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Tag: law

$1.26 million awarded to family of dog shot and killed by police officer in Maryland

vern

A jury has awarded $1.26 million to a Maryland family whose dog was shot and killed by police in 2014 — the largest award ever in the U.S. for such a case, according to the law firm that represented the family.

According to a press release from the Hansel Law firm in Baltimore, the verdict came after a three-day trial in the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County.

“The duty to serve and protect extends to our animal family members as well,” said Cary J. Hansel, the attorney for Michael Reeves of Glen Burnie.

Reeves’ four-year-old retriever, Vern, was shot by an officer responding to a burglary call in Reeves’ neighborhood.

Anne Arundel County police officer Officer Rodney Price claimed he was attacked by Vern, but forensic evidence presented at the trial led the jury to conclude otherwise.

vern2Vern was a Chesapeake Bay retriever. The breed is the state dog of Maryland.

The officer encountered the dog in the family’s front yard, and the officer said the dog barked and ran toward him.

During the trial, the officer admitted that the dog did not bite or injure him before he fired his weapon. The officer also said no other steps were taken to deal with the dog before the dog was shot two times, the Capital Gazette reported.

A necropsy performed at the request of Anne Arundel County police showed that one bullet entered the dog’s sternum, and another bullet entered the dog’s side, at a time when the dog’s body was perpendicular to the gun.

Attorney Hansel said that evidence contradicted Price’s testimony regarding how the shooting occurred.

An internal investigation by the police department earlier determined the dog had behaved aggressively. Price remains with the police department.

The jury found that Price was not attacked by the dog, that the shooting violated Reeves’ constitutional rights, and that it was committed with gross negligence.

Reeves got Vern in 2009 and took a year off work to train him. He declined to comment after the verdict.

The $1.26 million verdict includes $500,000 in monetary damages and $760,000 in damages for the anguish caused by the shooting.

The firm says the award was the largest ever in a case of a dog shot and killed by a police officer.

The Department of Justice estimates that about 10,000 dogs are shot by law enforcement officers every year in the United States.

Rhode Island lawmaker introduces bill that would ban pet leasing

Calling the practice “alarming, cruel and absurd,” A Rhode Island lawmaker is introducing a bill to ban pet leasing companies.

Rep. Charlene Lima said she’ll be introducing legislation that prohibits any business or individual in the state “from renting, leasing, or in any other way offering a live animal for sale as a ‘forever pet’ other than by a full outright sale.”

The ban would be similar to the only other such law in the nation, in Massachusetts, which was passed nine years ago when one of the first dog leasing companies planned to open offices there.

lima“I think a lot of people didn’t have any idea that this was going on, and this practice must be stopped in Rhode Island. I found it absurd and cruel,” the lawmaker said. Lima said she learned about the practice from a television news report.

The NBC 10 I-Team reported earlier this week that such pet leasing programs are being offered at Family Pet Center in North Providence and The Perfect Puppy in Scituate and West Warwick.

The programs require consumers make monthly lease payments. At the end of the lease, consumers must buy out of the contract to keep their pet.

Lima’s proposed law would make leasing a pet an animal cruelty violation, punishable by fine or imprisonment, according to a press release posted to her Twitter account.

Pet stores offering such programs would be subject to losing their licenses, and the lending institutions that arrange the financing — usually at outrageously high interest rates — could be subject to fines.

Lima said the companies “prey on the emotions of the less affluent by inducing them to enter into high interest loans, the so called lease/rent pet agreements …

“If someone is induced into spending more on an expensive pet than they can afford by these ridiculous payday lender type pet rental or lease agreements, how can they hope to afford the medical, food and other costs associated with responsible pet ownership? Ultimately, if they are unable to keep up the payments the ‘forever pet’ is repossessed much like a used car.

“This is cruel to the animal and the pet owner. It must be stopped now.”

The NBC 10 I-Team report found several complaints about pet leasing programs on the Better Business Bureau’s website.

When it sent a producer into both stores undercover, employees discouraged her from applying to the lease programs, and one told her she should adopt.

Both Family Pet Center and The Perfect Puppy offered financing through a pet leasing company called Wags Lending. The Perfect Puppy also offers leasing through another company called Nextep Funding.

Including interest, the report said, a consumer could easily spend $2,000 on a $1,000 dog over the course of a two-year lease. Even after 24 monthly payments, the consumer still has to buy out the contract to keep their pet.

(Learn more about the shady history of pet leasing here.)

After a pit bull named Trump gets neutered, his owner doesn’t want him anymore

rocco2

A Brooklyn man surrendered his pit bull mix — not because the shelter renamed the dog Trump, but because animal control wouldn’t return the dog without neutering him first.

Peter Gorgenyi said his 95-pound pit bull mix — who went by the name Rocco — ran off and was picked up by animal control two weeks ago. At the shelter, staff gave him the name Trump.

