The fate of Dakota, the husky pardoned by Gov. Paul LePage, could be decided Monday by a District Court judge if the former owner, the woman who adopted the dog and the Kennebec County district attorney strike a deal that would lift permanently the euthanasia order imposed in April.
If Judge Valerie Stanfill were to sign off on the agreement at Monday’s hearing at the Capital Judicial Center in Augusta, appeals pending before the state’s highest court would be withdrawn and the question of whether the governor has the legal power to pardon a condemned dog would remain unanswered.
If not, 4-year-old Dakota would continue to live at the Humane Society of Waterville Area until the Maine Supreme Judicial Court rules on the pending appeals in the case. The dog has been at the shelter since early February, except for the few days she spent with Linda Janeski of Winslow, who adopted her in March.
Janeski would like to have Dakota live with her because she grew to love the dog as puppy when her daughter was dating the previous owner, Matthew Perry of Waterville, her attorney, Bonnie Martinolich of Portland, said Wednesday.
“We are hoping we will be able to work something out before Monday’s hearing,” Martinolich said. “Ms. Janeski is willing to have Dakota live with another family if that is what helps get Dakota saved.”
A previous deal that would have sent Dakota to live in New Hampshire at a haven for retired sled dogs was dropped after Linda Janeski, who adopted Dakota from the Waterville shelter, objected to it, District Attorney Maeghan Maloney said Wednesday. Perry agreed to let Dakota leave Maine.
Perry wants to ensure Dakota isn’t euthanized or warehoused in a shelter, his attorney, Darrick Banda of Augusta, said Thursday.
Maloney said late Thursday that although a deal had not yet been struck, she was optimistic that everyone would be able to find common ground.
“I continue to think that we are very close to a resolution,” she said. “I continue to be very hopeful and I feel confident that everyone is negotiating in good faith.”
The staff at the shelter and Janeski, who visits at least once a week, try to give Dakota an environment that feels like home — including playing fetch and tug of war with staff members, said Lisa Smith, director of the Humane Society Waterville Area.
“Our goal is to provide the animals here with the same life as they would at home, though we know that it’s not,” she said.
During her time at the shelter, Dakota has been in play groups with other dogs of all sizes and with puppies while muzzled, the director said.
“She’s always been friendly here,” Smith said. “She exhibits appropriate, inviting play behavior when she’s with other dogs. She is just all about play.”
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 Maloney. The second dog, a pug named Bruce Wayne, was bitten on the neck but not injured. Both dogs were owned by the same person, who has not been identified by authorities.
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 Waterville shelter allowed Janeski of Winslow to adopt the dog. She sought an injunction to keep Dakota from being euthanized, which was denied in April. Janeski also has appealed to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court.
Additional reporting by Michael Shepherd