March 24, 2017

Dog Haters

No, don't ever accuse me of this, as I love cats and dogs equally. This last week has been a real test of my will and having a judge that was willing to listen to someone without legal qualifications. I will only say that the person bringing the lawsuit against the owner of a mobility service dog almost got away with it.

The store owner from the town that my friend used for training mobility service dogs, my friend, and I were present for all four days of the trial. On the evening of the second day of the trial, my friend brought in another person with a mobility service dog. The judge and two local sheriff department officers knew of this and all three were ready for action. The person behind the lawsuit was not aware and the city police were not aware because they were holding the first dog and would not let it be brought into the courtroom at the request of the person.

The person with the mobility service dog entered the store and as soon as the store owner realized this, he removed the person and went to remove the dog. He did not realize that the judge and two sheriff department officers had slipped into the store and were waiting to see what would happen. As suspected, the store owner had a whip and was using it on the dog. At that point, they moved in and arrested the store owner and the judge asked the store owner if this is what he had done to the first dog. He of course denied this and the sheriff deputies were ordered to take him to the sheriff office and confine him for the night and report to the city police department with a local veterinary.

When they arrived, the chief of police would not release the dog they had, but did allow the veterinary to examine the dog. The dog had lost the sight in one eye and still had several large welts on its head and back. At that point, the judge called the sheriff and had him come and arrest the chief of police and several police officers for animal cruelty and not following court orders. The next day, when everyone was in the courtroom, the judge handed out sentences for the police officers and the chief of police.

Next, the judge addressed the store owner and asked him why when the dogs did him no harm, had he taken after them with a whip. All he would say was that the dogs were not allowed in his business and he could do what ever he wanted to trespassers.

Unknown to even us, the judge had asked a representative from the American Kennel Club (AKC) to be present. The judge asked my friend and me to take the injured dogs through the test for good citizenship. When the store owner saw the first dog, he pulled the whip out if his shirt and struck out at the dog. He was taken down by the sheriff officers and removed from the courtroom. My friend then started the test with the second dog and the AKC tester said that the dog passed the test. Then I brought the first dog to the front and started the test. When I completed the test, the AKC tester said that even with only one eye, the dog passed the test. The AKC tester said he had been make aware of the happenings and still these dogs could pass the test. He went down to one knee, invited both dogs to him, and petted both. Next he talked to my friend and asked if this was something we encountered on a regular basis.

My friend said no, but we no longer have a regular tester as that individual has passed and we now have to travel longer distances to have our dogs tested. I was then asked for my role in this. I explained that the dog that I tested was the first dog I had taken through the AKC test. I was an assistant to my friend and had worked several summers for him and with the dogs.

The AKC tester then addressed the judge and said for the abuse both dogs had been exposed to, they still were safe for their role as mobility dogs. My friend spoke up and said that if the current owner did not mind, he would like to replace the dog with one eye. The judge asked the current owner and he said that he would like to think about this, but was in no hurry, as he wanted to have the dog heal first.

The judge asked that both dogs be returned to the court room the following day and asked the sheriff officers to bring in the local store owner in the morning.  In the morning, the judge said that his lawsuit was dismissed and he would be sentenced to seven years in jail for animal cruelty. On top of this, add five more years for bribery of the city police officers.

Under federal law of not allowing the customers with service dogs to stay in the business, the judge added another year. This brought a complaint and a question about his rights as business owner. The judge said that under the American Disabilities Act, customers could not be denied access with service dogs. Under the circumstances and your lawsuit, be satisfied I did not add several years to the total sentence, because I could add four years for each officer bribed.

In addition, there has been nothing said about you being sued for the damages done to the service dogs, so be prepared to pay for any damages. At that point, my friend was asked about the cost of replacing each dog and the judge ordered him to place that cost into an escrow fund with the court, plus an amount for the veterinary fees, plus the costs for the witnesses and court costs for the case you lost.

We had a joyous trip home. The store owner asked my friend how he came up with the trap for the dog hater. He said that he had not, but had been in the meeting with the judge when the trap was hatched. He said the judge had asked many questions to insure that this would not be entrapment. When it was suggested that two sheriff officers be present to prevent the city police from being involved, that was when the judge agreed. The judge was also happy that no one was accusing anyone, but felt the store owner needed to be tested.

My friend said that once the store owner showed his true self and the veterinary was allowed to see the dog held by the city and explain the injuries to the judge, that is when the whole scheme broke down.

1 comment:

David Mendosa said...

What a sad story with a wonderful conclusion, Bob. Thank you for all that you did and for sharing the story.