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Owner of dog killed by police in Colorado receives landmark $262,000 settlement

chloe

In a settlement that’s being called one of the largest ever for a wrongful pet death, the owner of a dog shot and killed by police in Commerce City, Colorado, will receive $262,000,

Chloe, a 3-year-old chocolate Lab mix, was shot and killed by police in 2012 — after she’d been secured with a catch pole and shot with a stun gun.

A video camera captured Officer Robert Price firing five shots at the dog.

Chloe had been Gary Branson’s companion and therapy dog since 2008.

“I am happy that we have been vindicated,” Branson said. “She deserved justice for what happened to her. This has been a very difficult time for me and am glad that it is now settled.”

The payment was part of a settlement aimed at avoiding a federal civil court trial scheduled later this month, KDVR reported.

Branson had left the dog in the care of a relative during an out of town trip in November 2012. The relative left the dog in the garage while running errands and Chloe somehow activated the door’s sensor, making it open.

A neighbor saw the unleashed dog and called police to report an aggressive “pit bull”-type dog roaming the neighborhood.

When police arrived, Chloe was back in the garage. After getting the noose of a catch pole around her neck, and using a Taser on the dog, Officer Robert Price, deeming the dog’s behavior as threatening and aggressive, shot Chloe.

Commerce City police, after a review of the incident, said Price was acting “within policy” when he killed the dog.

He was nevertheless charged with aggravated animal cruelty, only to be later acquitted by an Adams County jury.

Attorney Jennifer Edwards with the Animal Law Center said that decision prompted the filing of a lawsuit.

“It wasn’t surprising. I think the prosecutor’s office was pretty conflicted in this,” Edwards says, “At that point my client did not feel much vindication so the only thing left is to pursue a civil remedy.”

Edwards said the settlement sets precedent for thousands of other cases.

“It speaks volumes as to the fact that this isn’t going to happen and you’re not going to not be held accountable,” she said.

For Branson, the settlement still isn’t enough to replace what he lost.

“No amount of money could replace Chloe,” he said.

Below is the video (be warned, it is disturbing) of Chloe’s death, taken by one of Branson’s neighbors.

(Photo from Justice for Chloe Facebook page)

Dog let out to pee ends up running 13-mile marathon — and coming in 7th

ludi1

In Elkmont, Alabama, on a Saturday earlier this month, April Hamlin let her big ol’ hound out the door to pee.

Prone to wandering a bit, the dog, named Ludivine, ended up about a quarter mile away, at the starting area of a half marathon.

She mingled with the runners and, when the race started, she ran the entire 13.1-mile course.

Ludivine came in seventh, with an unofficial time of 1:32:56

ludi2By the time a medal was draped over her head at the finish line, Hamlin still hadn’t realized that her two and a half-year-old dog was doing a lot more than relieving herself.

Then she started receiving texts and photos of Ludivine at the finish line.

“All I did was open the door, and she ran the race on her own accord,” Hamlin, 43, told Runner’s World.

“My first reaction was that I was embarrassed and worried that she had possibly gotten in the way of the other runners.”

Her second reaction was that marathons aren’t normally Ludivine’s style.

“She’s laid back and friendly, so I can’t believe she ran the whole half marathon because she’s actually really lazy,” Hamlin said.

Ludivine — the name is a shortened translation of “divine light” in French — often strolls around Elkmont on her own. The town has about 400 residents, most of which know Ludivine.

“She came bouncing up, and I petted her on the head,” said Tim Horvath, one of Ludivine’s fellow runners in the inaugural Trackless Train Trek Half Marathon. “… Elkmont is a small town where everyone knows everybody, so it didn’t strike me as unusual.”

Ludivine managed to place seventh despite detouring to romp through streams, sniff the grass in a few yards, check out some mules and cows in a field and investigate a dead rabbit, runners said.

Once she crossed the finish line, she slowed to a walk. Volunteers put a medal around her neck and started taking photos.

