Petaluma animal control officials granted a reprieve Thursday for the dog that bit a firefighter last week and was scheduled to be killed at the Petaluma Animal Shelter.

Jeff Charter, executive director of the shelter, said the 5-year-old pit bull mix appears to be a good candidate for rehabilitation by a Santa Rosa dog trainer.

"We always look for an outcome other than euthanasia," he said.

The dog named Indi completed a 10-day rabies quarantine on Thursday and was scheduled to be put down.

But intervention by the trainer, Mary Quinn, was a key to the dog's reprieve.

"Mary is fantastic," Charter said. "She's been doing this for a long time in the county. I trust her judgment."

The shelter's dog trainer had also concluded that Indi could be rehabilitated, he said.

During her stay at the shelter, Charter said the dog "hasn't shown any hostility toward people."

Quinn, who runs an organization called All Aboard Animal Search and Rescue, said she works with unadoptable dogs that "need to be turned around" and specializes in training pit bulls. Quinn said she is working with the dog's owner, Daniel Dellucci of Rohnert Park, on the details of the rehab program.

"The community cannot be at risk from Indi," she said.

Charter also said he had talked to Dellucci and determined that the dog bite incident was "not as significant as I thought it was."

The dog bit Petaluma fire Capt. Martin McCarville's left leg and left hand on Sept. 16 while he was treating Dellucci's father for a medical problem at his home on English Street.

McCarville said the pit bull charged into the house and lunged at him twice. He was treated for puncture wounds to his leg and hand at a medical clinic and returned to work.

Charter said the incident could be "easily explained," describing it as a "stressful situation" in which the dog reacted to the presence of strangers in the home.

"If a dog really wants to bite you it will do more damage," he said.

Quinn said she wants to read the reports on the biting and talk to McCarville.

After talking to Dellucci, Quinn said she feels he has allowed Indi to become "protective of the door and windows of the house," barking when someone approaches.

That's acceptable, she said, but the dog owner "has to be in charge after that." Indi evidently "feels like she has leadership in the house," Quinn said.

Pit bulls are a "powerful breed," she said, and owners "have to know what they're doing."

Dellucci said the dog has always gotten along with his other dog, a border collie, and with his 16-month-old daughter.

(You can reach Staff Writer Guy Kovner at 521-5457 or