The case of Dakota, a killer husky from central Maine deemed dangerous and ordered euthanized by Maine District Court over the protest of Gov. Paul LePage, may end sooner — and happier — than expected.

The state prosecutor, the victim and Dakota’s previous owner have all reached an agreement that aims to keep the public safe, but also give the 4-year-old female husky another chance at life, Kennebec District Attorney Maeghan Maloney said late Thursday. If the deal were approved, it would save Dakota’s life and avoid an ultimate decision by the Maine Supreme Judicial Court.

Maloney proposes sending Dakota to an animal rescue in New Hampshire that trains huskies to become sled dogs. The rescue has asked Maloney to not release its information.

“The reason that was seen as a good match is because of Dakota’s high energy,” Maloney said.

Dakota would not be allowed to return to Maine and couldn’t be adopted out of the rescue, she said.

“I’m convinced that this is the best outcome, because my concern is always public safety and this is an outcome that protects the public,” she said, adding that Dakota also won’t be near any small pets, so there won’t be any risks. “It gives Dakota a safe place to be with lots of exercise.”

But Dakota’s current owner, Linda Janeski, said Thursday evening that she doesn’t agree with the idea.

“We haven’t really been able to defend our dog, because she is now our dog,” said Janeski, who lives in Winslow. “We really want to bring her home. We adopted her, we paid for her, we brought her home for a week.”

Janeski adopted Dakota while she was being held at the Humane Society Waterville Area while the courts decided her fate, which caused some confusion. She has now appealed the euthanasia order to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, the highest court in the state.

Janeski and her attorney, Bonnie Martinolich, a partner at PretiFlaherty law firm in Portland, are at a “standstill” right now, she said, waiting to see where everything goes. She said they are still pursuing an appeal.

Dakota was deemed a dangerous dog after killing the neighbor’s dog, Zoe, in Waterville in May 2016. Her owner at the time, Matthew Perry, was ordered to keep her contained, but she got out a year later and attacked the neighbor’s new dog, a pug named Bruce Wayne.

Contacted by phone Thursday night, Perry, Dakota’s original owner, would not comment.

However, David J. Bobrow of Eliot, Perry’s attorney, wrote in an email Friday morning that Perry above all does not want to see Dakota euthanized. Bobrow wrote that Perry would love to see Dakota adopted by Janeski and living with her, and while Perry praised the workers at Humane Society Waterville Area, he wants Dakota to live the life she deserves outside the confines of the shelter.

Maine District Court ordered her euthanized on March 21, but Gov. Paul LePage issued a “pardon” to the dog after hearing about the case from a board member of the Humane Society Waterville Area.

Adrienne Bennett, press secretary for Gov. Paul LePage, did not immediately comment Thursday evening when informed of the proposed deal.

The controversial pardon made national headlines and raised questions about the extent of the governor’s power — it’s not clear if LePage intended the action to be symbolic or legally binding — while also highlighting the recent evolution of animal welfare law. A last-minute appeal saved Dakota the dog April 12, even after she was taken to the veterinarian’s office to be euthanized.

A number of people from around the country have since offered to adopt the dog or help the case.

Maloney was also contacted by an out-of-state rescue that told her about the sled dog rescue in New Hampshire. Maloney said she later learned that Lisa Smith, director of the Humane Society Waterville Area, was also in contact with the New Hampshire shelter, which “increases my confidence level in them.”

Maloney filed a motion in court Thursday that would allow her to file a new complaint that would give the judge greater latitude on the punishment.

While it would still be a dangerous dog complaint, Maloney said she would cite a “less serious” section that would give the court more options in its decision.

The court can reject Maloney’s request, she said. If it’s accepted, another court hearing will be scheduled.

 

Madeline St. Amour — 861-9239

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Twitter: @madelinestamour