An Oregon City man pleaded guilty to shooting a dog that belonged to his father’s neighbor.
Police say the father paid for the hit.
For his involvement in what authorities described as a murder-for-hire, Derek James Walkoski, 31, will spend 28 months in prison for shooting and killing Paws, a black Lab that lived next door to his father in Canby.
In a hearing in Clackamas County, Walkoski told Circuit Judge Robert R. Selander that he shot the dog with a rifle, the Oregonian reported.
“You just shot him?” Selander asked.
“Yes,” Walkoski said.
“Any reason?” Selander asked. “Any justifiable reason?”
“No, your honor,” Walkoski said.
Walkoski pleaded guilty to first-degree aggravated animal abuse. He also pleaded guilty to being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm and recklessly endangering another.
Paws’ owner, sitting in the back row of the courtroom gallery, did not address the court.
Walkoski’s father, David James Walkoski, 61, whose trial is set for June 18, hasn’t admitted to any involvement in the killing of Paws. But he was arrested during the court hearing when prosecutors informed the judge he, while free on bail, pointed his finger at Paws’ owners and simulated firing a pistol – despite an existing no-contact order issued by the court. He was charged with contempt of court and booked into the Clackamas County Jail, with bail set at $50,000.
According to police reports, the Walkoskis’ neighbor returned to his home in April 2012 to find his dog dead. Police said the father paid his son to kill the animal, but did not offer a motive for the shooting.
(Photos: David James Walkoski (left) and his son, Derek James Walkoski)
Posted by jwoestendiek May 9th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal cruelty, animals, black, canby, court, dog, father, guilty, justice, killed, lab, labrador, law, murder fo hire, oregon, oregon city, paws, pets, plea, retriever, rifle, sentence, shot, son, trial
David Gizzarelli took in more than $17,000 in donations from big-hearted dog lovers in what he described as an attempt to save his dog Charlie, who was deemed dangerous after attacking a National Park Service horse.
But his attorney says Gizzarelli is unable to help out with the $9,000-plus tab for veterinary care, feeding and shelter that Charlie, an American Staffordshire terrier, has received since last August, when he was taken into the custody of animal control in San Francisco.
Apparently the $17,000 that was donated was spent on attorney fees, paying for the horse’s vet bills and “other living expenses.” That’s what Gizzarelli’s new attorney says, adding that his client can’t afford to help pay the bill and is currently sleeping in his car.
On Monday, U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Nathanael Cousins ordered Gizzarelli to pay anyway — specifically, half of the costs for boarding and treating Charlie since the incident.
Gizzarelli is still raising money to “help save Charlie” — via a Facebook page and his Help Save Charlie website — even though he has relinquished ownership of the dog, who is now in foster care and will likely end up in an adoptive home or sanctuary.
Until his court appearance, he had not provided any accounting of where the donated money went, according to the San Francisco Examiner.
Charlie has been in the custody of Animal Care and Control in San Francisco since August, when he was deemed “vicious and dangerous” by the police department. The cost for housing him and providing veterinary care for an earlier injury totaled $9,808 as of Monday’s hearing.
Gizzarelli, in an earlier settlement, agreed to give up custody of Charlie and attend a hearing to discuss payment for Charlie’s care.
But he kept selling “Help Save Charlie” merchandise and collecting donations even after that. And while Charlie could probably still use help — he hasn’t been deemed adoptable yet — it appears little if any of the donated money has gone for the dog.
Questions during Monday’s hearing revolved around the amount of legal fees Gizzarelli paid to two attorneys, and $3,000 his attorney said was spent on ”food, transportation and housing” — apparently for the human, not the dog.
Gizzarelli’s attorney, Orestes Cross, said his client has no money. “My client is on social welfare, living on $422 a month and sleeping out of his car,” told the judge during the hearing. “He fought the fight because he cares about his dog.”
Rebecca Katz, director of Animal Care and Control, says some donors to Charlie are likely upset. “I don’t believe those who contributed expected that money to go toward personal expenses,” she said. Since the settlement, Charlie has been in foster care. According to Katz, he needs several more months of training before he can be considered for adoption or placed in a sanctuary.
Gizzarelli faced federal assault charges after the attack on the police horse, but according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office those have been dropped.
