With the stroke of a pen, the owner of a dog on death row agreed Friday to an emergency reprieve that will let the horse-chasing pooch scamper to his heart's content at a Utah animal sanctuary.
"I have to call it a victory," said 22-year-old Sean Roach, who raised the collie-malamute mix named Nadas from a pup. "I want his life to be spared. That's all I've asked for for a year and a half."Nadas' plight has captured attention across the West as a clash between dog-loving urbanites and rural livestock owners.
The dog was seized from outside Roach's home in 1996 after a neighbor's 13-year-old daughter complained that Nadas was chasing her horse.
Under a state law intended to protect livestock, county commissioners sentenced the dog to die. However, they agreed to hold off killing the dog while Roach appealed. The Oregon Supreme Court refused to review the case, and the governor declined to intervene.
Faced with a public outcry over Nadas' impending execution, Jackson County enacted a special ordinance Thursday that allowed them to spare the dog's life, on condition that Roach agree not to sue the county, send his dog to a sanctuary out of state, have him neutered, and never see him again.
"I'd love to be able to say, `Goodbye, I hope you have a good life,' to him personally," Roach said. "But as long as I get the collar he had on when they took him, as long as I get pictures or a videotape after he's at the facility, I feel a lot better about it."
Nadas will likely fly sometime next week to Las Vegas, where staff from the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah, will pick him up.
Jackson County Administrator Burke Raymond said the schedule had not been worked out yet. Roach, who has already paid more than $4,000 to feed and board the dog, will be required to pay the air freight as well.
Since Nadas hasn't seen Roach in more than a year, it is best that he not see him now, said Raphael de Peyer, spokesman for the sanc-tuary.
"It's very upsetting to the animal," de Peyer said. "They do go through a lot of the same emotions that we do. They go through separation anxiety."
At the sanctuary, Nadas will be put in a 30-by-40 run by himself until his health and temperament are evaluated, de Peyer said. Then he will be put in a larger run with a half dozen other dogs.
"He'll have a great old time," de Peyer said.
Last week intruders broke into the county pound, apparently in a bid to free Nadas, who had been moved to a secret location after authorities intercepted Internet traffic indicating animal rights advocates meant to free him.
Public outcry peaked this week after the tabloid television program "Hard Copy" profiled the case. The county was deluged with letters and had so many phone calls seeking to free the dog that it had to set up a special switch-board.
Jackson County reported 182 cases last year where people complained that dogs killed, injured or chased livestock. The county reviewed 118 of those cases involving 143 dogs and killed 49 of them. Livestock owners shot 15 dogs. In 11 cases, the livestock owner and dog owner worked things out.