by Jeanne Hambleton © 2008 – NFA Leader Against Pain-Advocate


Good news for dog lovers – Congo the German Shepherd dog whose life has hung in the balance since last June, is free and his death sentence has been lifted.


Congo had been labelled a vicious dog after he allegedly mauled a landscape gardener who it is said attacked the dog’s mistress and his puppies.


According to an article by Linda Stein in The Times and the Central Jersey News on-line, freedom from the death penalty followed the decision by his owners on April 3, the day before the appeal against the vicious dog hearing, to make a settlement with the Mercer County Office Prosecutor. It is reported they paid a $50 fine for each of their dogs that had been described as ‘potentially dangerous’.


The newspaper report states Robert Lytle, the lawyer acting for Guy and Elizabeth James, Congo’s owners, said they pleaded guilty to a violation of the town ordinance. However the dogs will remain ‘in custody’ in their 10 acre garden behind a fence with warning signs about the dogs. The case against Elizabeth James of owning a vicious and potentially dangerous dog – Congo – was dismissed.


The news report quotes Deputy First Assistant Prosecutor Doris Galuchie as saying the goal was to act in the best interest of justice and community safety. The objective was to make sure that the community was protected from vicious or potentially dangerous dogs. She felt the settlement achieved the objective.

While it has been a very worrying nine months for the family, Guy James agreed it was a good outcome. Congo lives and the town has its protection.


While Congo’s was on death row hundreds of activists fought to save his life while on line thousands were encouraged to sign petitions.


In fact we had one comment from someone called Melissa Sweet who said, “You people are crazy – it’s a damn dog! Not a human! Go protest something important!


 Linda Stein’s  report also provoked around 30 comments with a number of these opposed to all the hue and cry this case has caused.


Wdbge said, ” The dog should be exterminated. The owners heavily fined and should carry a criminal conviction on both of their records. The owners’ estate should be sued for gross negligence resulting in permanent injuries to a third party. I hate to say it, but those dumb enough to defend this dog and family should have what happened to the victim happen to their family under similar circumstances (entering someone’s property to do their job). Then I want to see if they still say, “The dog was only defending his owners”.


Jimmybutts replied, ” Wdbge you must be kidding! The dog bit an illegal who did not speak enough English to  say “nice doggie, sit”. These American dogs don’t understand Spanish. I’m surprised the libs didn’t require the dogs take Spanish lessons as part of the settlement.”


Penguingnome said, “I think it was a fair decision. People like wdbge do not understand, dogs are loyal and they feel if there owner is in danger they will protect their owner. Because it was a German Shepherd it got a bad rap.”


My grateful thanks to Anne Soden, an animal activist who lives in the same town as Congo and the James family. She has kept us in touch with developments and up to date news. Thanks Anne.


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