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Prison Pooch Released Under Governor’s Order

February 11, 1994

HACKENSACK, N.J. (AP) _ The 110-pound Akita who spent three years on death row is a free dog today.

An order from New Jersey Gov. Christie Whitman spared Taro’s life but exiled him forever from the state.

The dog had been sentenced to death under the state’s vicious dog law for injuring the owners’ 10-year-old niece. Taro was sprung Thursday night from his pen at the Bergen County sheriff’s office in Hackensack and taken to a new home across the Hudson River in Westchester County, north of New York City.

New Jersey officials would not identify the dog’s new owner, who has promised the former owners, Lonnie and Sandy Lehrer, unlimited visitation rights.

The dog’s release followed a three-year, $100,000 legal battle between the Lehrers and the New Jersey borough of Haworth, where they live.

Haworth officials claimed the dog bit the girl’s lip. The Lehrers insisted the girl had provoked Taro, who only scratched her face.

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