Four-Legged “Felon” Escapes Death Row

A pit bull who was scheduled to die on doggy death row by sundown Wednesday because of two biting incidents earlier this year (one on...


Max, who is unarmed but considered dangerous  (Photo: Alameda Police Department)

A pit bull who was scheduled to die on doggy death row by sundown Wednesday because of two biting incidents earlier this year (one on a vet tech’s lips — sound familiar, Spork?) was granted a reprieve around sunrise that very morning — by someone who cut into his cyclone-fence kennel with prison-break tools (bolt cutters).

Max, a 70-pound, 3-year-old pit bull, had bitten the vet tech in January, and two months later bit a friend of his owners. (For details on the biting incidents, see this article in the San Francisco Chronicle.) The dog was judged too dangerous to live, but his owners, Melissa Perry, 38, and husband, Richard Cochran, 57, appealed.

The Chronicle article says Perry had explained in court papers that Max was a “great, loyal, loving companion” who is “full of love for people.”

She added, “I, as Max’s owner, will take any means necessary to prevent Max from being put to sleep.”

On Tuesday, Max’s owners lost the appeal. Max was scheduled to die by sundown Wednesday.

Wednesday morning, Max was gone.

Reporters were unable to locate his owners at the Alameda, Calif., motel unit they call home. The Chronicle reports that the motel managers had not seen them or their dog.

This just in: We at Dogster World Headquarters just got word that Cochran, one of Max’s owners, has been arrested. The dog and Cochran’s wife are still on the loose.

How will this turn out? Can Perry find a hiding place for this pittie and come back and face the music without him? Will they both be found and brought to justice — one more final than the other?

It’s easy to condemn this couple’s actions. But it does make you think. Sure Cochran and Perry have a dog who has done some pretty bad damage. But they truly love Max, just as you and I love our dogs, and they couldn’t bear to see him die. And so one or both of them tried to save him the only way they could after they failed in the eyes of the law.

What would you have done in this situation? I doubt we have many prison-breaking Dogsters among our readership, but can you identify with what Max’s owners were going through? Or is it unfathomable how anyone could think of breaking the law to free a dog who is considered vicious? Let us know your thoughts. And of course, I’ll keep you posted on Max, Perry, and crew.

UPDATE: About an hour ago (around 11:30 pm Pacific time Thursday), police arrested Perry in a hotel in Reno, Nev. The news brief I saw on TV reported that Max was with her. I can find nothing on the internet about this late-breaking news just yet, but I’m sure by the time I’m back at my desk in the morning, there will be plenty. I wonder if Max will still be alive…

UPDATE 2: News Friday morning is that Max is being held at Washoe County Regional Animal Services in Nevada until an animal control officer from Alameda drives up Monday to pick up Max for the last ride of his life. He will be euthanized upon his arrival back in Alameda. You can read more about the arrest, and all the methods used to track the couple. Home Depot surveillance cameras spotted Cochran buying bolt cutters; cell phone records showed Perry’s location in Reno. Big brother was certainly watching them.

The Mercury News has more details of the arrests, and features a news video about the case with an interesting interview with the second bite victim, who doesn’t really blame Max, and who says Max is like the couple’s “son.” (The video is from last night, before the latest updates, but worth watching toward the end to see the bite-ee discuss his injury and Max.)

Final Update, May 17: Max has been euthanized. Click here for the final story…

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