Thousands join together to save shelter dog's life

The Austin community is fighting to save a dog on death row.

The shelter pup was ordered to be put down because it bit a two year old on the face, but Austin Pets Alive staff said the lab-mix named Neville has no history of aggression.

"Generally an easy going dog. Kind of a gentleman is how our behaviorist described him," said Lisa Maxwell with community outreach at Austin Pets Alive!

The dog showed a different side of his personality three weeks ago. When a family with a two-year-old child walked into a play area, they saw Neville and other dogs running around. 

Austin Pets Alive! staff said the family was told not to put their toddler down.

"The child wound up down on the ground running around with the dogs and, at some point, approached Neville in a way that apparently frightened Neville and he nipped at the child," Maxwell said. 

The two-year-old child wound up with 16 stitches after Neville bit his cheek. The evidence was enough for Municipal Judge Ferdinand Clervi to label the dog dangerous and sentence it to death.

"It's very sad. We would never want a child to be injured. We would not want any human to be injured, but at the same time we feel the totality of the circumstances caused Neville to do something that shouldn't cause him to be killed," said Maxwell.

The judge's ruling came down Wednesday, which means Neville is set to die by October 17.

APA staff is scrambling to get help from an attorney before then so they can save the dog's life.

"Heaven forbid we live in a world where we have to be held accountable for one mistake and can't redeem ourselves. You know, I mean we all need a second chance," said Maxwell.

Austin Pets Alive! and thousands of people around the country have signed a petition to overturn the judge's ruling. Many have even called the shelter shocked by the story and hoping to help.

"We're willing to take him to our house and let him stay there. We have acreage out in the country. We're willing to make him a member of our family," said Linda Navarre who lives in Bastrop County. 

APA staff hope the judge will make an exception and allow Neville to live somewhere outside Travis County where he will no longer be a liability. If that happens, the recently famous pup will have a list of homes to choose from.

"I think every animal deserves the right to live," said Navarre.

Judge Clervi has declined to comment while the case is still pending.

In Texas a dog can be euthanized if its first attack results in severe bodily injury.