The race was held to raise funds for the cross country team at Elkmont High School.

“It’s the first half marathon in Elkmont, and the people who started it are parents of the kids who run cross country … Our school system doesn’t have a ton of money for cross country, Hamlin said.

“Because of this dog, they are getting so much publicity, and I think that’s the best part.”

(Photos: Ludivine approaching the finish line, and showing off her medal, from the Elkmont Half Marathon Facebook page)

Hachiko, come home

realhachiko

Hachiko, the dog, waited every day at Shibuya Station in Tokyo for his master to come home on the train — for more than nine years after his master’s death.

Hachiko, in statue form, has sat outside the train station for 82 years — a longstanding memorial to the dog’s loyalty

shibuyahachikoNow the northern Japanese city in which Hachiko was born, Odate, plans to ask that Hachiko come “back home,” Japan Times reports.

Hachiko didn’t live in Odate long — less than a year before he was purchased by a Tokyo professor. And Odate already has at least two other statues of Hachiko.

Still, the city of 75,000 hopes Tokyo might consider relocating the statue to Odate when redevelopment efforts begin in the Shibuya Ward.

“We are earnestly hoping for the return of Hachiko to his home,” said Tsuyoshi Kudo, an Odate city official in charge of tourism policy. “But we acknowledge the statue is an important property of Shibuya Ward. We need to ask officials carefully.”

An Odate official said the city’s mayor may propose the idea to Shibuya Ward when he attends a meeting in Tokyo on Friday.

The sculpture was originally erected in front of the station in April 1934. It was recycled for the war effort during World War II and in 1948 a new one — made by the original sculptor’s son — replaced it. It remains one of the area’s main tourist attractions.

hachikouniversityAnother statue, depicting Hachiko greeting his master, Hidesaburo Ueno, was installed last year at the University of Tokyo, on the 80th anniversary of Hachiko’s death. Ueno was an agriculture professor at the university.

Shibuya Ward plans to start rebuilding the area west of Shibuya Station after the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

It has not decided yet what will happen to the statue when the work takes place, a ward official said.

Officials in Odate say they hope the Shibuya statue could be displayed with the Hachiko statue at the train station.

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????The statue at the Odate train station — showing Hachiko with more erect, less floppy ears — was erected in 2004.

Odate is fiercely proud of being the home of Hachiko and home of the Akita.

The Akita Dog Museum is located there, and it features a statue of Hachiko, too.

Other Akita statues can be found across the city, and even the city’s manhole covers are decorated with Hachiko-related cartoon characters.

As for what remains of the real Hachiko, it’s back in Tokyo. His organs are at the archive museum of the University of Tokyo’s Faculty of Agriculture, and a taxidermy version — featuring his original fur — is at the National Museum of Nature and Science.

With his dog facing euthanasia, owner adopts another to use as a decoy

A Cincinnati area man whose dog was ordered put down after it attacked another dog tried to pull a fast one on the local SPCA.

Jason Dotson, as ordered by a court, turned over a pit bull mix for euthanization alright — but it was not the one court ordered to be put down.

Instead it was one he adopted just days earlier.

Dotson, 32, of Springfield Township, was sentenced to 28 days in jail for trying to get the SPCA to euthanize the decoy dog.

“In my 10 years as a judge, I can’t recall a more cold and heartless act,” said Hamilton County Municipal Court Judge Brad Greenberg.

According to FOX 19, Dotson’s original dog was not on a leash when it attacked a therapy dog and its owner as they were walking.

Police say the pit bull caused severe injuries to the therapy dog, who has been recovering for the last few months.

Dotson was charged with failing to confine his animal and he was ordered to put the dog down. But when he brought the substitute dog to the SPCA to be euthanized an “alert” worker spotted the difference in the dog’s coloring.

Through a microchip, the SPCA confirmed it was a different dog.

“Defendant brought a dog that wasn’t his dog, said it was his dog, and turned that over to the SPCA so they would destroy an innocent dog that hadn’t done anything to anybody,” said Ryan Nelson, assistant Hamilton County prosecutor.

