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)
Posted by John Woestendiek January 27th, 2016 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, chloe, chocolate lab, civil, colorado, commerce city, court, dog, dogs, five times, gary branson, justice for chloe, law enforcement, lawsuit, mix, pets, pit bull, police, police killing dogs, settled, settlement, shot
At age 3, his owners in Minnesota figured Beau — full name Victoire Gerie’s No Lemon Gemstone — could breed at least until he was 10.
In the process, they figured, they would be ensuring his genes and his legacy lived on .
And they’d get the puppy that they desperately wanted.
But those hopes, and those bucks, seemingly became a thing of the past when Beau’s breeder had the little white dog neutered without their knowledge, owners Mary and John Wangsness allege in a lawsuit.
The legal dispute has been going on for about a year now in Minnesota’s Ramsey County, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
The Wangsnesses allege breeder Vickie Halstead, who sold them the dog, acted in “vengeance” by neutering Beau because they had tried to breed him twice to a female dog, Cha Cha, without obtaining Halstead’s approval, which was required in the sales contract.
They are seeking more than $50,000 in damages, and about eight vials of what they believe to be Beau’s frozen semen, now stored in a veterinary clinic and estimated to be worth $3,000 each.
The semen is being held under Halstead’s name, and the lawsuit alleges she has already profited from selling two vials.
As John Wangsness sees it, since it came from the loins of his dog, what’s in those vials are his.
“Damn right, they’re mine,” he said.
Beau was neutered without their approval in July 2013, when he was 4.
“After hearing about the neutering, and I’m not overstating things at all, Mary literally cried and stayed in bed for three weeks,” said Wangsness, adding that she never fully recovered before she died this past March.
The case isn’t as black and white as it might seen. In the competitive world of dog showing, ownership of a dog — as well as decisions about its care and profits — are often contractually shared between the breeder and the owner.
And that much debated sperm might not even be Beau Lemon’s.
Halstead’s attorney, Joseph Crosby, said at a recent hearing that the frozen semen belongs to Beau’s brother, Beau Jangles.
Crosby said Halstead “rescued” the dog from the Wangsnesses because they were neglecting him. He said Beau was suffering from dental disease, a low sperm count, impacted anal glands, and a matted and unhealthy coat.
Crosby said Beau’s neutering was necessary due to his “deteriorated health condition.”
In June of 2013, Halstead borrowed Beau from the Wangsnesses for what she told them was breeding purposes, the lawsuit says.
They did not learn of his neutering until he was returned.
Larry Leventhal, attorney for the Wangsnesses, said the couple treated Beau as a pet, but they also expected to have the option of breeding him several times a year at a rate of $2,000 to $3,000 per breeding until he turned 10.
Wangsness said that, more than money, he wants justice for his wife.
“I would like some vindication for the emotional distress that happened to Mary as a result of [Beau’s neutering],” Wangsness said.
Attorneys were scheduled to meet Tuesday to discuss a settlement agreement.
(Photo: Beau, as pictured on the website for Victoir’s Bichons)
Posted by John Woestendiek September 23rd, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, beau lemon, bichon frise, breeders, breeding, champion, competition, court, dog, dog shows, dogs, frozen semen, lawsuit, neutered, pets, Ramsey County, settlement, sperm, Vicki Halstead
That police in St. Clair Shores in Michigan saw killing a dog as the preferable way to stop her barking has been pretty well documented in dash cam videos that have become public.
As soon as they pulled up at the scene, their dashboard camera recorded remarks they were making inside their patrol car, like “The only thing I’m going to do is shoot it” and “I don’t do snares. I don’t do dogs … I’ll shoot the f—ing thing.”
But why there were 15 bullet holes in Lexie, a dog police officers only admitted to shooting four times, is a question that may go unanswered — at least until a federal lawsuit filed by the dog’s owner comes to trial.
The lawsuit, filed earlier this month, stems from the November 2013 shooting of Lexie, a 44-pound mixed breed who was the subject of a barking dog complaint filed by a neighbor.
Lexie’s owner, Brittay Preston, filed the lawsuit against the city of St. Clair Shores, two police officers and an animal control officer, according to Fox News in Detroit. It alleges a violation of her Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable seizure.
The lawsuit seeks money damages, and assurances that St. Clair Township police will “train their officers so that there’s not another incident where they respond to a barking dog complaint by killing it,” said Preston’s attorney, Chris Olson.
Preston was at work and the dog was under the care of a grandfather, who suffers from dementia and forgot to let Lexie back inside during a cold night.
Officers, after discussing their alternatives in the patrol car, approached the home and eventually persuaded the grandfather to let the dog in the house. After he agreed to do so, they shot the dog saying she lunged at them in a threatening manner.
Attorney Olson said the discussion recorded by the dash came shows the shooting was premeditated.
“Neighbors complained of a dog that was barking. [Police] showed up. The first thing that they said out of their mouths was they don’t like dogs; they don’t do dogs; they’re going to shoot the dog anyway. And that’s exactly what they did,” he said.
