“It was in a condo complex, and they’d cornered her to try and contain her, and she got scared,” Lagnese said. “People that she didn’t know were surrounding her, and she had nowhere to go.”
No one was seriously hurt, Lagnese explained, but the neighbors called the police and animal control officers. Lagnese was informed that Rose needed to go back to the shelter for a 10-day hold.
“I said, ‘OK, here’s the dog,’ because I didn’t realize that I could have said something else,” Lagnese said. “I handed her over, following directions, and they said, ‘Ten days.’”
But when 10 days passed, the pound didn’t release her. Instead, Lagnese was told that Rose needed to be euthanized for being a “vicious dog.”
Lagnese was shocked and upset, and she teamed up with Thom Page, an attorney at the Lexus Project who regularly helps dogs on death row. Page started working on Rose’s case on a pro bono basis, battling for Rose’s release from the pound. The case got messy and complicated, and it was eventually transferred to the federal courts.
“She’s a sweet dog, and I didn’t see why she should get killed because she nipped somebody,” Lagnese said. “I decided that I wanted to fight for her, and that’s what we did.”
Meanwhile, Rose was suffering at the shelter. She spent all day and all night locked up in her kennel without a soft bed or any toys. She also didn’t receive any medical attention, according to Page. To comfort herself, Rose would pick up her metal food bowl and hold it in her mouth.
When Lagnese and her husband tried to visit Rose, the staff only allowed them to see Rose in her kennel from behind a fence.
“All we could do was talk to her from a distance … and it was really hard on us and it was really hard on her,” Lagnese said. “She didn’t understand why we kept leaving and why I could never pet her or get close to her or give her a treat. It was horrible.”
Time passed — a lot of it. In fact, it took four and a half years before Rose was finally released from the pound.
In order to negotiate Rose’s freedom, Lagnese had to relinquish her ownership of Rose. However, Furry Friends Foster and Rescue, which is run by Lagnese’s friend, Leslie Rich, agreed to take Rose into their care. Page also arranged for Rose to be fostered by professional dog trainer Allen Szykula, in order to satisfy the courts.
“I save one dog at a time,” Page said. “That’s my philosophy.”
“This dog is very resilient,” Lagnese added. “She bounces back like no one thought that she would.”