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Dog in mauling case gets its own attorney

The Constitution guarantees a right to counsel in a court of law but does that right extend to dogs? A judge in Effington County, Georgia has appointed an attorney for a pit bull named Kno, who is accused of attacking and severely injuring a 5 year-old boy this last summer. Judge William Woodrum says he made the appointment "in the interests of justice." The lawyer will also represent the dog's owner, without charge. The county attorney says the dog doesn't need a lawyer but the judge stands by his decision.

Kno faces euthanasia after being declared a dangerous dog by a local magistrate. His owners took him to the animal shelter and surrendered ownership the day of the attack. The legal maneuvering began when one of the dog's former owners got a letter from the sheriff stating that the dangerous dog designation could be challenged in court. There was no mention of putting the animal down. Normally the county needs court permission to euthanize a dangerous dog and they will get a hearing, but with a lawyer for the dog present. Exactly what arguments the lawyer will make on the dog's behalf haven't been revealed.

The five year-old was playing with a friend inside a neighbor's house when the dog, which was also inside, attacked. Before the owner could get the pit bull outside, the dog tore up the boy's face, causing partial facial paralysis. He's already had two surgeries and will probably have more. A spokesman for the sheriff says the victim is back at school and recovering. The dog is in isolation at the county animal shelter. The shelter director says dog owners and parents need to be more careful when children are playing near dogs they don't know.

Source: Savannah Morning News, "Attorney appointed for dog that attacked child," DeAnn Komanecky, Oct. 12, 2012

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