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http://www.nj.com/centraljersey/index.ssf/2008/04/congos_owners_settle_suit_over.html

Settlement spares Congo's life
by Linda Stein/The Times
Thursday April 03, 2008, 5:04 PM
The case of Congo, the most famous dog in New Jersey, settled with a whimper instead of a bark.


CongoGuy and Elizabeth James, the Princeton Township couple whose German shepherd mauled a landscaper who came onto their property on June 5, 2007, agreed to a settlement with the Mercer County Prosecutor's Office one day before they were due in court for an appeal before Superior Court Judge Mitchel Ostrer.

Congo had faced death after he was declared a vicious dog by a Municipal Court judge last year. That ruling provoked an outcry from thousands of animal lovers and hundreds protested the dog's fate outside the municipal building.

The James family then appealed that ruling which included four of their other dogs, then six-month-old puppies, who joined in the attack. The other dogs had been labeled "potentially dangerous," which carried fines and penalties.

Under the agreement, the couple paid a fine of $50 per dog and pleaded guilty to a violation of a township ordinance, said their lawyer Robert Lytle. The James family will continue to keep the dogs behind a fence on their 10-acre property and warning signs will remain in place.
The charge of maintaining a vicious and potentially dangerous dog against Elizabeth James was dismissed.

In a written statement, Deputy First Assistant Prosecutor Doris Galuchie said,
"Our goal in this case, as it is in every case, is to do what is in the best interest of justice and community safety. In particular, our objective was to ensure that the community is protected from vicious or potentially dangerous dogs. We believe that the settlement achieves that purpose.

"In the event that we lost the appeal, the state would have no legal authority to impose any safety restrictions regarding the dogs. As the defendant is agreeing to all of the safety precautions enumerated in the Vicious and Potentially Dangerous Dog Act, we feel this resolution is the most prudent course of action."

Guy James said this result was the best outcome for his family, which prevents the possible euthanazaation of Congo, and one they had suggested all along.

"It was a good settlement for both parties," James said. "The township got their protection and we got what we wanted."

Contact Linda Stein
 

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I'm so happy for Congo!!
 

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Wooohoooo!!!! Finally some common sense prevails!!
 

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YAY!!!!!! I'm so glad Congo gets to return to his family!
 

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What wonderful news! Way to go Congo!
 

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That's very good news, indeed!

The whole ugly mess seemed to be a tragi-comedy of errors. The injured man handled himself badly throughout the debacle & could easily have appeared to be attacking Elizabeth. 'Fear' & 'defense' were his motives, but that wouldn't make him appear a whit less threatening to the dogs.
 

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