Supporters put up billboards to help save Phineas

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SALEM, MO (KTVI)--  The strange case of Phineas the dog took a new turn Friday.

Supporters trying to save him from being euthanized are taking their show on the road, which in this case is Interstate 44. And the show is two large billboards paid for by Phineas' Facebook fans who are trying anything they can think of to see his life spared.

The signs read: 'My name is Phineas. Please don`t let Salem, Missouri kill me.'

The two billboards went up on both sides of I-44 at the off ramps leading to Salem, where Phineas has been in custody since last summer, when he was accused, his supporters say falsely, of biting a child.

The matter is pending in court, but his fans are hoping the billboards will inspire the people of Salem to pressure Mayor Gary Brown to grant Phineas a reprieve, citing new evidence they claim proves Phineas' teeth do not match the little girl`s bite mark.

It's an unusual tactic, and according to Attorney Joe Simon, who represents Phineas` owners, it is a softer message than first planned.

"Originally we had discussed having the billboards say `Boycott Salem', but we decided that we would be punishing our supporters in Salem," Simon said.  "However at a certain point you`ve got to stop blaming the people that run the village and start to blame the village itself and I think that is a point we are starting to get near."

Mayor Brown thinks the idea of trying to bring pressure on him by putting up  billboards is a wasted effort because he does not have the authority to let Phineas off the hook since the matter is in court. Supporters cite a state statute that says mayors have the power to 'grant reprieves' for violations of city ordinances.

The chance for Simon to present the bite evidence that could exonerate Phineas is coming up on October 17th.

And the mayor says if the judge grants the dog's family the injunction they are seeking based on that new evidence, he`d be happy to let Phineas go home.

As for the billboards, Brown seemed unfazed.

"As the old boy said one day when he gave someone the finger that is freedom of speech," Brown said. "They've got the same thing, freedom of speech to do what they want."

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