Thursday, October 2, 2014

West Virginia Justices Save Dog From Execution; Dissent Remembers Faithful "Bozo"

A death sentence imposed upon a dog was reversed by the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals.

The story

On March 6, 2013, Bluefield Animal Control Officer Randall Thompson responded to a complaint about two dogs at Ms. Robinson’s residence. The complaint stated that one dog was running at large and that a second dog had inadequate shelter.

While investigating the complaint at Ms. Robinson’s residence, Officer Thompson was attacked by one of Ms. Robinson’s dogs, Major. Major was “tied-up” when Officer Thompson arrived at the residence. While Officer Thompson was talking to Ms. Robinson, Major broke free from the chain and bit Officer Thompson on both of his hands. Officer Thompson sought medical treatment following this incident.

A death order can only be imposed on

satisfactory proof that the dog is “vicious, dangerous, or in the habit of biting or attacking other persons or other dogs or animals” [that] must be presented before a circuit court or a magistrate.

The proof here did not meet that standard.

 Justice Loughry favored death to the dog

In complete disregard of the unfortunate truth that not all dogs are like the beloved Lassie, a vicious dog has been granted a pardon by the highest court of this State. Indeed, the majority of this Court has seemingly turned a blind eye to the fact that the dog in question  broke free of its chain and engaged in a brutal and unprovoked attack upon an experienced humane officer, whose resultant injuries required surgery and a hospitalization that approximated five days.

The majority also seems to disregard the fact that the dog’s owner pled guilty to owning and keeping an animal known by her to be vicious, dangerous, and in the habit of biting persons in violation of Bluefield City Ordinance § 4-49. While I, too, love animals, and have fond memories of my childhood companion and faithful dog, “Bozo,” my affinity does not blind me to the sad reality that some dogs are dangerous and vicious, and inflict serious injuries, and even death, on innocent victims

The pardoned dog is a pit bull terrier. (Mike Frisch)

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