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Owner charged in dog’s death row escape

A California pit bull was sprung from death row by the couple who owns him, police say, and he’s apparently being driven across the country in an attempt to elude euthanasia.

Police say an Alameda couple concocted a scheme to free their pit bull, Max, from the Alameda Animal Shelter, which, because he’d been deemed a dangerous dog, was planning to euthanize him Wednesday.

Authorities arrested one of the suspects, Richard Cochran, 57. Cochran admitted to formulating a plan to steal the three-year-old dog from the shelter with Melissa Perry, 38, his girlfriend of 17 years, and two other people whose identities haven’t been confirmed, police said.

He denied playing any other role in stealing the dog, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Perry, meanwhile, called the Chronicle on Thursday evening, saying Max was with her and that a friend was driving them across the country. “I’m almost to Kentucky,” she said.

Perry told the newspaper that, while neither she nor Cochran had anything to do with the break-in, she had told friends she wished someone would “break him out.”

“Max doesn’t deserve to be euthanized. Considering the circumstances, I think he deserves a chance.”

Police say the dog is dangerous. “If anyone comes into contact with the dog and this woman, I really want to stress that they should take caution,” said police Sgt. Jill Ottaviano. “This is a very dangerous animal. It is very protective of this woman.”

Max had bitten two people. While being examined at an animal hospital in Oakland, he bit a veterinary technician. The dog was ordered to be quarantined at his home in an Alameda motel after that, but during the quarantine he bit a friend of the couple.

The animal shelter was ready to euthanize Max on Tuesday, after a court order was issued. The court commissioner agreed that the dog would be kept alive one more day to allow Cochran and Perry to say goodbye.

When shelter staff arrived for work Wednesday morning they discovered someone had used bolt cutters to cut through a cyclone fence and break the lock on the kennel where Max had been staying.

(Photo: Alameda Police Department)


Comment from Anonymous
Time May 14, 2010 at 1:43 pm

Any dog that bites 4 people is a dangerous dog. What happens when he mauls some little kid?

Comment from Renee
Time May 14, 2010 at 5:29 pm

Not much in the way of details to go on as far as the bites go, but good on the rescuers. Shame on anyone for turning them in or giving up their names. We need more civil disobedience in this country. Bet there would never have been a death sentence if he’d been a Lab — one of the higher bite incident breeds, statistically.

Comment from Jeanne
Time May 15, 2010 at 8:18 am

The dog bit two people and one was a vet tech. I am not sure of the severity of the bites. But I imagine that vet techs get bitten alot and those bites get reported less frequently. I know that I wouldn’t take my dogs to a vet service if I knew that they were reporting animal bites. I also imagine that the quarantine would have heightened the emotional atmosphere that the dog was living in. Good luck to the couple and their dog. I hope that they succeed.

Comment from Sharon Bice
Time May 15, 2010 at 11:01 am

This is sad — I agree, what kind of bites were they? My chihuahuas and rescue/fosters would never make the news but they have bitten. I feel sorry for this couple.