“Then they shot the dog again, instead of trying to take care of the dog, getting some care of the dog to prevent it from dying, they did what they intended to do. They made sure that the dog died. They shot it again, and then the dog walked into the animal control van and then when we picked up the dog it had extra bullet holes,” he added.
A necropsy conducted by a veterinarians found 15 bullet holes in Lexie.
Officers, after shooting and wounding the dog, can be heard discussing what to do next, including “choking it out” and “using a shovel,” according to the lawsuit.
One officer remarked that would be a bad idea because “you know this is going to be all over Facebook in about an hour.”
“We’re saddened when anyone loses a pet, but since the city and its employees are being sued, the city will certainly defend the lawsuit,” St. Clair Shores City Attorney Robert Ihrie said in a statement. “The complaint that was filed is filled with innuendo, speculation and half truths, and I have no doubt when it’s held up to the light of day, the truth will bear itself out in court.”
(Photo: from the Justice for Lexie Facebook page)
Posted by John Woestendiek July 25th, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: 15 bullet holes, animals, barking, brittany preston, brittay preston, cam, complaint, conversation, dash, dashboard, dog, dogs, federal, Fourth amendment, justice 4 lexie, justice for lexie, killed, law enforcement, lawsuit, lexie, michigan, necropsy, nuisance, officers, pets, police, recorded, shooting, shot, st. clair shores
The settlement followed a federal judge’s declaration that Sabal Palm Condominiums in Davie, which sued to force the woman to get rid of the dog, had behaved in a manner both absurd and unreasonable, not to mention in violation of the Fair Housing Act.
“Sabal Palm got it exactly — and unreasonably — wrong,” U.S. District Judge Robert N. Scola wrote in his order.
“This is not just common sense — though it is most certainly that.”
Scola ordered the condo association to allow Deborah Fischer, a retired art teacher, to keep her service dog, the Miami Herald reported.
Fischer, who uses a wheelchair and has limited use of her arms and hands, received a service dog in November 2011 from Canine Companions for Independence, a nonprofit group that provides dogs for people with disabilities.
The dog – a 5-year-old Labrador-golden retriever mix named Sorenson — has been trained to help Fischer pick things up, open and close doors and retrieve items from counter tops.
The condominium association, saying the dog violated its 20-pound limit on pets, began demanding medical records and other information to prove that Fischer needed Sorenson — and it sued Fischer when, it said, she failed to provide it.
Fischer, along with her husband, Larry, counter-sued, saying the condo board’s demands violated the federal Fair Housing Act, or FHA.
Judge Scola, in a 30-page ruling, strongly agreed with Fischer.
That the condo association “turned to the courts to resolve what should have been an easy decision is a sad commentary on the litigious nature of our society. And it does a disservice to people like Deborah who actually are disabled and have a legitimate need for a service dog as an accommodation under the FHA,” he wrote.
Condo board members suggested that Fischer could get a smaller service dog, but Scola didn’t buy that argument.
After Scola ruled in the Fischers’ favor, their attorney negotiated a $300,000 settlement with the attorney representing Sabal Palm.
Fischer said Sorenson can recognize 40 separate commands.
“He has made my life so much better,” she said.
(Photo: Courtesy of Matthew Dietz)
Posted by John Woestendiek May 30th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, association, condo, condo association, condominium, countersuit, court, davie, deborah fischer, disabilities, dog, dogs, fair housing act, federal, fha, florida, golden retriever, judge, judge robert scola, labrador retriever, lawsuit, matthew dietz, mix, ms, multiple sclerosis, pets, robert scola, ruling, service, service dog, settlement, sorenson
Alanis Morissette says her housekeeper took her Chihuahua mix.
The housekeeper says the singer no longer wanted the dog and asked her and her fiancé — seen in this video explaining their side of the story — to take him.
Morissette and her husband, Mario Treadway, have filed a lawsuit, seeking $25,000 and the return of the dog.
Maria Garcia, the housekeeper, and her husband Patrick Murch, a dog walker, responded with this video, claiming Morissette told them the dog was “too annoying” to keep, and arguing the dog — given he was given to them and given they have cared for him for the past year — should be theirs to keep.
They say they asked Murch and Garcia to care for the dog while Morissette was on tour, for most of 2012.
Garcia house sat for the couple during the tour. When Morissette returned in early 2013, Garcia says she was asked to take the dog home with her because his behavior had become, in Morissette’s view, ”annoying and insufferable.”
Since March of 2013, Circus has lived exclusively with Murch and Garcia.
Garcia says Morissette was allergic to Circus, and that the dog was food aggressive and was relieving himself inside the singer’s house.
“Mario and Alanis were both frustrated with Circus’ behavior and said he was disruptive to their family, posed a risk to their other dogs and their child…”
In a blog called Help Circus Stay!, they add, “They gave him to us a year ago and he’s been with living with us since, happily, healthily and loved by his little family. Now they are trying to rip our family apart!”
Morissette and Treadway fired Garcia in January of this year, and filed the lawsuit seeking the return of Circus a couple of months later.
After the housekeeper and dog walker posted the video last month, Morissette and Treadway further complained that, by doing so, they have made the dog a target for dognappers, TMZ reports.
