Rocky, a Haddonfield orthopedic surgeon's infamous Rhodesian Ridgeback, is once again a "potentially dangerous" dog.
The dog, one of several owned by Robert Taffet, was first labeled "potentially dangerous" in Haddonfield municipal court after several attacks that drew blood, including one in 2002 on another doctor in a borough park.
The "potentially dangerous" label would have required the Taffets to muzzle Rocky in public, to erect specific fencing and to carry a heftier insurance premium, the borough's attorney said.
The Taffets appealed, however, and a Camden County Superior Court judge ruled in their favor, claiming that their big pooch, who had been on St. John's wort for anxiety, had been provoked.
Yesterday, that decision was overruled by the state appellate division in Trenton, and Haddonfield officials hope Rocky has had his last day in court.
"We're relieved and happy the decision went in that direction because of the safety element of the case," said borough solicitor Mario Iavicoli. "It's time for this to be over. It's gone on for much too long."
Iavicoli said the Taffets could potentially petition the state's Supreme Court to look at the case, but he said few are ever taken.
The Taffets could not be reached for comment yesterday, but their attorney, William O'Kane, of Haddonfield, didn't rule anything out.
"The Taffets are disappointed in the appellate division's decision and are weighing their options," he said.
Susanne and Bob Principato, neighbors of the Taffets who said they had a run-in with Rocky in 2007, said yesterday's decision was a "bittersweet victory."
"We have been unhappy with this case from the beginning. It shouldn't take two-and-a-half years to protect the public from vicious dogs," the couple said in a statement.
The Taffets were supposed to be in a Salem County courtroom yesterday, defending another one of their Ridgebacks, but the case was postponed.