The dog, a two-year-old male Rottweiler, was to be euthanized by the Farmington Animal Shelter after biting six-year-old Aiden McCallister, leaving him with facial lacerations that required 28 stitches. He also will need reconstructive surgery.
After City Manager Bob Campbell learned from the Daily Times that the shelter planned to euthanize the dog, he intervened.
On Tuesday, the dog was adopted by Patti Guderian and her husband, Bob Fields, both retired and on disability.
Guderian said that while she felt terrible for what happened to McCallister, she also sympathized with Gumbo.
"My heart just ached because I think he was just frightened," during the Petco incident, she said. "He was over-stimulated, and any dog would have done the same."
Petco officials could not be reached for comment Thursday.
The couple has three other dogs at home. They say the adoption came at a good time because several older dogs they previously adopted from the shelter recently died.
"I'm from Louisiana, so we've named the dog 'Gumbo,'" said Guderian. "He's full of love and personality, and it's obvious someone spent time with him in the past, as he can do tricks such as sit and shake."
Guderian worked with Campbell and Traci Fletcher from the Four Corners Humane Society to initiate the adoption. The shelter completed a behavioral assessment on Gumbo and determined that he shows no signs of aggression. The couple signed a waiver releasing the city from any future liability pertaining to Gumbo.
Marcy Eckhardt, a consultant providing management services to the shelter, said that euthanization is not an automatic course of action in dog-bite cases.
"We evaluate each dog individually and try to determine if the dog will pose a danger to the public," said Eckhardt. "If not, then we can try to re-home the dog. It's great to see this adoption happen."
Eckhardt said Petco staff has met with city officials following the incident, but she has not heard of any changes in the procedures regarding the weekly Adopt-A-Pet event.
Campbell, however, said one development is that several shelter staff members will soon be certified in dog assessment techniques.
"Then we'll have more of a comfort zone that the dogs have been assessed before they're put in that situation," Campbell said.
Guderian said she is concerned that dogs staying in the shelter do not routinely receive rabies vaccinations. Shelter staff told the Daily Times that while dogs are vaccinated for some diseases, they are not given rabies vaccinations because there is no authorized veterinarian on staff to administer them.
As a result of the incident, however, the shelter said dogs going to adoption events will now receive rabies vaccines.
Fletcher said that while she also feels horrible for what happened, she believes Gumbo deserved a second chance.
"Despite the bad reputation of Rottweilers, I'm a firm believer that it's how an animal is raised that matters," she said. "(Guderian and Fields) care for animals, they don't have any children, and at least one of them is always at home. This is a wonderful ending to a very sad story."