Dog law updates

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, November 2002:

Dog attacks

Police in Melbourne, Australia, confirmed on September 6
that a charge of reckless conduct would be brought against a
defendant believed to be alleged illegal marijuana grower Debra Susan
Marks, 39, of Moe, for the February 1999 fatal mauling of her
former landlord, Holocaust survivor Leon Tarasinski, 75. Director
of public prosecutions Paul Coghlan recommended the charge in April
2002, after a three-year campaign by Tarsinski’s widow Shelley, 62,
and the Crime Victims Support Association. The prosecution will be
the first attempt in Victoria state to win a criminal conviction for
a fatal dog attack, and the second attempt anywhere in Australia.
Giovanni Pacino, 35, of Western Australia, was convicted of
manslaughter in 1998 after his Rottweilers killed neighbor Perina
Chokolich, 85, but his conviction was reversed on appeal.

Christine Anderson, 20, of Omaha, Nebraska, on September
5 pleaded no contest to misdemeanor child abuse for failing to
protect her 15-month-old son from a pit bull terrier kept by a former
boyfriend. “Anderson has said she was sleeping off a methadrine
binge on October 11, 2001,” wrote Karyn Spender of the Omaha
World-Herald, while the dog “tore off and ate the bulk of the boy’s
genitals.” Charges of harboring a dangerous animal and maintaining a
nuisance–a house filled with feces–were dropped as part of a plea
bargain. The child has been in foster care since the attack.
Dog-owning

A jury in Curry County, Oregon, on September 16 recommended
an award of $135,000 against the estate of Jerry Whitman, who died
in March 2002, for allegedly poisoning four dogs belonging to Joe
and Delores Ingwerson and their daughter Sarah Ege. Whitman
purportedly killed two dogs in 1995 and two more in 2000 because
their barking disturbed him. Portland animal law specialist attorney
Geordie Duckler told Wendy Owen of the Portland Oregonian that the
highest previous award in such a case in Oregon was about $25,000.
Laporte Superior Court Judge Steven King on September 24
ordered the Michiana Humane Society, of Michigan City, Indiana, to
return to Stephen Moore a six-month-old pit bull terrier that he
reported stolen on July 31. The dog came to the humane society as a
stray two weeks later, bearing alleged fighting scars. Accepting
that the injuries might have been suffered while the dog was missing,
Judge King also refused to allow the humane society an order to
temporarily supervise the post-return care of the dog. The verdict
followed many other recent rulings by various courts against the
traditional but never legally well-supported exercise of discretion
by humane societies in returning pets to allegedly abusive or
negligent owners. The weight of judicial opinion holds that an
animal may be held forfeit only if voluntarily surrendered, or if
the surrender of the animal is part of the penalty for a convicted
offense.

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