LANCASTER, N.Y. (WIVB) — Bandit, a helper dog ruled dangerous by a Lancaster judge after he caused serious physical injury to his owner’s neighbor, will not be euthanized following a Thursday court decision.
The 4-year-old Alaskan Malamute will still be considered a dangerous dog but will be rehabilitated rather than put down. Bandit will live in an animal sanctuary following his rehabilitation and not be returned to his owner. The dog will also be neutered and microchipped.
“I believe that this four year old dog can be retrained. I just have no assurance or confidence that it can be trained or handled by Mr. Gilley,” Judge David Stabler said before reading his ruling. “Often times it’s been said the personality of the owner can be found in the dog, or found in the animal. When you were under stress, you acted poorly. When Bandit was under stress, he acted poorly.”
In addition, the dog’s owner, Joshua Gilley, will pay $1,000 to the Town of Lancaster as well as repay the medical bills of the victim, Jillian Durkin. The fine will be reduced if he pays for any medical expenses.
The Durkin Family was not in court Thursday afternoon, but their attorney, town prosecutor Thomas Fowler, said he believes this is the best decision for the neighborhood and the dog.
“At least that neighborhood is safer for the removal of this dog and I think this dog is going to have, perhaps, a better, more fulfilling life on his own, not cooped up,” Fowler said.
Gilley was in court Thursday for the verdict and was visibly upset inside and outside the courtroom. He did not speak on camera with News 4, but his attorney, Matthew Albert, says they plan to appeal and that Gilley’s neighbors are painting him in a bad light.
“They’re making the dog out to be a werewolf. They’re making Josh out to be this really bad guy, but we don’t believe that’s the case. We believe Josh has the capability to be an excellent dog owner, but he is not being given that opportunity and that’s a shame,” Albert said.
Albert hopes for the time being, the dog can go through some training, since he has been in a Lancaster Dog Control’s kennel for weeks, and live at his sanctuary “Against All Oddz” in Darien Center.’for weeks, and live at his sanctuary “Against All Oddz” in Darien Center.
The decision comes after a nearly six-hour court hearing last Thursday, in which several witnesses were called to the stand, including Durkin and Gilley.
During her testimony, Durkin said that while trying to move Bandit away from her son and another child, the dog bit her and held on. Durkin’s husband testified that he had also been bitten by Bandit.
Gilley, who took the witness stand last, testified that he suffered a traumatic brain injury and that the dog has helped him get back to normal. Gilley said he suffers from seizures and Bandit is able to detect them and help. He also testified that he has never been bitten by Bandit before nor has he used him as a weapon.
Gilley’s attorney, Matthew Albert, said that they plan to appeal the decision, which the defense has 30 days to do.
Tara Lynch is a Buffalo native and Emmy nominated reporter who joined the News 4 team in 2022. She previously worked at WETM in Elmira, N.Y., a sister station of News 4. You can follow Tara on Facebook and Twitter and find more of her work here.