October 03, 2001 11:00 pm

SALEM (AP) Kiss-Kiss the dog, on death row for attacking a neighbors pooch, is about to be freed. He was spared from execution on Wednesday by the state Court of Appeals.

A chow-shar pei mix, Kiss-Kiss has been incarcerated at a shelter in La Grande for nearly 17 months after a county judge ruled that he be destroyed.

Whats that, 10 years in the life of a dog? asked Robert Babcock, lawyer for the dogs owner.

Kiss-Kiss never should have been sentenced to death for getting into a fight with a neighbors golden retriever on May 27, 2000 near Hood River, Babcock argued.

The attack left the other dog, Wags, so wounded that his tail had to be amputated.

Kiss-Kiss owner, Mo Stevenson, contended that Wags lost his tail because his owner used a rusty hoe to break up the dogfight.

Babcock said the incident should have brought nothing more than a fine, or an order that Kiss-Kiss not be able to run at large.

The appeals court ruled that the woman who filed the complaint, Susan Farber who was walking Wags for his owner, Rod Windle had no legal standing in the case. Farber brought the complaint in Hood River County Circuit Court, using a county ordinance prohibiting dogs from acting in a vicious and dangerous manner.

The court noted that no county prosecutor was involved in the case, and that state law prohibits private persons from initiating such complaints.

Although the county ordinance permits a private party to initiate a proceeding for violation of the dog control ordinances, (state law) specifically does not allow such initiation of violation proceedings in state circuit court, the appeals court wrote.

The court also vacated the county judges decision to destroy the dog.

Babcock said Stevenson should be able to pick up Kiss-Kiss sometime in the next few days after paying more than $4,000 in room and board for the animal.

Shes delighted to be getting her dog back, and Im sure frustrated that its taken so long, Babcock said.

AP-WS-10-03-01 1634EDT