A Staffordshire terrier that mauled its owner and her son to death in Germany might not be put down after a public outcry.
The decision to euthanise Chico, who a social worker claimed was trained “to be a fighting machine”, could be overturned after authorities admitted failing to remove the animal from its owner’s care.
Firefighters captured the dog after breaking into a flat near the city of Hanover last Tuesday.
The bodies of a woman named only as Lezime K, 52, and her son Liridon, 27, were also found.
A post-mortem examination concluded they had bled to death after being mauled by Chico.
More than 250,000 people have signed a petition titled “Let Chico live”, which calls for a decision to put him down to be reversed.
Udo Moller, a spokesman for the city, said authorities had recognised that the family were overwhelmed by the dog, but had not removed the animal from their care.
He said: “An expert appraisal, had it been carried out, would have led to the owner being banned from keeping this animal.”
Mr Moller added that investigations are under way as to whether Chico can be placed in a facility for dogs with learning difficulties.
He continued: “We are looking into whether such a facility would be able to ensure the dog was no longer a danger for the public.”
Mrs K bought Chico eight years ago after her ex-husband, who attacked her with an axe in 2005, was released early from prison, the Guardian reports.
The injuries she suffered confined her to a wheelchair.
The mother-of-four is reported to have told neighbours that she kept Chico in a cage out of fear for her and her children’s lives.
A social worker arranged for Mrs K’s son to take the dog to a trainer in 2011 after recognising the family could not cope with Chico’s “permanent aggression”.
The social worker is reported to have stated she was convinced the dog “had been trained to be a fighting machine”.
At the time, a veterinary inspection officer was due to rule on whether Chico should be allowed to stay with the family.
Mrs K reportedly failed to present the animal to the authorities, who in turn never followed it up.
Campaigners fighting for Chico not to be put down are now awaiting a decision from Hanover’s authorities.
Scores of people are reported to have demonstrated outside the city’s veterinary inspection office.
The dog home Tierheim Hannover, where Chico is being kept, is said to have received hundreds of requests from people willing to give him a home.
Corina Ludwig, who signed the petition, wrote: “Chico deserves a second chance with someone who is experienced with dogs.
“Please help him to be able to finally enjoy a loving life, which is appropriate for his species.”