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
The breed of dog most often involved in attacks on humans in Liverpool is … the Jack Russell terrier.
In 2015 more canine attacks on humans were reported from Jack Russells than from other breeds often seen as more aggressive, including pit bulls, Rottweilers and German shepherds, the Liverpool Echo reported.
Police data show 71 dog attacks were reported to police in 2015. Jack Russells were responsible for six of the recorded attacks in which the breed of dog was known.
Pit bulls and Staffordshire bull terrier-type dogs accounted for five recorded incidents in 2015, German shepherds were involved in three, and collies were involved in two.
If police seemed to waste no time in compiling the year end statistics, that may be because Liverpool is one of the worst cities in England when it comes to dog bites. The city’s dog attack rate is more than twice the national average.
Jack Russells are known as high-energy dogs who can be very territorial.
Other breeds involved in at least one incident included a Yorkshire terrier, a Rottweiler, a St. Bernard, a French bull mastiff and a Chihuahua.
Posted by John Woestendiek January 6th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, attacks, breed, breeds, collies, dangerous, dog, dog bites, dogs, german shepherds, jack russell terriers, jack russells, liverpool, pets, pit bulls, police, rottweilers, statistics
A 21-year-old woman who police say was trying to sell both herself and a stolen German shepherd on Craigslist — in separate ads, of course — was arrested at a motel in the Poconos this week.
The German shepherd, named Shiba, was reported missing Nov. 23 from St. John the Beloved Coptic Orthodox Monastery in Canadensis, Pa.
Among those looking for the nine-month-old dog was a group called Hound Hunters of Northeastern Pennsylvania, and among the places they were looking was the Internet.They were tipped off about an ad on Craigslist, featuring a photo of a dog who appeared to be Shiba, in what appeared to be a motel room. All the owners were asking for was a “small re-homing fee.”
The first thing Hound Hunters did was call the number listed and arrange to buy the dog.
The second thing they did was search the Internet a little more, and discover that the woman trying to sell Shiba was also advertising herself as an escort.
The third thing they did was go to police.
The Poconos Regional Police Department began its own investigation, confirmed the woman had the two ads on Craigslist, and was promoting herself on other escort sites as well. On one of them, she had posted a message for police: “Hey Mt. Pocono PD catch me if you can.”
That taunt may have inspired police to take a little more interest in what they might have previously viewed as a run of the mill stolen dog case.
Police and members of Hound Hunters met in a vacant lot near the Travelodge motel and finalized their plan, in which Hound Hunters of NEPA President Christine Cahill and member Donna Barney, who had set up the meeting, would knock on the woman’s motel room door.Here, we’ll let Cahill, pick up the story.
“Donna and I would go in by ourselves,” she wrote in a detailed Facebook post. “We were to knock on the door, and when she answered and we confirm that she and the dog are actually there, Donna was to hit her call button on her phone to alert the detective…..and they would be there in the blink of an eye. They told us if anything didn’t seem right, we were to immediately get away from the door/window and take cover.
“First, let me tell you, just looking at this place (a motel), would give anyone the creeps. Second, with the info we found on this person, anyone would be crazy to just walk right up and knock on the door … but, yes, that’s exactly what Donna and I did.
” … I knock on the door, she pushes the curtain aside to look out, then opens the door, just a crack. We see a beautiful black nose sniffing through the crack … We were invited inside, but I asked if we could bring the dog outside (especially when I saw a man sleeping in the bed just inside the door).”
(At that moment, Donna was hitting the button on her phone to alert police, but she had lost her signal, as can happen in the Poconos. She excused herself, walked around the corner, picked up a signal and hit the button again.)
“Just as the girl stepped back outside, the police came around the corner,” Cahill wrote.
Kingston was charged with receiving stolen property and taken to Monroe County Correctional Facility.
Police said she will also be charged with theft of lost or mislaid property and solicitation to commit prostitution.
Shiba was reunited with her owners, who were visiting from New York when Shiba went missing. They made the two hour drive and picked Shiba up at the monastery.
