Gov. Paul LePage is once again weighing in on behalf of Dakota, the husky condemned to death for attacking two dogs in less than a year.
LePage plans to file a friend of the court brief, defending his authority to pardon the 4-year-old husky, according to a letter provided by the district attorney prosecuting the case. In the letter, filed Monday, LePage asked Attorney General Janet Mills for permission to hire outside counsel to represent him in the pending litigation.
“As you know, the ancient power of executive clemency is very broad and is a power that the people of the state of Maine have vested in the chief executive,” LePage said in the letter, according to the Sentinel. “With this in mind, I strongly believe it is my constitutional duty and obligation to defend this important power in court.”
Portland attorney Catherine Connors has agreed to represent him without charging the state legal fees, according to LePage’s letter.
Kennebec County District Attorney Maeghan Maloney has argued that the governor did not have the authority to pardon Dakota, since the dog was never convicted of a crime.
A hearing to determine whether the euthanasia order will be lifted and allow Dakota to live out her life at an animal rescue sanctuary in New Hampshire is set to be held July 24 in Augusta District Court.
Dakota was determined to be a dangerous dog in March after she attacked two smaller dogs in less than a year. The first dog, a 12-pound shih tzu terrier name Zoe, was attacked and killed in May 2016, according to the Kennebec County district attorney’s office. The second dog, a pug named Bruce Wayne, was bitten on the neck, but not harmed. Both dogs were owned by the same person, who has asked not to be identified.
Matthew Perry of Waterville, who owned the dog during the attacks, agreed on April 11 in Waterville District Court that Dakota should be euthanized and agreed to pay to have the procedure done. The next day, he filed an appeal to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, triggering a stay of the euthanasia order.
The legal matter was complicated when the Humane Society Waterville Area, where Dakota was held while her fate was being decided, allowed Linda Janeski of Winslow to adopt the dog. She filed an injunction to keep the dog from being euthanized, which was denied in April. Janeski also has appealed to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court.
Oral arguments in the case have not been set.
Maloney said Monday that if she can reach a mutual agreement with Perry and Janeski, the case might never be heard by the state’s high court.
“I am hopeful we are going to be able to come to an agreement that all parties can agree to,” she said. “I feel good about the negotiations.”
Maloney did not outline what the details of the proposed agreement.
It was unclear Monday afternoon whether LePage was seeking to intervene in the District Court case, in the appeal or in both cases.
Efforts to reach defense attorneys in the case and the governor’s office were unsuccessful Monday afternoon.
Dakota continues to reside at the Humane Society Waterville Area, an employee said Monday.