(Photo: Help Save Charlie Facebook page)
Posted by jwoestendiek April 24th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: accountability, accounting, american staffordshire terrier, animal control, attacked, avid gizzarelli, bills, care, charlie, court, donations, donatoins, donors, expenses, facebook, feeding, help save charlie, horse, magistrate, money, national park service, park service, san francisco, shelter, veterinary, website
Tamira Thayne’s trial in Surry General District Court in Virginia was to have begun Tuesday.
Prosecutors said the misdemeanor charges against the founder and founder and director of Dogs Deserve Better, could be reinstated later, according to the Virginian-Pilot.
Thayne was charged with animal cruelty and inadequate care of animals in August 2012, after an animal control officer and state veterinarian inspected her Good Newz Rehab Center in response to a complaint.
Commonwealth’s Attorney Gerald Poindexter told the court he decided not to prosecute the case because a key witness, a former employee of Dogs Deserve Better who lives in South Carolina, did not show up for the trial.
Thayne, if convicted, faced up to one year in jail and $2,500 in fines.
Chief Animal Control Officer Tracy Terry said charges against Thayne would be refiled “in the very near future.”
“I’m an innocent woman and have always been an innocent woman,” she said. “Right now, I’m free, but there’s still this little bit of weight on my shoulders…. It’s not totally gone.”
Thayne opened the Good Newz Rehab Center in June 2011 at the rural estate on Moonlight Road where Vick once ran a dogfighting business.
Vick served 18 months in federal prison after pleading guilty in 2007 to charges related to a dogfighting operation.
Posted by jwoestendiek March 6th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal control, animal cruelty, animals, care, charges, complaint, court, dogfighting, dogs, dogs deserve better, estate, former, good newz, group, home, michael vick, moonlight road, organization, pets, pit bulls, pitbulls, rescue, surry county, tamira thayne, trial, virginia, witness
As early as this summer, the Yamhill County District Attorney’s office may take possession of the state’s first “courthouse dog.”
District Attorney Brad Berry received word in December that the county is in line to receive the dog from Canine Companions for Independence, a nonprofit organization in Santa Rosa, California.
Courthouse dogs sit beside witnesses who might be reluctant or fearful, such as victims of child abuse, and help provide a calm and reassuring presence during stressful situations.
“It takes just a few minutes of observing one of these amazing dogs with a victim to understand what an extraordinary benefit it is,” Berry said. “Watching as the dog lays its head on a child’s lap — the child almost unconsciously stroking it — while talking about difficult topics, leaves no doubt as to the soothing effect this can have.”
Courthouse dogs are also on the job in several other states.
Berry said the county has been told it could receive a dog sometime between May and August.
“We have worked diligently to show CCI (Canine Companions for Independence) not only the need for such an amazing animal in Yamhill County, but that we are ready to receive one and immediately put it to use with victims of crime, especially the most vulnerable victims in our system.”
Posted by jwoestendiek January 30th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, brad berry, calming, canine companions for independence, child abuse, court, courthouse dogs, district attorney, dogs, oregon, pets, support, testimony, therapy, victims, witnesses, yamhill county
The battle over Obie is over, for the time being.
Under a judge’s ruling this week, the obese dachshund at the center of a custody dispute will stay put with his caretaker, Nora Vanatta, who garnered national attention when she put the obese dog on a diet.
But the case could still go to trial later in the year, KATU reported.
At a court hearing Monday morning, a judge said it’s legally unclear who owns the dachshund, whose previous owners clearly overfed him and eventually reached the point of being unable to care for him.
Obie was surrendered by his original owners to Oregon Dachshund Rescue. Through that organization, Vanatta became his foster mom. Later, after Obie had gained fame, the rescue organization’s owner Jenell Rangan, filed a lawsuit seeking custody of the dog.
She’d asked that Obie be turned over to her until a trial is held. The judge declined to do that, ruling that temporarily, at least, Obie remain with Vanatta.
The case will now go to arbitration, and, if that fails, on to a trial.
“We’re just really happy about the outcome of the case,” said James McCurdy, who represents Obie’s caretaker. “Like the judge indicated in the courtroom, it’s far from over and we understand that. We’re just really ecstatic Obie can stay in the fantastic situation he’s in.”
Oregon Dachshund Rescue originally heard the dog was in need of a home and put out an online plea for help. Vanatta offered to foster the dog, and an Oregon Dachshund Rescue volunteer picked up Obie from his former owners’ home and delivered him to Vanatta.
“He’s doing well here,” Vanatta says. “It just doesn’t make sense to take him away now.”
