Longmont Humane Society convicted of possession of a dangerous dog
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, November/December 2013:
LONGMONT, Colorado––Longmont Humane Society executive
director Liz Smokowski on December 12, 2013 pleaded guilty on behalf of
the society to misdemeanor possession of a dangerous dog––a pit bull
with prior aggressive history––and paid $900.52 in restitution for
injuries the dog caused in a June 2013 attack after escaping from a
The pit bull “attacked a leashed Weimaraner,” reported
Pierrette J. Shields of the Longmont Times-Call. “The man walking the
Weimaraner intervened, and the pit bull reportedly turned and bit him on
the hand. Animal control officers ticketed the humane society after
researching the dog’s history and finding that he had a documented
record of aggression with other dogs and people in Mesa County.”
The pit bull was surrendered to the Longmont Humane Society by
“A Boulder County judge ordered society officials to complete
a restorative justice program with members of Longmont animal control
and gave the organization a 12-month deferred sentence, which means if
it does not violate any laws in that time, the misdemeanor conviction
will be dismissed,” Shields added.
The unusual prosecution may reflect growing law enforcement
frustration with animal shelters and rescues that recycle dangerous dogs
back to the public, often after only cursory retraining and a name
change. The dog in the Longmont case was fostered out after only four
days at the shelter.
Fatal and disfiguring attacks by pit bulls from U.S. shelters
and rescues have increased from none in the first 90 years of the 20th
century to 49 since 2010, along with 19 fatal and disfiguring attacks
by other shelter dogs, mostly Rottweilers and bull mastiffs.
Altogether, at least 31 U.S. shelter dogs have participated in killing
people since 2010, whereas the only dogs rehomed from U.S. shelters to
kill anyone, ever, before 2000 were two wolf hybrids in 1988 and 1989.
The Longmont case followed a series of verdicts that have
rapidly increased the precedents for high liability awards in dog attack
• A nine-year-old girl in Fairfield, Pennsylvania, on
November 5, 2013 received a settlement of $287,650 as a structured
annuity to be paid during her college years, after a pit bull bit off
part of her nose in April 2011. Her nose was reattached and other
restorative surgery performed in a year-long series of frequent
• Jeffery O’Leary, 48, of Manalapan, New Jersey, was on
November 1, 2013 awarded $650,000 for injuries to his face and forearm
suffered in an attack by a neighbor’s Rottweiler.
• The Florida law firm Dell & Schaefer announced receiving a
$550,000 settlement on behalf of a Pasco County resident who suffered
severe head injuries after falling while trying to rescue his leashed
dog from a neighbor’s loose pit bull.
• Georgia State Judge William P. Adams of Bibb County on July
29, 2013 awarded $350,000 to retired postal worker Jack “Sonny”
Henderson, who was mauled by two pit bulls while jogging in 2011.
• Circuit Judge Diane E. Winter of Lake County, Illinois on
July 29, 2013 approved a $1.125 million settlement on behalf of a
17-year-old boy who was severely mauled by an escaped bull mastiff while
bicycling in June 2011.