“Donna and I are still bursting with adrenaline after our first ‘sting’ operation that actually included the police,” Cahill wrote in the Facebook post. “We’ve done this before, but not on the level of needing police back-up. As we like to say….. ‘This isn’t our first rodeo!’ And, I’m sure it won’t be our last.”
(Photos from the Hound Hunters Facebook page)
Posted by John Woestendiek December 11th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, arrest, arrested, christine cahill, craigslist, dog, dogs, escort, german shepherd, hound hunters, hound hunters of northeastern pennsylvania, investigation, kaynie kingston, missing, monastery, operation, pets, poconos, police, prostitution, reunion, sheba, shiba, sting, stolen
There was no justice for Nala in Baltimore this week.
A Baltimore Circuit Court judge on Thursday acquitted a former city police officer charged with animal cruelty, misconduct and mutilating an animal after he slit the seven-year-old Shar-Pei’s throat in the summer of 2014.
Judge Melissa M. Phinn said the state did not present adequate evidence that proved Jeffrey Bolger, 50, was responsible for the death.
That despite the fact he pulled out a knife and drew it across the throat of a dog already restrained by a catchpole — after uttering, at least according to one witness, “I’m going to gut this thing.”
Phinn noted that the verdict might not be popular, but said the evidence indicated the officer was acting in the interest of public safety and putting the dog out of it’s misery.
She also noted that Maryland’s Chief Medical Examiner David R. Fowler testified that the dog likely was dead before her throat was cut.
Phinn said that Bolger would not have the expertise to know the dog was already dead when he slit its throat.
Bolger’s attorneys — attempting to cover all the bases — had argued both that the dog was already dead and that Bolger was attempting to euthanize the dog in the most humane way possible.
“Rather than have a dog suffer needlessly, a dog that was going to be tested for rabies, he decided to make an incision,” said Bolger’s attorney, Steven H. Levin, said as he left the courthouse with his client on Thursday.
Apparently, at least according to the defense arguments the judge bought, Bolger — or should we call him Dr. Bolger — decided to euthanize an already subdued dog he wasn’t sure was dead or alive out of the goodness of his heart with his trusty pocket knife.
Contrary to the state medical examiner’s findings, a necropsy performed by a doctor working for the city’s animal control determined a cut artery led to the dog’s death.
The state medical examiner said those findings were faulty, and while some witnesses said they heard the dog whimper and that her eyes remained opened before Bolger cut her, the medical examiner testified that both signs are not uncommon even after death.
The judge noted that, while one witness said they heard Bolger say, “I’m going to gut this thing,” another person within earshot did not recall him use the phrase.
Prosecutor Paul O’Connor had argued the Bolger had no reason to slit the dog’s throat, saying she was already restrained when Bolger cut her.
Bolger’s attorneys argued that the officer did not have proper equipment to sedate the dog, that the dog choked “itself” to death while on the pole, and that Bolger used the knife to protect the public.
Both that pole and Nala’s collar “disappeared” long before the trial started.
Nala escaped from her yard last year and was spotted roaming the streets of a Highlandtown neighborhood. Police were called after she bit a pregnant woman who was trying to rescue her from traffic.
Bolger had no comment to reporters at the trial’s conclusion, other than to thank his attorneys. The dog’s owner, Sarah Gossard, 30, left the courtroom in tears.
In a Facebook post Thursday, she said she was “heartbroken,” by the judge’s verdict.
“I do believe that just because this judge didn’t find the evidence sufficient, that doesn’t mean that he didn’t kill her. I don’t feel that justice was served but I can only hope that Nala’s death has raised animal cruelty awareness.”
After the trial, Bolger’s attorneys talked about their client’s suffering — that’s right, Bolger’s suffering.
Levin said the case drew nationally publicity, negatively affected his client’s life and forced him to retire early from the police department and suffered after having been suspended without pay.
State’s Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Rochelle Ritchie said her office was disappointed by the judge’s decision. “It will not deter us from pursuing and prosecuting those who commit heinous acts against animals,” she said.
