Roxy must leave state


Staff Writer

IRON MOUNTAIN – An agreement has been reached in the case of a dog ordered to be euthanized for violating the city of Iron Mountain’s vicious dog ordinance.

Roxy, a two-year-old pit bull, boxer, shepherd mix, will escape euthanasia and be allowed to go to a shelter out of state as long as the Lexus Project, which now owns Roxy, complies with a list of conditions set forth by Iron Mountain City Attorney Michael Celello.

Conditions include the following:

– Roxy must be removed from the state of Michigan within 21 days. She can neither return to the state nor to the care of her former owner, Vicki Tavonatti.

– Roxy must be placed into an animal shelter that has experience with pit bulls.

– Once in the shelter, Roxy must be evaluated to determine if she is indeed vicious.

– If Roxy is determined to be vicious, she must be euthanized.

– The Lexus Project must reimburse the city of Iron Mountain $1,000 for expenses related to the court case, pay for all costs related to Roxy’s removal from the state of Michigan, and cover all expenses related to the court appeal process.

During a hearing Tuesday in Dickinson County Circuit Court, all parties involved agreed to the conditions. Judge Mary B. Barglind indicated that she would sign an order to that effect as soon as the attorneys could draft one.

“I find it is in the best interest of all parties,” said Judge Barglind. “It’s the best resolution of this matter.”

Parties involved included Celello for the city of Iron Mountain, attorney Deborah Cummings-Curran for Roxy’s former owner Vicki Tavonatti, and attorney Michelle Radloff for the Lexus Project.

The Lexus Project is a non-profit group that arranges for pro bono attorneys to represent dogs that are “unjustly on death row,” and for placement of the dogs if they are set free.

At a December court hearing on the case, Radloff said that a sanctuary in Texas had offered to take Roxy. Radloff appeared at the Tuesday court hearing via telephone, and did not indicate where she planned to have Roxy taken.

Roxy has been housed at the Almost Home Animal Shelter in Quinnesec since she violated the vicious dog ordinance on July 12 by biting a woman.

According to the police report, Roxy bit a woman who was walking in the alley near the 300 block of West Ludington Street. The woman went to Dickinson County Memorial Hospital’s emergency department for treatment of the bite wound.

Police officers who responded to the incident reported that Roxy was acting aggressively toward them, and that the leash she was on allowed her to roam well into the alleyway.

At the time, the city of Iron Mountain’s vicious dog ordinance dictated that dogs like Roxy that bite without provocation must be put down. Dickinson County District Court Judge Christopher Ninomiya followed the ordinance and ordered that Roxy be euthanized.

Since Roxy was pregnant, her euthanasia was delayed until early October.

In the meantime, Roxy’s case attracted numerous supporters through online petitions and social media websites. The case also prompted the Iron Mountain City Council to amend the vicious dog ordinance to allow for more discretion.

At least three other dogs besides Roxy were found to be in violation of the ordinance before it was changed.

Roxy’s original district court case was appealed to the circuit court level, then remanded back down to the district court level, then appealed to the circuit court level for Tuesday’s hearing.

Nikki Younk’s e-mail address is