After learning the dog was in the city’s care, Gorgenyi was contacted by animal control on April 20 and informed that, under city law, the dog had to be neutered before he could be returned.

roccoTo Gorgenyi, 38, that was unacceptable. His life plan involved moving to a wilderness area in Montana, where he expected the dog — in his intact condition — to bravely fend off bear attacks and other threats.

“He had to be a masculine, strong dog, not a confused neutered dog,” Gorgenyi told the New York Post. “Neutering changes a dog’s behavior.”

Gorgenyi, a software engineer who we’re guessing is a pretty macho guy, filed a lawsuit in Manhattan Supreme Court to stop the procedure, but by then it was too late. Trump was neutered Monday.

He has since informed animal control that he doesn’t want the 3-year-old dog back.

Gorgenyi says he rescued the dog last year from an abusive owner.

The Post story quotes Gorgenyi as saying animal control bestowed his dog with the name Trump, but apparently he offered no thoughts on that. Gorgenyi does have multiple photos of President Trump on his Facebook page, the article says.

There was no comment on the case from representatives for Animal Care and Control, the Post said.

(Photos: Provided by owner to New York Post)

It’s my gun show and I’ll cry if I want to

gunshow

Let’s all join together in a giant boo-hoo for Thomas Allman, who says his health was put at risk when a service dog entered his gun show over the weekend.

Allman kicked out the dog — and the Bronze Star-winning veteran the dog accompanied (that’s them above) — saying the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) didn’t apply to them at his gun show. He explained his reasoning this way:

“It doesn’t apply because he’s not setting up at my gun show because we don’t allow dogs in my gun show,” he told Fox 14 News. (Click the link for video.)

The nerve of that veteran! Thinking he could just waltz into a gun show and put everyone else’s health at risk with a dog that helps him cope with injuries he received during his nearly 20 years of service in Iraq.

Did he give any thought that his actions could result in sneezes and stuffy noses among anyone who was allergic (like Allman) as they innocently shopped for new deadly weapons to add to their home arsenals?

Former U.S. Army Sergeant John Williams went to the Tri-State Gun Show at the armory in Evansville on Saturday as a vendor, but he was asked to leave because of his service dog, Winchester.

Williams, appropriately, raised a stink, and called the police, waiting outside for them to arrive and hear his complaint that his rights, under the Americans with Disabilities Act, were being violated.

Winchester was assigned to Williams by the Soldier Dogs for Independence group to help him with mobility.

The president of that group Michael Barrentine, was called to the gun show once he heard what was going on.

“There’s so much irony,” he said. “You have a 21 year veteran of the United States armed forces that’s disabled due to his military service that’s getting kicked out of the armory …”

Williams says he is still contemplating filing charges.

Thomas Allman stages several guns shows a year in Indiana (and whatever other two states comprise the “tri-state” area), allowing folks to show off, buy, sell and trade guns.

Something less than full scrutiny, apparently, is applied to those buying them: “They’ll ask them if they’re a felon or not and all we can do is take their word that they’re not,” Allman once said in a TV interview.

Allman is all for nurturing an environment in which guns can be freely sold and exchanged — something he says is necessary in today’s world.

“What would you do if ISIS came to your door today and you didn’t have any way of protecting yourself? They will come here. They’re coming folks so you better be prepared for them.”

So feel free to bring your guns to the show (unloaded please, he asks). Just don’t bring a dog.

Allman says dogs haven’t been allowed to sit at booths at his shows for the last 20 years. Apparently, he considers it OK for paid guests to bring service dogs, but not vendors (who pay a $50 registration fee).

“You want to come in the gun show and sell your guns, or walk around and look and trade guns with your service dog, we have no problem with that,” Allman said.

Under the ADA, “Allergies and fear of dogs are not valid reasons for denying access or refusing service to people using service animals.”

Allman is allergic to dogs — “I can’t stand to be sick and be put in the hospital” — and apparently gets a little anxious when they are around, as he also does amid talk of laws restricting gun sales.

ftwaynegunshow“Just cause they don’t want one, what’s the right to take anybody else’s away from them?” Allman said in a 2015 interview. “That’s my problem with it and I can’t handle that… This is what we do for a living and have a hobby of doing it and love doing it. It’s freedom. We’re in the United States. It’s freedom.”

Apparently, as he sees it, he’s the one who gets to define freedom. So his shows don’t allow cameras or news media past the entrance, don’t allow service dogs, and insist you don’t enter with a loaded weapon.

(That didn’t stop a visitor, and a drunken one at that, from loading up his .45 caliber handgun after he entered, firing it and injuring a a 72-year-old man and 16-year-old boy during the 2011 show in Evansville.)

We’d suggest that if Allman can’t handle service dogs, he stop holding public gun shows, or hire a representative to oversee them, or take a Zyrtec, or conduct his arms dealing online.

(Photos: At top, Williams and his dog, Winchester, WFIE; at bottom a photo taken at a gun show in Ft. Wayne)

Forsyth County passes tethering ban

tethered

Leaving dogs tied up for extended periods is now, with a few exceptions, flat out illegal in Forsyth County, N.C.