Katie Flory, who heads the Mayor’s Anti-Animal Abuse Advisory Commission and is director of Community Affairs for the Maryland SPCA, said she was also disappointed by the verdict.
“We are very sad and frustrated to hear that a guilty verdict was not given today. It shows us that we have a lot more work to do when it comes to the egregious acts to animals in our city,” she told the Baltimore Sun.
“We are very sad for Sarah’s family,” Flory added. “It’s not going to bring Nala back and we hoped for justice for Nala, and for her family.”
Posted by John Woestendiek November 20th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal cruelty, animals, baltimore, catch pole, catchpole, circuit court, cut, death, dog, dogs, jeffrey bolger, judge melissa phinn, killed, mutilation, nala, not guilty, officer, pets, police, shar-pei, sharpei, slashed, slit, throat, verdict
Vanderbilt University may well have some racial inequities worth addressing. And some racist acts may take place on campus from time to time. But Marley’s poop was not one of them.
A sack of dog poop left on the front steps of Vanderbilt University’s Black Cultural Center — discovered the day after a student demonstration to show support for protesters at the University of Missouri — was quickly decried by a student organization as a “vile” and “racist” act.
In reality, the bag was left there by a blind student who cleaned up the mess left by her guide dog, Marley, but could not find a trash receptacle to place it in.
On Monday, about 200 Vanderbilt students staged a walkout over campus race relations — one described as a show of support for the Missouri students, but also held to draw attention to Vanderbilt’s own problems when it comes to racial imbalances.
On Tuesday, the bag of feces was found in front of the Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center.
Backers of a university campaign called Hidden Dores, the mission of which is to “draw attention to the racial and ethnic minority experience on a predominantly white campus,” quickly placed a post on Facebook decrying the deed.
“The Hidden Dores team is appalled to announce that our demonstration yesterday was met this morning with a vile act. This morning someone left a bag of feces on the porch of Vanderbilt University’s Black Cultural Center. The center has served as the nexus of many aspects of black life on Vanderbilt’s campus since its inception 31 years ago. The violation of a place that in many ways is the sole home for black students is deplorable.
“As many of us sit in grief, recognize that these types of actions are what we speak of when we note the reality of exclusion and isolation of students of color and specifically black students on our campus. This act has hurt many and will not be received lightly. We will not allow for the desecration of the place we call home. As we announced yesterday and reaffirm today, we will not be silent.”
Campus police launched an investigation immediately. After surveillance camera footage was reviewed, officers contacted the student who appeared to have left the bag of feces there.
“The investigation found the bag was inadvertently left by an individual with a service dog who was authorized to be in the building who could not find a trash can near the entrance and did not wish to take the bag inside. VUPD has concluded, based on their investigation, that there was no criminal or malicious intent in this action, and the investigation is considered closed,” Vanderbilt News reported yesterday.
The blind student posted her own account of what happened on Facebook:
“I would like to inform everyone on this campus that no racial threat occurred. I am a blind student on this campus with a guide dog. I was meeting with a group last night to go over our debate for one of my sociology classes. My dog did her business outside on the grass and I picked it up and put it in a bag like always … I did not want to bring the feces inside and make the building smell, so I left it outside by the door … Everyone is going to point me out now as the blind girl who left her dog feces by the black cultural center. I am sorry that I do not know where all the trash cans are on main campus…”
Leaders of the Hidden Dores campaign put a new post on its Facebook page, apologizing to the blind student, and for reacting a little too swiftly.
“Given the recent elevation in polarization on this campus in the aftermath of our silent protest this Monday, evidenced by tough personal exchanges and anonymous targeted posts, it was too easy for us to believe that a member of our community would stoop low enough to maliciously leave fecal matter at the Black Cultural Center,” the Facebook post said.
“Nonetheless, we apologize to the Vanderbilt community for jumping to conclusions and for any personal trauma caused by the quick escalation of this situation.”
(Photo: Hidden Dores Facebook page)
Posted by John Woestendiek November 19th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, bag, blind, demonstration, dog, dog poop, dogs, facebook, feces, guide dog, guide dogs, hidden dores, incident, investigation, pets, police, poop, race, racial inequity, racism, students, university of missouri, vanderbilt university
Not every time a police officer encounters three barking pit bulls does the story end on a positive note, but I promise this one won’t haunt you.
