Josh Horner with his wife after being released from jail.
Image: Facebook\Oregon Innonce Project

The discovery of a supposedly dead dog has helped a man living in Oregon in the United States avoid a 50-year-jail term for sexually abusing a minor.

Joshua Horner was convicted of molesting a minor in 2017 and had begun serving time in jail. The accused claimed he had killed Lucy the labrador in attempt to silence her after the alleged sexual abuse.

At the time Horner denied both claims and said the dog must still be alive. He approached the Oregon Innocence Project who then tracked down the dog, which led to Horner being released from jail.

"Justice has been served in this case. We are grateful to our donors for allowing us to work on this case and five other cases of wrongful conviction," reads a statement on the organisation's Facebook page.