NEW YORK CITY — A dog named Brooklyn who was sentenced to death by the city for biting a 12-year-old girl got a stay of execution shortly before he would have been put down.
Animal advocacy group the Lexus Project saved Brooklyn from the gallows on Tuesday after going to court to set him free. A Manhattan Supreme Court judge agreed to a restraining order temporarily halting the execution after the city didn't contest the reprieve.
Brooklyn, an 8-year-old mixed breed, is currently in the pen at Animal Care and Control in East Harlem. Another hearing is scheduled for April 30. If that goes well, the tail-wagger could be sprung and placed in the custody of the Lexus Project, whom the judge appointed as his guardian.
The dog has been in the slammer since February 2012, when he bit the girl, leaving a puncture wound on her calf and putting her in the hospital for several days, according to Gabriel Taussig, the chief of the city Law Department's Administrative Law division. Brooklyn's owner surrendered the dog to the city Health Department and thought it best to euthanize him.
In August an administrative judge classified Brooklyn as dangerous after the owner didn't show up to a hearing, where the girl testified about her wound and a previous bite.
Last fall, the Lexus Project stepped in to save Brooklyn, but the dogged do-gooders didn't satisfy the city's stipulations for setting him free, Taussig said. The Health Department wanted Brooklyn to live with a suitable caregiver outside city limits and have the consent of the local municipality — but the requirements weren't met, according to Taussig.
Without any resolution, the Health Department issued the kill order, which would have happened in the near future, according to the city.
With the clock ticking down, the Lexus Project filed for the restraining order, arguing that the dog wasn't dangerous and only bit the girl after feeling threatened.
"The alleged 'bite' incident occurred as a result of provocation by the person allegedly bitten, who jumped or fell on top of the dog thereby provoking the alleged bite," the group's filing said.
Richard Rosenthal, the general counsel for the Lexus Project, said the group had identified an out-of-state home for the pooch.
He said Brooklyn deserves a lot of rest after cooling his paws in the pound for more than a year.
"They need to decompress and go back to being dogs, not celebrities," said Rosenthal, whose group has successfully saved more than 100 dogs from around the country from death row in the past few years.
Taussig said the city wants to find a resolution that keeps the public safe.
"We've been cooperating with the groups seeking to rescue Brooklyn," he said. "We've advised them of the necessary steps they must take, keeping in mind the need to protect the public health. The city would like nothing more than for Brooklyn to get a home if it can be done safely."