By a 4 to 3 vote, the county commissioners approved a ban on tethering this week, replacing an existing law many considered toothless and unenforceable.

Under the previous version of the ordinance, tethering per se was not illegal, but it could lead to additional penalties in cases of animal cruelty.

Under the new one, tethering is illegal except when it is being used for hunting, camping or other recreation where tethering is required.

Commission Chairman Dave Plyler, Everette Witherspoon, Walter Marshall and Ted Kaplan voted for the ban. Commissioners Richard Linville, Gloria Whisenhunt and Don Martin voted against it.

The vote was met with applause and cheers by animal welfare advocates attending the meeting.

Keith Murphy, Co-founder of Unchain Winston, said, “We’re really happy that it’s finally passed, we’ve been working on it for many many years.”

“When we started this in 2010 there were only 12 communities in North Carolina that had a tethering ban, now, luckily, Forsyth County has become the 26th in North Carolina to have a ban.”

“I started this the first time I was on the animal control advisory board 10 years ago,” said animal-welfare advocate Jennifer Teirney. “The people and animals of Forsyth County won this one. I’m glad to see us move forward in a progressive way.”

The old ordinance, adopted in 2011, didn’t go into effect until 2013, and many felt it didn’t go far enough.

The new ordinance allows for a grace period of one year.

If a resident violates the ordinance during the grace period, a warning ticket will be issued and the violator will receive information on the new ordinance and organizations such as Unchain Forsyth and Unchain Winston.

Those organizations build fences for families who need help unchaining their dogs.The organizations have built about 150 fences and 200 dog houses for residents.

(Photo: Fairfaxcounty.gov)

Woman’s complaint leads to policy change

An animal control officer in Durham declined to free a dog from a hot parked car for about two hours Saturday, despite the pleas of the woman who reported the situation.

As temperatures inside the car climbed to 117 degrees, Jennifer Miller urged the officer to take action, angrily posted pictures on her Facebook page, and pushed ice cubes through the cracked window of the car to the panting pit bull inside.

Miller, of Danville, Virginia, had called animal control Saturday afternoon after seeing the dog in the car, parked at The Streets of Southpoint Mall.

The officer who arrived checked the car, stuck a probe inside to take the temperature, but declined to take any action to remove the dog.

Instead, Miller said, he sat in his air conditioned vehicle and waited for the owners to return.

Miller, who serves on the board of a wildlife rehab center and volunteers with a humane society, said the dog, about six months old, was showing signs of heat stroke, but the animal control officer seemed unswayed by her opinion.

“He (the dog) was panting. His gums had actually already started to turn white,” she said. “It looked like he was kind of foaming at the mouth, that really thick saliva. And he was unsteady.”

The owners of the car, which had Maryland license plates, finally showed up about 4 p.m. The officer filed no charges, but told them to take the dog to a vet to be checked out.

Miller wasn’t satisfied with that ending. She continued to complain about how the incident was handled — and it paid off.

On Monday evening, the Durham County Sheriff’s Office announced a change in policy concerning animals left in vehicles.

Officers will no longer have to wait for animals to show signs of distress.

Under the revised policy, deputies will document the interior and exterior temperatures of a vehicle at least twice, and the deputy will use his or her discretion in determining whether the animal should be removed from the vehicle.

The new policy also allows deputies to decide whether to return the pet to its owner or pursue criminal charges after taking the animal to the local shelter.

“The Durham County Sheriff’s Office appreciates and listens to feedback from concerned citizens,” said the statement from the sheriff’s office statement.

Miller, despite winning a victory of sorts, sounds like she continues to be disturbed by it all.

“It is very clear that they could have charged this person. They did not have to wait two hours to get the dog out,” Miller told ABC11. “But the officers were not listening. They were very rude and belligerent. And it was very sad the dog suffered for two hours at least.”

Dog racing in Arizona is a thing of the past

tgp

Seventy-two years after it opened, Tucson Greyhound Park saw its final dog race Saturday night.

The track’s popularity had been declining for decades, but it wasn’t until Arizona’s legislature passed a bill earlier this year ending dog racing that its demise was sealed.

The park had been struggling since casinos opened in Arizona, offering gamblers a faster form of gratification.

“It’s no mystery,” said Michael Racy, a spokesman and lobbyist for the track for over 20 years. “As more casinos have opened, it’s gotten tougher and tougher.”

Phoenix closed its greyhound track more than seven years ago.

The owners of Tucson Greyhound Park, Joseph Zappala and Philip Robert Consolo Jr. of Florida, are still evaluating what to do with the property, Racy told the Arizona Daily Star.

The 60-acre facility will remain open for now, offering simulcast racing.

Even before the bill was passed, dogs began leaving the facility, most of them going to rescues.

Southern Arizona Greyhound Adoption has taken in about 50 dogs since April, and Arizona Greyhound Rescue has taken in about 20.

Greyhound racing remains legal in five states.

(Photo: Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Star)