DNA evidence helps free a service dog from death row
Genetic sampling increasingly being used in animal-related cases
By Karin Brulliard, WASHINGTON POST
November 9, 2016
Jeb, a 2-year-old Belgian Malinois with alert ears and a dark muzzle, was sentenced to death in September.
The Michigan judge who ordered the dog be euthanized said he had no choice. A neighbor had testified that he saw Jeb standing over the lifeless body of his Pomeranian, Vlad. And state law requires that dangerous dogs - ones that cause serious injury or death - be destroyed.
But Jeb's family did not believe he was capable of killing Vlad, said Kandie Morrison, who had given Jeb to her disabled father for use as a service animal. This was a dog whose body 80-year-old Kenneth Job relied on to hoist himself up when he fell, she said; a dog that ignored the rabbit he lived with.
"I knew in my heart from day one that he didn't do it," she said in an interview.
'A practical solution'
Armed with that confidence, Job and Morrison turned to the kind of evidence well known for exonerating human suspects and increasingly used to help animals: DNA. And last week, after a Florida lab determined samples collected from the frozen corpse of the Pomeranian did not come from Jeb, the big dog was sprung from jail.
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