BECKLEY – A circuit judge has granted a stay in the death sentence for a four-year-old whippet mix that bit two children over several months time.

Jasper had his case considered by the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals and investigated by Gov. Jim Justice and had been awaiting euthanization since 2015, when a magistrate court ruled that he should be euthanized due to biting a 4-year-old and an 8-year-old several times.

The dog has been held at a shelter since the ruling, where staff and volunteers have attempted to find a way to get Jasper transferred to a rescue facility where he would not be around children.

Justice led an investigation into the issue, looking into the legal proceedings and West Virginia law and released a statement about the issue last week

“The Governor’s office has exhaustively looked into the legal proceedings related to Jasper the dog in Raleigh County, and the law of West Virginia is clear: it is not possible for Governor Justice to intervene,” it read. “The Governor recognizes that it is a painful situation for the families, the children, the dog, and the judges involved. No one loves animals more than Governor Justice.”

In its Jan. 6 memorandum decision, the state Supreme Court stated that it also could not help Jasper and that it had to abide by the law.

The lower court had ruled that the Raleigh County Humane Society had no standing in the case because it is “merely the physical custodian of the dog” and not Jasper’s owner.

“We thus decline to address petitioner’s sole assignment of error because it was not properly developed on appeal,” the justices wrote.

In his order staying Jasper’s death, Circuit Judge H.L. Kirkpatrick stated that in the 2.5 years that Jasper had been in the care of the humane society, he had exhibited no aggressive behavior toward either staff or visitors and that his fate would be determined at a hearing at a later date.

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