Rangan said she believes Obie belongs to her, and that Vanatta is not providing good care.
Vanatta disagrees and says Obie, who once weighed in at 77 pounds, has lost more than 15 pounds since being in her care.
Posted by jwoestendiek January 25th, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, case, court, custody, dachshund, dog, dogs, foster, jenelle rangan, judge, lawsuit, nora vanatta, obese, obie, oregon dachshund rescue, pets, rescue, rescued, ruling
An Oregon judge says an obese celebrity dachshund should remain in the custody of his foster mom until the courts can determine his legal owner.
That means Obie — and we’re guessing the 70-pound dog is fine with the interim ruling — will be staying put for now.
At a court hearing today, a judge decided that the dog will stay with Nora Vanatta, a veterinary technician who volunteered to foster him – and put him on a diet — when his owners decided they could no longer care for him.
The court hearing today — and it’s just a first step — resulted from a lawsuit filed by Oregon Dachshund Rescue owner Jenell Rangan, who claims that, since the foster arrangement was set up through the rescue, the dog is legally her’s.
Rangan’s lawsuit was filed after Obie and his diet garnered some fame — but she has said she filed it because she didn’t feel Obie was being taken care of properly.
“They say I’m exploiting him,” Vanatta told KATU. “They say I’m misusing his funds and they claim he belongs to them.”
She added, “He’s famous and he’s touched so many people and I think they regret not taking him on in the first place,” Vanatta said of the rescue group.
Oregon Daschund Rescue was asking that the dog be turned over to them until ownership is decided, but the judge declined.
KATU reports that the case will go to arbitration, and could still possibly result in a trial.
Vanatta says Obie has lost 15 pounds in the last two months.
She’s collected thousands of dollars in donations for Obie from supporters, and said the money is being used for his care.
Posted by jwoestendiek October 29th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 70 pounds, animals, battle, court, custody, dachshund, diet, dieting, dog, dogs, fat, hearing, jenell rangan, judge, lawsuit, nora vanatta, obese, obie, oregon, oregon dachshund rescue, overweight, ownership, pets
The outdated legal view of dogs as easily-replaceable “property” — worth no more than you paid for them — is slowly beginning to catch up with the times.
The latest indication of a change in judicial thinking came last week when California’s Second District Court of Appeals ruled that pets are fundamentally different than other forms of property.
“Given . . . the reality that animals are living creatures, the usual standard of recovery for damaged personal property — market value — is inadequate when applied to injured pets,” Justice Kathryn Doi Todd wrote in her opinion.
She added, “Animals are special, sentient beings, (and) unlike other forms of property, animals feel pain, suffer and die.”
The Court of Appeals ruling came in the consolidated cases of two pet owners — one whose dog was shot by a neighbor, and one whose dog was injured by veterinary negligence. Lower courts had ruled they were entitled to no more than the market value of their pets.
The appeals court decision reversed both cases. The new ruling permits owners of wrongfully injured pets to recover the “reasonable and necessary costs” of treating and caring for an injured animal, according to the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), which had filed amicus briefs in the case.
The first case involved a German Shepherd named Gunner, who was shot by a neighbor and whose leg had to be amputated, costing his family more than $20,000. The second case involved a Golden Retriever named Katie, whose intestine was nicked during a surgical procedure. The vet also left a piece of gauze in her body. The errors led to the dog having to receive emergency surgery that cost Katie’s family more than $37,000.
In both cases, the trial court limited the plaintiffs’ recovery to a fraction of what they spent to nurse them back to health — namely, their dogs’ market value.
“This decision is a significant step forward for companion animals and their guardians,” said Matthew Liebman, ALDF senior attorney. “The legal system is finally starting to catch up with how the majority of people feel about the animals with whom they share their lives.”
Posted by jwoestendiek October 29th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: aldf, animal, animal legal defense fund, appeals, court, courts, dog, dogs, german shepherd, golden retriever, gunner, injuries, judicial, kathryn doi todd, katie, law, lawsuits, legal, market value, pets, property, ruling, value, view, wrongful
A photo Vick posted on Twitter shows a box of Milk Bones at the edge of the frame, indicating he might have gotten the family a pet, as he has recently mentioned he was considering.
Then again, they could be part of his diet. Or maybe they just keep them on hand for visiting pets, though I’d doubt there’d be too many of those.
In the photo, Vick is shown studying a game film on an iPad, while his daughter appears to be doing homework. At the edge of the picture, there’s an opened box of Milk Bones.