Dotson had adopted the dog nine days earlier according to Fox 19, two days earlier according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.

He was sentenced to 30 days in jail.

The original dog has since been put down, according to SPCA officials.

Baby, the pit bull puppy who Dotson tried to pass off as his other dog, remains with the SPCA and will be getting a second chance at adoption.

Your dog, too, might be “worthless”

monyaks

It’s bad enough that Barking Hound Village — an upscale day care and boarding facility with locations around Atlanta — is defending itself in Georgia’s Supreme Court by arguing, in part, that a dog that died after being in its care was “worthless.”

What’s even scarier, and more hypocritical, are the organizations that are agreeing with that.

When the case went before the state’s highest court yesterday among the documentation the judges had to consider was a friend of the court brief, filed by the American Kennel Club, the Cat Fanciers’ Association and the American Veterinary Medical Association — all agreeing pets are mere “property” and that courts should award no more than “market value” in cases involving their deaths.

Yes, Barking Hound Village, at least on its website, professes to love your dog — and clearly has no problem charging you $60 a night for said dog to stay in its “presidential suite.”

And yes, veterinarians have no problem with you spending tens of thousands of dollars on your sick dog.

And, for sure, the American Kennel Club is only too happy to see the price of dogs go up, up, up — at least the provably purebred ones whose owners have registered them with the organization.

But your average, paperless pet, in the view of all those “pet-loving” organizations, is worth nothing — at least according to the friend of the court brief.

lolaThe case centers around a dachshund mix named Lola, who was 8 years old when she died of renal failure after her stay at the kennel.

Lola’s owners allege Lola was given medication she wasn’t supposed to receive, and it ultimately led to her death.

Barking Hound Village denies that it is responsible for Lola’s death. And even if it were, its lawyer argue, Lola’s owners should not recover anything more than the dog’s market value — in Lola’s case, since she was adopted from a rescue, exactly zero dollars.

“Their position is that a dog is like a toaster — when you break it, you throw it away and get a new one,” Elizabeth Monyak told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “A dog is indeed property under the law, but it’s a different kind of property.”

She and husband Bob Monyak spent $67,000 on veterinary expenses, including regular dialysis treatments for Lola.

Neither are strangers to the courtroom. She works for the state attorney general’s office. He’s also a lawyer, specializing in defending medical malpractice and product liability lawsuits. He argued Lola’s case before the justices on Tuesday.

Both sides have their supporters.

In the brief filed by the AVMA and AKC, the groups argued that considering a pet’s emotional value will lead to exorbitant amounts being awarded to pet owners in wrongful death lawsuits. And that, they all but threaten, would lead to bad things.

“Concerns over expanded liability may cause some services, such as free clinics for spaying and neutering, to close,” the groups said. “Shelters, rescues and other services may no longer afford to take in dogs and other pets … Fewer people will get pets, leaving more pets abandoned in shelters to die.”

The Animal Legal Defense Fund filed a brief in support of the Monyaks. It cited industry studies showing U.S. pet owners spent $58 billion on their animals in 2014, including $4.8 billion on pet grooming and boarding.

“It is hypocritical for these businesses, including (Barking Hound Village), to exploit the value of the human-companion bond, while simultaneously arguing that the same should be unrecoverable when that bond is wrongfully — and even intentionally — severed,” the ALDF said.

The Monyaks boarded Lola and their other dog, Callie, at Barking Hound Village in 2012. At that time, Callie had been prescribed Rimadyl, an anti-inflammatory for arthritis. The Monyaks contend the kennel incorrectly gave the Rimadyl to Lola.

They further allege that Barking Hound Village knew that a medication error had occurred during Lola’s stay, and the kennel covered it up by destroying evidence and withholding critical information.

They seek to recover expenses for Lola’s veterinary treatment as well as for the value Lola had to their family.

