Phineas the Dog: Family's Attorney Says Dog Stolen, Probably Killed

Lexi, age seven, saying goodbye to Phineas earlier this year. | Save Phineas
Phineas, the Labrador retriever who bit a seven-year-old girl last year and has been on doggy death row since, has been stolen from the shelter where he was being held. His family believes he has been killed.

Salem police chief Keith Steelman says there was no sign of forced entry at the shelter, but the attorney for the dog's family say that the condition of the building was such that it wouldn't take much to break in.

"I was never comfortable with the arrangements there, but the city was adamant he couldn't be moved anywhere else," Kirkwood-based attorney Joe Simon tells Daily RFT.

See also: Phineas the Dog: Family, Supporters Fight to Stop Salem Officials From Putting Pet to Sleep

As for why somebody would steal the dog, Simon says, there have been threats made to the dog's life, but he would not elaborate. Those threats, however, are the reason why he and the family believe Phineas is dead.

Phineas' story began June 22, 2012, at the home of Patrick and Amber Sanders in Salem. Their daughter, Lexi, had the neighbor's daughter over to play. At some point, Phineas bit (or "mouthed," depending on the account) Lexi's playmate.

The bite did not cause puncture wounds or bleeding, but it did leave a mark, and the girl was taken to a hospital to check it out. According to protocol, hospital employees reported the dog bite to police.

Phineas was picked up by police, accused of two other bites (which were disputed by the family and discredited in court) and deemed "vicious" by city officials. The mayor ordered the dog euthanized, but the family fought back, and a judge issued a temporary restraining order that mandated the city could not kill or sell the dog, but had to take care of him until things are settled.

Meanwhile, the story inspired people from around the world to help save Phineas, leading to a petition with more than 75,000 signatures, a Facebook page with more than 176,000 likes, and even the support of Blues captain David Backes, who along with his wife, Kelly, offered to personally fly Phineas to a no-kill shelter.

See also: Blues Captain David Backes Fights to Save Phineas the Dog, Salem Pet on Death Row

The long and arduous ordeal has left the family "angry and upset," according to Simon.

"They've fought a long battle," he says. "At the end of the day, they just wanted the dog to be let go. They've already said the dog didn't need to come home, and they'd allow the dog to go out of state, and that's all they wanted. And now the dog's gone and probably dead."

We'll update as soon as we learn more.

Follow Ray Downs on Twitter at @RayDowns. E-mail the author at

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The Judge is a moron.  He ordered the dog to be taken care of, but the family had to pay for that care.  Now after putting them through this BS for a year, their beloved Phineas is probably dead, all because the mayor didn't have the nads to admit he was wrong.  Seriously, what is wrong with people??


I really believe Phineas was kidnapped by someone that wanted to get him out of that ridiculous detainment. I know lots of animal rights people who've mentioned the idea over social networking sites. Whoever stole him is probably giving him lots of treats and hugs and will most likely contact the family to return him once everything cools down.


Karma will come to who ever stole him, paybacks a bitch! 

whateveryousay topcommenter

The family's lawyer will sue on their behalf, I hope, for the death.  The judge ordered for it to be cared for until resolution.  

The city was negligent in the care and security of Phineas.  

Carolyn Burke
Carolyn Burke

Hey. There was a Facebook Page to free the dog. Looks like they got what they wanted. He may be in a great place by some renegade.


The grampa of the girl who was allegedlly bitten has threatened to kill the dog. Also some of his friends. The mayor has said he wishes this all "would just go away" A hearing was due soon and soepenas went out last week. You do the mathas to who is suspect.

Kimberly Schaefer
Kimberly Schaefer

ALLEGEDLY bit....if you've seen the pics of the "dog bite" you can plainly see it is not from this dog. Probably not from a dog at all. Like I posted earlier, looks as though a human was doing the biting.

Lisa Scaturro Hagnauer
Lisa Scaturro Hagnauer

What kind of a MONSTER would hurt this poor dog!!! PRAYING FOR THE FAMILY & Phineas's safe return!!!


Please change the wording to ALLEGEDLY bit.....there is no proof that Phineas bit any child.


@KCitian I wish your idea was true, but it is highly unlikely.  The mayor had been thoroughly discredited but did not want to back down.  Phineas was only days away from release.  Phineas had a court hearing with a new judge--one who was not part of the "old boy" network of that county--and it looked extremely likely that Phineas would be released.  The mayor and his cronies could not have stood the embarrassment of having all their lies refuted by a court decision.

If it were possible to scour the woods, dumpsters, and lakes around Salem could be scoured, as well as the properties of trash bins of the people who wanted Phineas killed, I think Phineas's body would be found.

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