Treadway filed additional legal documents in which he said Circus “is not merely a piece of property. He is living and breathing.” Each day he is separated from the dog, he said, “[my] heart suffers more and more.”
Posted by John Woestendiek April 3rd, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: alanis, alanis morissette, animals, behavior, caretaker, chihuahua, circus, custody, dispute, dog, dogs, fight, given, housekeeper, issues, lawsuit, los angeles, maria garcia, mario treadway, mix, morissette, ownership, patrick murch, pets, singer, stolen
A homeowner’s association at Paradise Lakes Resort doesn’t have weight limits when it comes to human residents, and we guess that’s a good thing — even though the condo community is a clothing-optional one.
But the association’s rules run a little stricter for dogs, including one that bans any dogs over 25 pounds — apparently even when it’s a guide dog that belongs to a legally blind resident of the nudist community.
By now you’ve probably guessed that this can only be happening in Florida, specifically in Lutz, where a homeowner’s association has told Sharon Fowler she needs to get rid of her black Labrador, Laura, or move out, according to a lawsuit.
Fowler filed a lawsuit against the association last year. It was dismissed by one judge, but now that dismissal has been overturned by an appeals court, and Fowler has renewed her fight to keep the dog she says she can’t get around without.
“She helps me to get around curbs and obstacles,” Fowler told the Tampa Bay Times. “She’s 100 percent necessary to me. She’s my lifeline.”
According to a lawsuit filed last year, Fowler received a letter from the association telling her to get rid of the dog or move out.
The association said the dog violated their weight limits — something that wasn’t pointed out when Fowler filled out an application, disclosing the dog’s weight, when she moved in.
Even when Fowler provided documentation of her disability, the association did not withdraw the notice of the violations, according to the lawsuit.
“I felt demeaned, and I felt degraded,” Fowler said. “I’ve never felt so degraded.”
Her lawsuit seeks injunctive relief and monetary damages for mental anguish.
“It’s the principle of the fact,” Fowler’s husband, Craig, said. “The board needs to know they cannot bully us around.”
Fowler says she has been told to only walk the dog in specific areas, and stay out of the way of pedestrians. She’s also been told her dog is out of control, which she says is not the case.
“My dog is a highly trained service animal,” she said.
“Paradise Lakes Resort does not discriminate against any person with physical disabilities and does not prevent any person with service animals from visiting the resort,” owner Jerry Buchanan said.
Fowler’s accusations were directed at a homeowners condominium association not connected with the resort.
Fowler says she has a rare autoimmune disease called leukocytoclastic vasculitis, which has already affected her sight and could affect her hearing.
She doesn’t want to move because she has learned her way around Paradise Lakes, and appreciates being able to live in a clothing optional community.
(Photo: Fowler and Laura; by Brendan Fitterer / Tampa Bay Times)
Posted by John Woestendiek February 28th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, assistance dogs, association, black lab, blind, clothing, clothing optional, community, condo, dog, dogs, florida, guide dog, lab, labrador, laura, lawsuit, legally blind, lutz, nudist colony, nudists, nudity, paradise lakes resort, pets, rules, service dogs, weight limits
When NFL defensive lineman Michael Bennett left the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last year to join the Seattle Seahawks, he left his dog behind.
As his new team ran up a record that may see them heading to the Super Bowl, his boxer puppy, named Koa, languished in a Tampa boarding kennel.
Bennett, according to a lawsuit, apparently didn’t get around to transporting the dog to his new home, or paying the dog’s boarding fees, or returning the kennel’s calls.
A lawsuit filed by the kennel, Lucky Dog Daycare and Resort, is seeking $5,000 to cover the costs for Koa’s care and expenses related to finding him a new home.
Koa was four months old when left at the kennel, in March, 2013.
In the lawsuit, the kennel claims the puppy was so distraught after being abandoned, he “eventually began refusing to eat, losing his hair and clearly failing to thrive.”
Seattle Dog Spot reported back in November that Bennett, despite his $5 million a year salary, had neither reclaimed his dog nor paid for the dog’s boarding.
TMZ reported last week that the kennel had filed a lawsuit. Bennett hasn’t responded with his side of the story.
Subsequent reports — though we see it as an unfair stretch — have compared Bennett to a certain Philadelphia Eagles (at last report) quarterback, whose name and dogfighting conviction we won’t mention, given he has ”reformed” and “paid his debt to society.”
The kennel, through a boxer rescue organization, has found Koa a new home. He has been renamed Quigley, and is said to be thriving with his new owner, described in one report as an out-of work puka shell salesman.
That may not be the life of luxury the dog could have had with a professional football player.
But, honestly — and here comes my unfair but heartfelt generalization – if I were a dog, and had the choice of living with an NFL player or an out-of-work puka shell salesman, I’d pick the out-of-work puka shell salesman any day.
(Top photo: TMZ)
Posted by John Woestendiek January 13th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abandon, abandoned, abandonment, adopted, animals, boarding, boxer, football, kennel, koa, lawsuit, lucky dog, michael bennett, nfl, pets, puka shell, rescue, salesman, seattle seahawks, tampa bay bucaneers