Gov. Paul LePage said Tuesday he plans to issue a second pardon for Dakota the dog, even after a court settlement abandoned a death sentence for the animal.

Speaking on WVOM-FM’s morning radio show, LePage was responding to the hosts’ mention of Dakota’s settlement reached in court Monday, but that it still wasn’t clear whether the governor has the legal authority to pardon animals. That’s when LePage, who issued a “pardon” for Dakota on March 30, said he would file a second pardon to press the issue.

“I do believe the judge just ignored the pardon, and I think that was an error in her judgment,” LePage said on the radio, apparently referring to Judge Valerie Stanfill, who approved the settlement.

LePage also suggested that he disagreed with the settlement because “they’re penalizing the dog and they should have penalized the owner,” but he did think that “Dakota living is the most important thing.”

He later seemed to backtrack somewhat on filing a second pardon, saying he was “looking into it.”

“There’s a point of law here I feel is being ignored,” LePage said.

Law experts have said that the governor’s unusual action of issuing a pardon for Dakota reflected evolving precedence under which animals are treated less like property and more like people.

Monday’s settlement seemed to bring to a close a 14-month saga that started when Dakota killed another dog in Waterville. Then in February this year, Dakota escaped from home again and seriously injured another dog owned by the same family. The case drew widespread attention following LePage’s involvement and was appealed to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, which probably will not take up the case now that a settlement has been reached.

The deal grants Dakota, a 5-year-old female husky, a full reprieve from a euthanasia order stemming from the attacks and being declared a “dangerous dog.” Dakota will live at least initially at a veterinary hospital with a boarding kennel and be trained by a canine behavior expert so the animal can be adopted. The neighbor whose dogs were attacked was in agreement with the settlement but wanted Dakota kept out of Waterville permanently.

Despite LePage’s comment Tuesday suggesting Dakota’s owner wasn’t penalized, Matthew Perry did admit to a civil violation as part of the settlement and was fined $250.

Catherine Connors, a Portland attorney representing LePage, filed a nine-page motion to intervene July 19 that chastises District Attorney Maeghan Maloney and the courts for ignoring the governor’s pardon. The motion ultimately was withdrawn Monday in court when the settlement was announced.

Connors argued that LePage’s pardon should have been adhered to immediately and considered legally binding, as state law grants the governor the power of pardon that “is broad, relating not just to criminal pardons, but all ‘forfeitures and penalties.'”

“… Only one person is given the power to pardon, commute, remit forfeitures and penalties and grant reprieves: the Governor,” Connors wrote. “The Governor’s unique power is broad, to be exercised in his discretion, as he sees fit. He has exercised that power to cancel the euthanasia directive in the Court’s March 29 order. The District Attorney and the Court should comply with and enforce the Governor’s constitutionally authorized cancellation.”

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