Barking Hound Village denies any wrongdoing. It says both dogs were fine when they left the kennel. And attorneys for the kennel said this in court filings:

“The purchase price of the dachshund was zero dollars, the rescue dog never generated revenue and nothing occurred during the Monyaks’ ownership of the dog that would have increased her market value. The mixed-breed dachshund had no special training or unique characteristics other than that of ‘family dog.’”

We hope the Georgia Supreme Court uses the case of Lola to send a message to those who see dogs as mere “property.”

And we’d love to see an answer to this question, from the kennel, from the AVMA and from the AKC:

If our dogs are so “worthless,” how do you explain the fact that you are getting so rich off of them?

(Photos: Top photo by Branden Camp, from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution; photo of Lola provided by Monyak family)

How a Australian journalist in New York became babysitter to an inmate’s dog

tiny2

When a man in a dirty overcoat stops you on the streets of New York, and begins opening up that overcoat to show you something, your best bet is to walk away quickly.

After all, it could be hot watches he’s trying to unload. He might be dealing drugs. Or maybe he wants to show you something else you really don’t want to see. Guns and body parts come to mind — or at least to the mind of a cynical type.

But journalists are also curious sorts. So when a man approached Jo Jarvis as she hailed a cab, she heard him out long enough to see what was behind his overcoat — a Yorkshire terrier named Tiny.

tinyThe man explained he was about to start serving a prison sentence and that he needed to someone to care for his dog, so he was trying to sell her for $100.

(Hang on now, don’t go judging him quite yet.)

Jarvis, a freelance journalist and meditation teacher from Australia who’s living in Brooklyn, admits that some darker possibilities were the first thing that went through her mind.

“I was immediately concerned. Was he running some sort of illegal puppy farm operation, or had he stolen the dog to make some money?”

Jarvis said she gave the man her phone number — her real number (we guess she is new to New York) — and told him to call the next day if he hadn’t found a new owner.

When he called the next day, Jarvis agreed to take Tiny, but only if she were free and he delivered her to her door.

Two hours later the man, named Jose, was in her kitchen. (Gotta be new to New York.)

jojarvis“It occurred to me that perhaps it wasn’t smart to allow someone about to go to jail in my place with the door closed. But strangely I felt very comfortable with Jose and I could see immediately how much he loved the little Yorkshire terrier whose name was Tiny,” Jarvis wrote in an article for News.com.au.

Jose explained to her that he was pleading guilty to a charge that would land him in Rikers Island.

He said it wouldn’t be his first visit there. But he assured her it would be his last.

Jarvis said she didn’t ask Jose what his crime had been.

“As Jose left he asked if he could ring when he got out to see if Tiny was OK. I assured him that was fine and that he could have her back at any time.

“So while Jose’s in Rikers Island, I’m Tiny’s dog sitter. Who knows if he’ll ever come for her. In the meantime, she has fallen on her little feet with her every need met in my Brooklyn loft.”

(Photos from News.com.au)

Dog helps elephant at rhino orphanage

A dog who grew up at an orphanage for rhinos, then left to pursue a career as a tracker, is back at the orphanage and has a new mission now — as an elephant’s best friend.

The German shepherd, named Duma, was still a pup when he arrived at the Thula Thula Rhino Orphanage in South Africa, where he was trained to help locate orphaned rhinos in the wild — before they became prey for poachers.

After three years, though, his tracking duties were required elsewhere, and rhino rehabilitation specialist Karen Trendler reluctantly said goodbye to Duma.

This past fall, Trendler gleefully announced on Facebook that Duma, after a year away, was back.

He arrived just in time to help deal with a young elephant named Ellie.

Ellie had been abandoned by his herd and arrived at the orphanage with several health issues. While those had improved, Ellie — the only elephant at the rhino orphanage — remained down in the dumps.

Until he met Duma.

On top of his other duties, Duma has brought Ellie out of her shell and the two have become inseparable, as shown in this report by EarthTouch News.