Bite Mark Analysis May Exonerate Phineas

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The Sanders children with their boy, Phineas.  Lexi (left) was particularly affected by Mayor Gary Brown's decision to have their dog executed.
The Sanders children with their boy, Phineas. Lexi (left) was particularly affected by Mayor Gary Brown’s decision to have their dog executed.


Phineas’ innocence may yet be proven, as key evidence has seemingly cleared him of wrongdoing.

It was only in June that we brought you the story of Phineas, the yellow Lab who has been sentenced to death at the hands of Salem, Missouri mayor Gary Brown. In June 2012, a neighbor child had been playing with seven-year-old Lexi Sanders, and accidentally fell and then claimed Phineas bit her. The bite mark on the girl’s side looks suspiciously human, and there were no indents where a dog’s long canines would have sunk in.

The girl was taken to the hospital, where it was reported that Phineas bit her. They reported the bite to the town, who immediately seized and quarantined Phineas. Mayor Brown requested a behavioral evaluation of him. Veterinarian JJ Tune determined that Phineas was a healthy, non-aggressive dog. Despite this, the mayor declared him vicious and ordered him to be euthanized (isn’t that up to a judge??).

Since then, Phineas has been carted from clandestine location to location, hidden in basements from the Sanders family, and even developed pressure sores on his legs from being kept in a crate for long periods of time. The Sanders are being charged for him being “boarded.”

All the mayor has to do is vacate the order to euthanize Phineas, and this nightmare would be over. But for whatever reason, he will not.

Recently, measurements of Phineas’ bite were analyzed by dog bite experts. It had been difficult to determine the size of the bite in comparison with the dog’s teeth, because the photos were not to scale.

7.21.13 - Phineas' Bite Mark2

Experts needed a replica of the girl’s shirt to make the analysis, so the Sanders’ attorney, Joe Simon, got to work. A message was posted on the Save Phineas Facebook page asking “Do you recognize this shirt?” A fan’s niece had the same shirt, so she sent it in.

As soon as I got this shirt in the mail I knew there was no way Phineas left this bite because this is just tiny,” Simon said.

Using markings on the shirt, the size of the bite on the girl’s side was finally established. Phineas was sedated in order to get measurements of his bite, and two experts in dogs bites and aggressive behavior plotted where Phineas’ teeth would have clamped down.

A written report was prepared by Dr. Kenneth Cohrn, a dentist and dental forensics expert, concluding:

The overall size of the injury suggests a smaller dog may be responsible…based on the current information available…I must exclude Phineas as the biter.”

It’s not even close,” Cohrn said in an interview. “The dog’s dentition is so much larger than the pattern injury.”

Canine behavioral consultant James Crosby’s report stated he could “reasonably exclude Phineas, to a degree of scientific certainty, as having been the source of this bruising injury.”

Mayor Brown claims he has not seen the reports, and that he made his decision last year based on evidence present at the time.

He says if the measurement evidence is enough to convince a judge, it’s enough to convince him. He has said he would be “a little sad” to see Phineas executed, and if he is released, “I’d be tickled to death.”

Well, the evidence is in, mayor. Time to keep your word and let Phineas go. The next hearing is scheduled for July 30th.


From the Save Phineas page:


If you’d like to send emails to the city officials in Salem, MO and voice your opinion (polite and respectful please,) the following was posted on another page.

NOTE: Due to the large number of emails being generated to the Mayor as a result of a petition, to ensure your messages are not overlooked, also send your remarks to the City Clerk at [email protected] and ask that your message be forwarded to each member of the Board of Aldermen.

Board of Aldermen:
Philip Giacomelli
Ryan Whitaker
Hayden Powell, Jr
Kenneth Nash

Mayor Gary Brown, 573-729-4811, [email protected]
Letters: Mayor Gary Brown, 400 N Iron St, Salem MO 65560



0 thoughts on “Bite Mark Analysis May Exonerate Phineas”

  1. A dog bite expert was brought in and he’s still claiming it’s a dog of some sort at all? The only way that could be a dog bite is if the canines are missing.

    It doesn’t take an expert to see it’s not a dog bite. And could very well be human.

    A human bite expert needs to be brought in and each bite of every human close to this child needs to be examined. She is not likely to speak up if she’s being abused and this is a possibility if that is a human bite mark.

    The mayor isn’t letting up because his ego is more important to him than the truth.

    • At first glance the size, shape and indentations indicate it is not a dog bite. A dogs mouth is not shaped like that bite. Why were dental impressions not done immediately. That would have settled things. This mayor has issues.

      i don’t know what this mayor’s agenda is but I would certainly investigate the mayor and why he is so insistent when experts have said it isn’t the dog’s bite. i agree with the person who said his ego is getting in the way of justice. if he runs again, I would be not vote for him because of his inability to accept what experts have said.

      Was the child questioned? There is more to this story.

      In the meantime, the person responsible is getting a free ride. Who is this mayor afraid of? An investigation should taken place.

  2. How far has this gone? Local media, Cesar Millan etc? I feel so sorry for this family having one of their members imprisoned like a criminal. I wish there was more i could do – email sent however. Much love for Phineas.

    • Cesar Millan? Are you kidding me? If he were involved, he’d already have the dog on a choke hold.

      Now, Mayor, give the dog back to the family and end this circus you created.

  3. Amazing that an accused dog bite is an executable offense, but no-one seems much interested in exactly which human bit the child.

  4. Hmmmmm… sounds like a witch hunt….. in Salem….. the mayor really needs to give his head a shake! If you’re going to ask for experts, better be prepared to hear their answers! I’d take a look a the kids around this child-kids probably bite more often than dogs do! Mayor Brown, do the right thing and let this poor dog go back to his family, and while you’re at it, apologize to everyone you’ve snubbed!

  5. This dickhole mayor not only needs to let Phineas go, but he needs to pay for any rehabilitation it may take to get this dog back to his former self.

  6. The child was playing with the child that the parents own the dog – the child is 7 years old – is she not old enough to say if her dog bit this friend?

    Something is missing. Sounds like these people are trying to get some easy cash.


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