“It’s not hard to connect the dots from there,” Chris Chase wrote in his USA Today blog
The picture was quickly deleted and replaced by a similar, biscuit-less one, Chase wrote.
Under terms of his probation, Vick was ordered not to own a dog for three years. That period expired several months ago. In July, Vick, in an interview with Piers Morgan, said he’d like to get a dog for his children.
“I can’t take that dream away from them,” he said.
While his ownership of a dog would be legal now, it’s bound to be a source of contention among those dog lovers who still harbor a great deal of resentment toward the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback who admitted to drowning, electrocuting and beating to death dogs that did not perform in the dogfighting ring.
Vick, as part of his rehabilitation, has been working with the Humane Society of the United States, speaking to young people about the importance of treating dogs humanely.
Posted by jwoestendiek October 8th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, biscuits, court, daughter, dog, dog fighting, dogfighting, dogs, eagles, expired, family, michael vick, milk bones, order, ownership, pets, philadelphia, photo, prison, probation, quarterback, terms, treats, twitter, vick
That dog-themed mural painted on the side of an Arlington, Virginia grooming shop is being painted over, but the owner of the shop says a new one will go up — one she assures won’t be construed, like the first one, as advertising.
The whimsical, 960-square-foot mural on the side of Wag More Dogs ran alongside the Shirlington dog park, and was commissioned by store owner Kim Houghton for $4,000 shortly before the shop opened in 2010.
Even before the opening, Arlington decided the mural was not art, but advertising. Given city rules permit signs of only 60 square feet, they ordered it reduced or covered.
Houghton covered the mural with a blue tarp and sued Arlington in federal court.
In February 2011, U.S. District Court Judge Leonie M. Brinkema issued a 31-page opinion, siding with Arlington.
The judge concluded that Houghton “cannot reasonably assert that the dog mural is anything other than a business sign, erected as part of a business strategy to advertise and promote the Wag More Dogs brand.”
Houghton, a former advertising representative for The Washington Post, appealed, but this May the 4th Circuit federal appeals court upheld Brinkema’s decision.
Houghton’s attorney said this week that he disagreed with that decision.
“Today, Arlington County has muzzled free speech. If the mural displayed cats, dragons or ponies, it would be fine,” he told the Washington Post. No further appeals are planned, he said.
Houghton started painting over the mural Tuesday.
“I’m sad to see the mural that was an expression of my joy of being on this dog park, of my love of dogs, be wiped out, after a long struggle,” she said.
She said a new mural would replace it, free of commercial content, and unrelated to the shop, which grooms and boards dogs. The original mural contained some of the same cartoon dogs in her company’s logo.
(Photo: Tom Jackman / The Washington Post)
Posted by jwoestendiek September 27th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: advertisement, animals, arlington, art, boarding, court, dog park, dogs, federal, freedom of speech, groomer, grooming, kim houghton, mural, over, painting, pets, removing, ruling, shirlington, sign, virginia, wag more dogs
On top of the jail sentence, he was ordered to spend an additional six months on electronic home monitoring and pay the golden retriever’s veterinary bills, which amounted to $5,000, the Bellingham Herald reported.
The judge also banned Knowles from owning pets or having animals in his house.
At the sentencing, Knowles apologized to the dog’s owners, who since have moved out of state.
Deputy prosecuting attorney Dione Hauger said she asked for the maximum sentence “based on the brutality of the actual crime … on the thought and premeditation that went into it. And it was based on the fact that this was a fairly vulnerable victim.”
Knowles was arrested in March after police found the 3-year-old dog, named Kona, tied to a pole in his garage. Police said he lured Kona to his property with treats. The dog has since recovered from the injuries, which included a skull fracture and broken jaw.
Knowles had reportedly complained to Kona’s owner in the past about the dog’s barking.
At the sentencing, Knowles said the act wasn’t premeditated. “I just couldn’t take the noise any longer,” he said. “He was barking and I just snapped. I can’t explain it.” (Video from the hearing is included in this KBOI report.)
During a search of Knowles’ home, authorities found blood-splattered cutting tools, a hammer, a bloody garbage can and dog treats.
Posted by jwoestendiek September 19th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, animal cruelty, animals, attack, barking, court, cruelty to animals, dog, dogs, golden retriever, hatchet, judge, kona, neighbor, one year, orting, pets, ricky lee knowles, sentence, washington, wire