Plea deal spares Santaquin dog the death penalty

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SANTAQUIN — The dog at the center of drawn out controversy involving a city ordinance and euthanasia will be spared the death penalty.

On Thursday, the Humane Society of Utah announced that a plea deal had been reached between dog owner Lindsy Bray and the city of Santaquin. Bray pleaded guilty to her dog running at large, not being current on the dog's rabies shots and not having a city dog tag.

In exchange, the city dropped a charge of "vicious dog," which came with a mandatory penalty of euthanasia.

"Today was the day!! Dexter is officially a free dog!!" Bray posted on the Saving Dexter Facebook page Thursday. "This isn’t quite justice yet, I will still be attending City Council in January making sure that Santaquin changes the ordinance, and dogs will be free to live and not get killed for any given reason that the city decides! We still have a little work ahead of us but Dexter is now free and Santaquin City said that I can even live in Santaquin with my dog as long as I agree to keep him on a leash and in a fenced backyard."

The controversy over Dexter, a 5-year-old Australian Shepherd, began in October 2016. Dexter got out of his fenced backyard while the family wasn't home, and according to a police report, bit a 12-year-old girl. The report noted "the bite did not break any skin" and left a small white mark.

The city filed charges against Bray in January, including a charge of Dexter being a "vicious dog," as defined under the city ordinance. She was found guilty and Dexter was ordered to be euthanized.

The Humane Society stepped in to represent Bray and filed an appeal in 4th District Court, arguing that Santaquin's vicious dog ordinance contains "vague definitions, lack of viable defenses." The case then dragged out in the courts until a plea deal was finalized Thursday.

“We’re so relieved that this nightmare is over,” Bray said. “We’ve lived in fear of losing our family member for the past year and can finally relax knowing his life is no longer in danger.”


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Pat Reavy is a longtime police and courts reporter. He joined the team in 2021, after many years of reporting at the Deseret News and KSL NewsRadio before that.


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