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March 25, 2010 / V A Nichols

Gucci Transitions

Dog burned in landmark Alabama cruelty case dies

Associated Press – March 24, 2010 8:14 PM ET


MOBILE, Ala. (AP) – A dog who was severely burned as a puppy in a case that led to tougher animal cruelty laws in Alabama has died.

Doug James rescued the dog named Gucci after it was hung by the neck, tortured and set on fire by a group of youths in 1994. James said the 16-year-old chow-husky mix had been in declining health in the past few months and was euthanized on Wednesday.

Passed in 2000, the Pet Protection Act made first-degree cruelty to a domesticated dog or cat a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Abuse and neglect of a cat or dog is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $2,000 fine.

James said Gucci turned 16 on Monday and his annual birthday party is scheduled Saturday at a local pet shop. He said the gathering will now be a memorial service.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

Dog behind the ‘Gucci Law’ dies

Daniel Giles/File
Gucci poses with owner, Doug James, who rescued the chow after he was set on fire by a group of children in Mobile in 1994. Gucci died at age 16 on Wednesday.

By Bernie Delinski
Staff Writer

Published: Thursday, March 25, 2010 at 3:30 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, March 24, 2010 at 10:26 p.m.

Gucci, the dog Florence native Doug James rescued from torture who went on to become the namesake of a state law that makes animal abuse a felony, died Wednesday.

James said he made the difficult decision to euthanize the dog, who recently turned 16.

“I had dreaded it, and put if off for two or three days,” said James, who lives in Mobile. “His kidneys were failing him.”

In the final days, Gucci reached the point he couldn’t control his kidneys and was unable to walk freely. He began losing clumps of fur.

“I finally thought, it’s just not dignified for him,” James said. “This was too much for him. He didn’t deserve to go through this.”

James caught some youths torturing the chow-husky mix one night in 1994. The youths hanged the dog by his neck and set him on fire.

Word about the cruelty spread and started a campaign for animal rights that resulted in the Pet Protection Act, better known as the “Gucci Law,” in Alabama.

The act was made official May 19, 2000 – the sixth anniversary of the attack – with Gucci present when then-Gov. Don Siegelman signed it. It makes intentional animal cruelty a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Gucci became a celebrity, making countless appearances at schools and pet organizations. He also was on “The Maury Povich Show” and “Inside Edition” and played “Sandy” in Mobile theatrical productions of “Little Orphan Annie.”

“We’d go places – this is no lie – and people would yell, ‘Hey, there’s Gucci’ and they wouldn’t have any idea who I was,” James said.

At the time of his abuse, Gucci was owned by a teenage girl who wasn’t able to care for him, so she gave him to James the night of the torture incident.

James planned to take him to a veterinarian the next day. “I said, ‘I’ll take him in the morning’, and my thought was, ‘I’ll take him if he lives through the night,’ ” he recalled.

The dog lived through the pain, never howling, and always remaining friendly toward people.

“He never complained. That’s amazing because I know it hurt,” James said.

“I called him ‘my little Marine dog,’ because he never complained. He was tough.”

Through treatments, Gucci returned to health and lived a long and happy life, his owner said.

He also left a legacy for his fellow animals in this state.

“Because of Gucci, animals do have rights in Alabama, thanks to the Gucci Law,” James said. “That’s his legacy. It’s a felony, and abusers can go to prison for it.”

A street leading to the Mobile Animal Shelter is named Gucci Lane in the dog’s honor. James said a local landscaper has plans for a memorial garden for animals’ ashes on Gucci Lane.

Gucci’s ashes will be the centerpiece, he said.

On Wednesday, James thought about one of his favorite books, “Marley and Me.” The book recounts the life of the pet whom Marley’s owner affectionately called “the world’s worst dog.”

“Gucci had been such a good dog,” James said. “He had his life. Gucci wasn’t like Marley. He was the perfect dog.”

Bernie Delinski can be reached at 740-5739 or


One Comment

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  1. Victoria Nichols / Mar 25 2010 1:54 AM

    R.I.P. Sweet boy…we will never forget you!

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