BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) — Animal rights activists are making a push to save a black lab that could end up being euthanized. The rescue dog bit part of a 4-year-old’s ear off at a vet’s office, but some are defending the dog, saying it’s not vicious. Inside The Pet Clinic in Bradenton, a key member of the family is missing, a beloved black lab named ‘Padi.’ Vet Tech Sue Clapper said, “People look forward to seeing Padi, and the last 6 or 7 weeks that he’s not been here, we’ve had people all the time phoning, ‘How’s Padi doing?’”
‘Padi’ is a black lab owned by the clinic’s veterinarian, Dr. Paul Gartenberg.He’s now in the custody of Manatee County Animal Services. Dr. Gartenberg said, “It just doesn’t seem fair. It just doesn’t seem fair.” Last month, county officials say a 4-year-old boy was playing with ‘Padi’ at the clinic. According to a sheriff’s office report, the dog hid under a desk and the boy lunged at him. So, the dog bit off part of the boy’s left ear. The images were gruesome- showing the bloody ear with a large chunk missing.
Dr. Gartenberg said, “This dog was purely acting defensively, I can’t think of a dog that wouldn’t have reacted the way Padi did.” The law states the dog must be euthanized. An official at animal services will make a final decision next week. Manatee County spokesman Nicholas Azzara said, “Animal Services’ role is pretty clear cut and the statute clearly defines what the county’s responsibilities are.”
A groundswell of supporters has emerged. Dozens came to a recent county hearing about Padi, and hundreds have joined a Facebook group asking for his release. The dog is beloved by the hundreds of clients at the clinic. Padi was an abused dog that was rescued and brought to the clinic. It had a rusted chain around its neck that had become infused into the skin. Padi had to go through surgery to get it removed. Dr. Gartenberg searched for a new home for the animal, but fell in love with the dog, so he kept it for his own. Now he’s fighting to keep his dog alive.
“I’m hoping that he decides that there is sufficient provocation to let the dog go,” said Gartenberg. Extensive surgeries will be needed to fix the little boy’s ear. The family has no opinion on the dog’s fate; they’re focused on the child. The family is exploring legal options. Padi’s supporters want the dog back.
Dr. Gartenberg hopes he can get Padi back by having him given a dangerous dog designation, but we won’t know what happens until next week.