A dog on death row for the past two years after an alleged rabbit killing and dog-mauling has been granted a stay of execution by a High Court judge.
A scrap between the owner of Jimbo, an American Staffordshire terrier which has been in custody since late 2010, and the South Waikato District Council has so far cost ratepayers more than $70,000 in court costs and providing for the dog's upkeep.
Jimbo was impounded after he allegedly tore into a hutch and mauled a young girl's rabbits in Tokoroa in 2010, killing one of them.
While incarcerated, Jimbo is then alleged to have savaged a pitbull cross called Justice.
His owner, Carolyn King, was convicted under the Dog Control Act over both incidents and Jimbo was sentenced to death. But Mrs King's convictions were quashed - and her pet's life saved - when she appealed to the High Court and won.
"All of this is completely ridiculous and to say he is a dangerous dog is ridiculous," she said.
Mrs King, who runs a dog rescue service, paying vet bills, food and registrations until the strays can be found new homes, said Jimbo was a purebreed and champion showdog.
She lent him to a woman who wanted a dog to frighten burglarsthat was also safe around children. There the attack on the rabbits is alleged to have happened.
The South Waikato District Council said the saga had been expensive. A spokeswoman said that under the law the council could not authorise a dog to be put down without either the owner handing the animal over or the court approving it.
"This is not a dog that should be permitted back into public."
In the High Court, Mrs King's lawyer, Scott Ngapo-Lipscombe, argued Jimbo was not in her control when he allegedly attacked the rabbits. There was also an absence of fault for the attack at the pound because Mrs King could not control what happened there. Her convictions were quashed.
The High Court agreed with the District Court's finding that Jimbo represented "a high level of risk" and should be destroyed but could not issue this order because his owner was not found guilty of an offence.
Mr Ngapo-Lipscombe said that depending on the outcome of a status hearing in December, the matter could go back to the Tokoroa District Court next year.
Total daily food costs