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Governor Exiles Dog Sentenced to Die

January 29, 1994

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) _ A dog sentenced to die after it injured a child won a reprieve Friday from Gov. Christie Whitman, but can never return to New Jersey.

Whitman decreed that Taro, a 110-pound Akita, be exiled from the state and get new owners.

The dog’s owners, Lonnie and Sandy Lehrer of Haworth, have 30 days to agree to the terms.

″I am delighted that we have saved Taro’s life,″ Lonnie Lehrer said in a statement released by the Animal Rights Law Center of the Rutgers Law School.

Taro has been on death row at the Bergen County Jail since February 1991. The borough of Haworth ordered him destroyed after he injured 10-year-old Brie Halfond on Christmas Day 1990.

Borough officials said the dog bit the girl’s lip, but the Lehrers said the child provoked the dog and was scratched. The girl is the Lehrer’s niece.

Taro had been declared ″potentially dangerous″ before the Christmas Day incident for killing a neighbor’s dog and attacking two other animals.

Whitman’s order came two days after the state Supreme Court decided it would not hear an appeal brought by Taro’s owners.

″It’s time to put this behind us and move on,″ Whitman told reporters.

″There’s been too much money and time and effort spent on this dog,″ the governor has said.

The dog’s internment at the Bergen County Jail since February 1991 has cost about $18 a day. The Lehrers have spent $30,000 fighting the death sentence, while the borough has spent $60,000.

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