Dangerous dog off death row in Virginia, but Niko’s future unclear

Dangerous dog off death row in Virginia, but Niko’s future unclear

A Virginia canine that a decide requested be euthanized is nevertheless alive seven years afterwards. But Virginia’s Courtroom of Appeals has dominated his owner are not able to have her sentence thrown out.

It’s been seven several years because a Virginia girl was convicted of owning a hazardous canine, which killed a cat. One particular of the circumstances of the owner remaining out of jail was for the dog, named Niko, to be euthanized.

Seven a long time later, Niko is still alive, and now off demise row, but Virginia’s Court of Appeals has ruled against the woman’s argument to have the sentence thrown out.



In August 2015, Toni Sue Stacey was convicted in Albemarle County Circuit Court docket for possessing a risky pet. Niko, a Staffordshire terrier — a pit bull-type of doggy — experienced killed a neighbor’s cat.

The choose sentenced Stacey to 90 days in jail, but suspended all of it, with the conditions that Stacey be of superior actions, and that Niko would be euthanized. Stacey’s companion, Audrey Wells, is the dog’s co-owner.

Nonetheless, soon after years of appeals, in numerous state courts, which include the Supreme Court of Virginia, Niko remains alive at the Charlottesville Albemarle SPCA — a no-destroy shelter. A Fb group, Help you save NIKO, has voiced assist for the animal.

In the years due to the fact Stacey was originally convicted, her lawyers were being effective in arguing that “while a circuit court might get a risky dog’s disposal,” state code “grants the nearby animal management officer discretion regarding which disposal method to use — euthanasia getting only a single of the offered choices.”

Inside of the state code, “disposal” can contain a canine dwelling with a shelter or agency willing to sign-up and residence the animal.

Below her original 2015 conviction, the greatest sentence Stacey confronted for owning a unsafe doggy, a Course 2 misdemeanor, was 6 months in jail.

In her most the latest situation in the Virginia Courtroom of Appeals, Stacey argued the state no extended had the jurisdiction to get Niko be “disposed of,” considering that the greatest sentence she could have faced for her conviction had lengthy since passed.

This week, a a few-choose panel disagreed.

“Trial courts have the authority to order the euthanization of a vicious dog,” the courtroom wrote in its impression dated April 19. “But here, the trial court’s May well 21, 2021 get instructed ‘disposal’ rather than euthanization of Niko.”

Choose Junius Fulton III wrote in the viewpoint that the Could 2021 order “has the effect of granting Stacey the really aid she asked for — the ‘disposal’ alternatively than the euthanasia of Niko.”

Fulton claimed Stacey’s attraction is “an impermissible collateral attack” on her 2015 conviction, and acceptance of the give to stay out of jail.

“The demo court acted in its authority pursuant to statute and Stacey obtained the aid she had asked for at the demo court stage. We obtain that Stacey is sure by her prior posture of assent to the demo court’s purchased disposal of Niko and find that the existing appeal is without having advantage,” wrote Fulton.

Contacted by WTOP about doable appeals, Stacey’s attorney Elliott Harding, of Charlottesville, remained upbeat.

“We’re in conversation with local animal handle now, and am hopeful they’ll permit him go, being aware of that euthanization isn’t necessary. Whether he can return to Toni or Audrey continues to be unseen but there’s surely an prospect for him to have another probability,” Harding mentioned.