Court Calendar

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 2001:

Dog cases
A three-judge panel of the U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals
ruled 2-1 on October 11 that police officers may be held liable for
damages if they kill a stray dog who poses no danger to life or
property. The verdict reinstated a case filed by Kim and David Brown
of Reading, Pennsylvania, against Muhlenberg Township police
officer Robert D. Eberly, who on April 28, 1998 shot their
three-year-old Rottweiler as Kim Brown screamed “No!” The dog
wandered outside as the Browns moved furniture.

James Chiavetta, 54, of Barstow, California, on September
28 drew four years in prison for allowing a pair of pit bull mixes to
run loose. In April 2000 the dogs killed neighbor Cash Carson, 10.
Benjamin Moore, 28, Jacinda Knight, 33, and Albert
Malbrough Jr., 32, were indicted on August 31 for alleged cocaine
trafficking, in a case brought to police by tipsters after Moore’s
three pit bull terriers tore both ears off of neighbor Shawn Jones,
10, on June 18 in Richmond, California. The accused were arrested
after an August 15 stake-out at the scene of an alleged drug deal.

The New Hampshire Supreme Court ruled on October 12 that
convicted animal hoarder Bettina L. Burr, 56, must pay restitution
to the Cocheco Valley Humane Society for the care of 21 Sharpeis
found at her mobile home in 1998, along with 25 Sharpei carcasses,
but the court held that the restitution could only cover the cost of
rescuing, caring for, and finding homes for the dogs, not the
regular wages of staff.

A Wisconsin 4th District Court of Appeals panel on October 4
upheld the January 2000 dismissal of a defamation suit brought by
Animal Lobby founder Cindy Schultz against Milwaukee talk show host
Charles Sykes, the Journal Broadcast Group, and the Journal
Sentinel Inc. Schultz, now president of the Society of St. Francis,
alleged that Sykes et al ruined her career as a political organizer
by calling her a dog thief. Schultz was charged in May 1996 as an
accessory to stealing two allegedly abused dogs, but the case was
dropped due to lack of evidence. Circuit judge Francis Was-ielewski
in January 2000 threw out Schultz’ defamation suit after a witness
testified that Schultz tried to get him to lie–which she denies.
The defendants were allowed to garnish her husband’s wages to recover
legal fees.
Wildlife abroad

The Northern Cape (South Africa) Nature Conservation
Department has agreed to allow Kalahari Raptor Centre co-founders
Chris Mercer and Beverly Pervan to return to the wild the two healthy
caracals among three the department has tried to confiscate and kill
since October 2000, under the Problem Animal Control Ordinance of
1957. “The fate of the disabled female has yet to be decided by the
officials,” Mercer and Pervan said on October 15. Mercer and Pervan
described the case and their efforts to overturn the 1957 law in a
December 2000 ANIMAL PEOPLE guest column called “Apartheid and three
caracal kittens.” An update was included in “Animal activism erupts
in Africa,” ANIMAL PEOPLE, September 2001.

High Court of Andhra Pradesh chief justice S.B. Sinha and
justice V.V.S. Rao on August 7 rejected the claim of the Visakha SPCA
that the Indian Navy illegally dragged a decommissioned submarine
onto the turtle nesting beach at Visakhapatnam to create a war
memorial. Sinha and Rao based their verdict on a clipping from the
Indian Express (a third-hand source), which cited only statements
made at a press conference by one P. Sambandan (a second-hand
source), employed by the National Ship Design and Research
Centre–a party to the memorial project. Sambandan alleged that he
had been told by police that two low-ranking VSPCA employees were
caught burying sea turtle eggs near the submarine, to incriminate
the Indian Navy. Sinha and Rao presumed they were guilty, though no
mention was made either in the Indian Express article or the verdict
that the allegations were upheld. In fact, the VSPCA employees,
Pentaiah and Sathibathu, insist that they only reburied eggs which
were already present, to protect them from the sun, roving dogs,
jungle cats, and beach-goers–a routine part of their work. Either
way, as VSPCA founder Pradeep Kumar Nath noted, whatever they did
had no bearing on what the Indian Navy had already done. The VSPCA
is seeking funds to appeal, c/o #26-15-200, Main Road,
Visakhapatnam, 530-001, India; <>.
Vet fraud

Veterinary fraud cases were filed on August 28 by the
California Veterinary Medical Board against Robert Rooks, DVM,
director of the All-Care Animal Referral Center in Fountain Valley,
and on September 4 by the state of Nevada against Sam B. Ockene, 41,
a self-professed volunteer euthanasia technician associated with the
supposedly “no-kill” For the Love of Cats & Kittens in Sloan, near
Las Vegas.
Rooks allegedly employed Mike Wilt, identified in the
complaint as a “former heavy equipment operator with no veterinary
training,” as the All-Care director of surgery, and misrepresented
two other staffers, Linda Hall and Craig Bergstrom, as an internal
medicine specialist and a neurologist.
Former clients reportedly spent $21,000 and $10,000,
respectively, during three years of effort to initiate the
Ockene allegedly killed 210 cats and kittens for FLOCK
between August 4, 1998, and February 22, 2001. Nevada deputy
attorney general Matthew Dushoff said Ockene obtained medications
including euthanasia drugs from James Reilly, DVM, of Pahrump, who
in 1994 was beaten and left for dead by partner Alan Ruegamer, DVM.
Convicted in 1998 of attempted murder, Ruegamer was sentenced to
serve 12 years in prison.
Ockene was convicted in 1991 of embezzling from a casino. He
later worked for the Nevada SPCA, but was fired in 1996 for
illegally possessing euthanasia drugs, posing as a vet, and yelling
obscenities at visitors, Nevada SPCA president Janet Polombi told
Ryan Oliver of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “The society sued
Ockene and two others the following year,” Oliver wrote, “after it
alleged that Ockene named himself president of the organization,
solicited donations under its name, and then demanded that the
society turn over its bank accounts, animal shelter, cases and
vehicles to him.”
In 1997 the Nevada SPCA won a permanent injunction against
Ockene using its name, and Ockene was ordered to reimburse the
Nevada SPCA for $10,000 in legal fees.

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