job, 79, an Air Force veteran with neurodegenerative disease called Charcot-Marie-Tooth who uses Jed to help him stand and walk.

But Jeb's owners, Penny and Job, of St Clair, Michigan, knew there was no way their much-loved dog was a murderer, and were determined to have him exonerated.

So the family used a forensic technique often used for human defendants to save their dog from death row, CNN reported.

According to court testimony, on the morning of August 24, the Jobs' neighbour, Christopher Sawa, saw Jeb standing over the lifeless body of his Pomeranian dog, Vlad.

Sawa tried to give Vlad mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, but it was too late. Sawa called animal control and blamed Jeb. Animal control took the big dog into custody.District Judge Michael Hulewicz ruled in September that Jeb was a "dangerous dog" and ordered him to be euthanized.

On September 19, the judge said Jeb met the legal definition of a dangerous animal, ruling that the dog should be "destroyed." That was when the Job family asked to have testing done to see whether Jeb's DNA matched the DNA in Vlad's wound.

In a stroke of good luck for Jeb, it came out that Vlad's body was still kept in a freezer by the grieving Sawa family. The Jobs family then arranged to have swabs taken from Vlad's wound and the inside of Jeb's cheek.

On October 24, exactly two months after Jeb was taken into custody, AnnMarie Clark, a forensic DNA analyst at the Maples Center for Forensic Medicine at the University of Florida College of Medicine, sent in her findings: The DNA in the wound did not match Jeb's DNA. "Jeb is not the dog that killed (Vlad)," Clark wrote.

"We were relieved. We were absolutely relieved," said Penny, Ken's wife. Jeb was allowed to go home the week after the DNA results came in. Jobs say Jeb came home a very different dog.

They say that during his nine weeks in animal control, he went from 41 to 34 kilogrammes, and he became scared and skittish. Meanwhile, Vlad's real killer is still on the loose, officials in Michigan were quoted as saying by local media.

DH Newsletter Privacy Policy Get top news in your inbox daily
Comments (+)