In what is hopefully the conclusion to the ongoing saga of Phineas, the Salem, Missouri dog who was accused of biting a little girl in June of 2012, we are happy to report that in addition to having his death sentence repealed, Phineas is alive and well, and was finally reunited with his family.
Amber and Pat Sanders had a brief reunion with their greatly missed yellow Lab Phineas, and according to their attorney Joe Simon, the family is unsure whether they will bring him home. Throughout the 16-month battle, numerous death threats were made against the family and their dog, and they may not wish to risk his safety by bringing him home while tension still runs high in the small midwestern town.
Phineas was accused of biting a little girl after she accidentally fell on him while playing in the Sanders’ yard with their daughter, Lexi. The girl’s mother claimed he had bitten her twice before, and based on her accusations, mayor Gary Brown made himself judge and jury and ordered the dog to be euthanized.
Judge Scott Bernstein upheld his decision, but just recently reversed the ruling after the girl’s mother recanted her story about the previous bites, and hearing expert testimony that cleared Phineas of any wrongdoing. The size of the bite on the girl’s abdomen was inconsistent with his dental impressions, and Dr. JJ Tune believed she sustained a “primate bite.” In other words, a human likely bit the girl and Phineas was made a patsy for what some are saying is a domestic abuse case (one that should be investigated now that Phineas is in the clear).
A statement was released on Friday:
“Accordingly the court finds that (1) Phineas had never bitten before and (2) Phineas is excluded as the cause of the injury to [the alleged victim] on the date in question…This court hereby, in accordance with the above, enters judgment in favor of Petitioners, orders that Phineas be returned to Petitioners, and permanently enjoins the City from euthanizing Phineas.”
Judge Scott Bernstein 10-25-13
Before the final hearing, Phineas was stolen from the Dent County Veterinary Clinic, where he was being cared for by Dr. Tune. Many believed he had been stolen by people who wished to do him harm, but it was later reported that the Sanders family had received an anonymous letter letting them know that Phineas had been taken by supporters who did not want him to be executed, and that he was at a “safe house.”
The Sanders’ visited their dog on Saturday at a neutral meeting place. They did not know who was holding him, nor did they find out at the meeting, because the person dropped Phineas off and left. The family decided to keep Phineas at the meeting location until they know he will be safe back at home.
Yesterday the Facebook page for Joseph P. Simon Law LLC shared the following post:
BREAKING NEWS: Phineas safe and sound.
Phineas was dropped off at a “safe house” today. The family and I were able to visit him.
It’s still a delicate situation so that is all we can reveal right now.
We (all of you) did it!!!
Time to celebrate! Joe