BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The life of a pit bull mix deemed "dangerous" by East Baton Rouge Animal Control has been spared.
After receiving a petition from concerned citizens, a committee met on Monday to consider enhancing the dog's classification to "vicious," meaning it would be put down. A pit bull mix named Jack drew a large crowd to City Hall for another hearing to decide his fate.
A committee of three people, a veterinarian, a representative from the Capital Area Animal Welfare Society, and a police officer had already ruled Jack, who has been the subject of multiple investigations, "dangerous."
But after citizens who live near Jack signed a petition pleading with the parish to have the dog euthanized, the panel regrouped to hear their appeals. Some of them cited some of the 19 complaints filed with East Baton Rouge Animal Control.
"On June 7, 2013, Jack bit a 12-year-old in Baker," Phillip Seghers recited.
"When I got to my mailbox, the pit bull, Jack attacked me," Rose Mazerack said.
"We heard her screaming and we turned around and she is standing by her truck with her arms crossed," Heidi Sadone said.
An animal control officer who responded to one of the complaints, testified about his encounter with Jack.
"The deputy and I walked down the driveway and the dog came charging down the driveway at us," the officer said.
The parish locked Jack up at EBR Animal Control and instructed his owners, Gina Dipeitro and Bonnie Blalock, to take certain steps to get him back including getting liability insurance, putting Dangerous Dogs signs around their house, and making sure Jack wears a muzzle when he is outside.
"We want our dog back. He is our family member and we are willing to do whatever it takes to get him back," Dipietro said.
Jack was backed by more than a dozen supporters at the hearing, including veterinary clinic workers who spoke on his behalf.
"Is he high energy? Yes. Does he run and jump? Yes. But I never felt Jack was a danger," Sharon King said.
"I have never walked in that house and been scared of that dog," Penny Travers said.
"He has been handled by a lot of people in a lot of stressful situations and has never done anything in an aggressive manner or misbehave in any way," Tori Cannon said.
After three hours of testimony, the committee had rendered its decision.
"The committee has decided to uphold the dangerous dog classification," Martha Littlefield, DVM, announced.
"We're thrilled. We can't wait to get Jack back," Dipietro.
"Everybody got something to come away with. Instead of having to put an animal down perhaps the owners are going to be more proactive about keeping their dog from causing neighbors great concern," Seghers said.
9News attempted to ask Animal Control Director Hilton Cole why a hearing was not held before multiple complaints were filed against the dog but our calls were not returned.