A Labrador retriever that last week was sentenced to die by lethal injection for chasing mail carriers won a reprieve Friday when a judge dismissed the case against the canine.

The ruling followed hundreds of phone calls and written petitions from dog lovers, including former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and 40 members of the Italian Senate, all pleading for clemency.Kissinger, who owns a Labrador, spoke on the dog's behalf on the nationally syndicated television show, "American Journal," and vowed to ask Virginia Gov. George Allen to pardon the animal.

Meanwhile, Danville City Judge T. Ryland Dodson warned that the community will be no safer when the 5-year-old dog, named "Smok-ey," goes free.

The Danville Humane Society was still detaining Smokey late Friday.

"This is the most amazing thing I've ever heard of," Dodson said. He was speaking of the publicity generated by his Dec. 7 ruling sentencing Smokey to death after hearing testimony that the animal had chased, but not bitten, three mail carriers.

Dodson said he chose to spring Smokey after finding that the city ordinance was not in compliance with a recent amendment to state law.