Judge gives Tenn. dog on death row a reprieve
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The life of a mutt that's been on doggy death row for more than a year has been spared by a judge following an outcry from animal lovers and the acceptance of a last-ditch proposal to keep the dog alive.
Now Prada, the 4-year-old pit bull mix that inspired thousands of strangers across the globe to sign a petition to save the dog's life, could be headed to Animal Planet fame.
The dog was declared vicious and ordered to be euthanized after escaping from her home and attacking several dogs in an upscale Nashville neighborhood in January 2011. It usually doesn't take long to carry out such an order, but Prada's owner fought a lengthy legal battle, vowing to never stop until she saved her dog.
Nicole Andree, a 35-year-old real estate agent who rescued Prada when the dog was 4-weeks-old, asked a judge to spare her beloved companion if she agreed to send the animal to the Villalobos Rescue Center in New Orleans. The rescue center is featured in Animal Planet's reality TV show "Pitt Bulls and Parolees," which puts ex-convicts and abused dogs together so both man and animal can be rehabilitated.
Andree said she didn't mind giving her dog up if it meant Prada would be spared. "I just wanted her to live."
She said her dog would be in good hands with Tia Torres, who runs the Villalobos Rescue center.
While she was relieved for her dog, Andree said the toll of endless legal battles and not knowing whether Prada was going to live or die has proven to be devastating for her own family. Andree's father died of a massive heart attack on Easter Sunday.
"The stress from everything killed my father," she said while choking back tears.
Andree has said her dog was being discriminated against because it is part pit bull.
The dog was ordered put down by three different courts after attorneys for the city of Nashville said Prada posed a public safety threat. In court documents, they expressed concerns that the city could be held liable if Prada were to attack another dog or even a human.
Afterward, Andree launched a social media campaign to save Prada, which inspired more than 11,000 people to sign a petition asking Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam to pardon Prada. But the governor, through a spokesman, said it was a local matter and he couldn't pardon a dog.
Davidson County Circuit Court Judge Joe Binkley Jr. signed the order sparing Prada after city attorneys said they would not object to the plan to transfer ownership of the dog to Torres so it could live at the rescue center.
"After investigating Villalobos and speaking with Ms. Torres, Metro officials determined that Ms. Andree's proposed order was an appropriate resolution to this case," Metro attorney Alex Dickerson said in an email. "Ms. Torres has extensive experience caring for aggressive dogs and the Villalobos Rescue Center is adequately equipped to confine such animals. Accordingly, Metro did not oppose Ms. Andree's motion and will transfer Prada to Ms. Torres within the next two weeks."
The dog must stay at the rescue center for the rest of its life, Binkley's order said.