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Judge reverses euthanization order for 3 dogs accused of killing goats and cat

Posted at 9:57 PM, Apr 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-17 23:53:03-04

IONIA, Mich. -- The decision to euthanize three dogs who were accused of killing a farmer's goats and cat was reversed by a judge late Monday night.

Two of the dogs currently being held in in the Ionia County Animal Shelter can be released as early as Tuesday morning. The third dog, named Major, disappeared in September 2016 and hasn't been found.

In early July, Byron and Susan Vamvakias were watching Major, a German shepherd, along with their son-in-law’s two pit pull mixes Mario and Luigi. The pits were comfort animals for the son-in-law after the Purple Heart recipient conducted four tours overseas.

While the dogs were in the Vamvakias' care, the gate got loose, and the dogs escaped.

“They just had to push the corner of the panel out, and they were out,” Susan told FOX 17 last August. “Everyone was searching, and we were searching all day.”

The following evening the dogs were found in the farmer's pen near the dead animals. At the time, the couple said there was no way the dogs were responsible.

“There was no blood - not a trace of blood on any one of those dogs,” said Byron during a previous interview.  “Those goats were completely bloated, covered in flies, and it had been obvious that they had been dead for quite some time.”

Even though they asserted the dogs couldn’t have done it, the Vamvakias signed citations and believed the incident was over.

However, that led to nearly a year of legal battles.

The dogs were originally ordered to be euthanized, but the owners were granted a new trial to present evidence which they say exonerates the animals.

Several witnesses and experts took the stand during the hours-long hearing.

The boarding costs for their dogs exceeded $7,000 in January. The judge says a decision on who will pay for it will come later.