Three pit bulls trapped in a storm drain on the side of a Florida highway were rescued earlier this week, thanks to the efforts of police, animal control officers and a fire department rescue team.
A Cocoa police officer found the dogs Tuesday morning after hearing them barking, WFTV reported
Officer Matt Rush called Brevard County Animal Services officers, who then called Cocoa Fire Rescue to help remove the heavy grate they were trapped under.
Firefighters were able to pry open the grate and the dogs were safely removed and turned over to Brevard County Animal Services. According to a Facebook post, the dogs, who had no tags or other identification, have been returned to their owner.
“My first thought was, ‘How in the world did they get in there, and how did I manage to hear them?'” Rush said.
Authorities say the dog may have gone into an open drain nearby that leads into the storm sewer system.
Posted by John Woestendiek October 30th, 2015 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animal control, animal services, animals, brevard county, cocoa, dog, dogs, fire rescue, florida, grate, pets, pit bulls, police, rescue, rescued, saved, sewer, storm sewer, trapped, video
A new documentary brings attention to an epidemic that really needs some — the shooting of dogs by police officers in America.
Anyone who reads this website knows it happens far too much — take Tuesday, for example — and often without good reason.
There are no firm statistics, but consider the estimates: The Department of Justice says about 10,000 dogs are shot by police officers every year.
And the number of police officers killed by dogs? None. Ever.
The documentary “Of Dogs and Men” takes a look at those alarming numbers, and what’s behind them, featuring many of the same cases we’ve reported here:
• Cisco, who was playing Frisbee with his owner in his Austin, Texas back yard when police at the wrong address for a domestic dispute call, shot and killed him.
• Payton and Chase, who were shot by police during a raid on a Maryland home – not only was their owner innocent of any charges, he is the town’s mayor.
• General Patton, who watched as his owners were handcuffed on the side of a Tennessee highway, completely innocent of any charges, and then killed as he exited the car, wagging his tail.
• Patches, a 12 pound Jack Russell terrier, who was shot by a 250-pound police officer who claimed to be in fear for his life.
“From SWAT raids to simple calls and even visits to wrong addresses, we are seeing more and more incidents of officers using lethal force against a family pet, despite the fact that no officer has ever been killed in the line of duty by a dog,” said director Michael Ozias. “We are hoping that this film compels more jurisdictions to follow the lead of states like Texas and Colorado that have taken steps to protect our law enforcement officers and our family dogs through increased awareness, proper training and effective policy.”
Of Dogs and Men, by Ozymandias Media, Inc., will premier Nov. 1 at the Austin Film Festival.
The film is being released in association with the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF).
“Use of deadly force is rarely justified in these types of cases,” said ALDF Executive Director Stephen Wells. “With better training, we are confident that we can put an end to these pointless killings,”
“Of Dogs and Men does an excellent job educating citizens on both the common facts of these heartbreaking cases and the surprising scope of the problem, while highlighting the tools citizens can employ to change outcomes for the better—from legislation requiring officer training in canine encounters to litigation under the federal civil rights act,” Wells added. “This film needed to be made and ALDF is proud to be a part of it.”
Some states are headed in the right direction.
Texas, where the problem is perhaps most severe, passed HB 593 in 2015, which requires mandatory canine encounter training for incoming Texas peace officers as well as those who seek advancement. The training helps officers who encounter dogs achieve safe and non-confrontational outcomes for both the officer and the dog.
The State of Colorado also enacted a statute that requires local law enforcement to undergo training to differentiate between threatening and non-threatening dog behaviors, and employ non-lethal means whenever possible.
Illinois has enacted similar legislation and other states are considering it as well.
Posted by John Woestendiek October 23rd, 2015 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: aldf, animal legal defense fund, animals, documentary, dog, dogs, epidemic, killed, killing, law enforcement, of dogs and men, officers, pets, police, shooting, shot, statistics