From ANIMAL PEOPLE, November 1995:
Collector suits plague humane groups
LOS ANGELES––The July 3,
1993 seizure of nearly 100 animals from
alleged Los Angeles animal collectors Wayne
and Barbara Chronister continues to have
ramifications, as the Chronisters on July 30
of this year sued the Humane Task Force, the
Pet Assistance Foundation, Last Chance for
Animals, and 13 individual rescuers for purportedly
defaming them and illegally depriving
them of property.
At least one defendant, realtor
Carole Ellis, promptly countersued for
defamation and libel.
The rescue groups obtained warrants
and raided when the Los Angeles SPCA
and L.A. County Animal Control balked,
expecting complications. Greenbrae attorney
Larry Weiss, representing Ellis, cites the
case as a textbook example of legal problems
that arise in trying to prosecute collectors.
“Increasingly, collectors who have
been deprived of their animals are suing the
county that confiscated them or the individuals
or organizations who took part in the operation,”
Weiss wrote in the Summer 1995 edition
of CHAIN Newsletter. “On occasion
they have even been able to persuade a credulous
judge that they were indeed the victims
and not the perpetrators of a crime. At the
very least they continue to waste the time and
scant resources of humane organizations.”
Weiss’ rules for avoiding such
suits: “First, get a conviction for something.
A misdemeanor is fine, but at least get something
so you can put the defendant on probation.
Trust me, probation is your only ace-inthe-hole
with a collector. If you don’t get a
conviction, you are likely to be sued.
Second, include a stipulation, as part of any
plea bargain, that the defendant was the
owner of all the animals seized. If you don’t,
then sure as Fatal Plus is blue, the brother,
sister, or daughter is going to say ‘These
were my animals,’ and produce a manufactured
bill of sale to prove it. Third, contact
the district attorney and the probation officer
prior to sentencing and make sure intelligent
conditions of probation are recommended,”
including surrender of all claim to confiscated
animals; agreement that the defendant shall
pay impound costs; a pledge that the defendant
shall not threaten, abuse, annoy,
harass, or molest anyone involved in the
prosecution; and a pledge that the defendant
shall have no other contact with anyone
involved in the case.
As if to further underscore Weiss’
points, Thomas Horvath, 46, of Matteson,
Illinois, on October 17 sued the city for condemning
his house on July 7 and seizing 31
cats from the allegedly feces-filled premises.
Horvath claims 15 of the cats belonged to his
sister in Arkansas.
John and Laurine Dimino of New
York City have sued the American SPCA
for $1,450,000 for allegedly euthanizing their
21-month-old Siberian husky in November
1994 without offering them a reclaim opportunity.
The suit charges that, “The ASPCA’s
Staten Island facility and Brooklyn shelter,
where the ASPCA transported the dog from
Staten Island, were both closed to the public
for the entire time that the dog was there.”
Private no-kill shelter operator
Pat Klimo of Ringwood, Illinois, on
October 18 won more time to relocate the 80
animals she has at her home. Klimo was
cited on May 13, 1994, for running an “animal
care shelter” illegally in an area which
does permit the maintenance of private kennels.
Klimo was to have moved all the animals
by October 2, but McHenry County
judge Gerald Zopp said he’ll need until
November 28 to determine if the order is