Last updateFri, 04 Jul 2014 5pm

BSL Litigation

Lakewood, OH

Complaint Filed Challenging
 BSL Against
City of Lakewood, OH 

A thirty page complaint was filed in Federal Court against the City of Lakewood, Ohio, alleging that the Breed Specific Legislation in the City Ordinance is unconstitutional. The full complaint for those of you legally inclined can be read here. The complaint asks for declaratory, injunctive relief and § 1983 damages.

The case is Tarquinio v. City of Lakewood, and was filed by Kristi L. Haude. It would seem that she is related to Dan Haude, who filed Smith v. Toledo, which resulted in that city re-writing BSL out of their Dangerous Dog ordinance.

The case alleges that Chapter 506 of the Lakewood City Ordinance is unconstitutional both procedurally and substantively, violates due process, is vague, and that Plaintiffs have been damaged as a result of the enforcement of an unconstitutional ordinance. It also alleges that the ordinance violates the Home Rule doctrine of the Ohio Constitution.

It seems to me that this suit is following the blueprint of Smith v. Toledo, as well it should since that case was sucessful. One of the weak points in the Lakewood ordinance, is that it allows the Director of Public Safety to make a pit bull classfication "with or without a hearing." In addition, if an owner wants to challenge the classification of the dog as a pit bull, the burden of proof is on the owner. The complaint alleges that Lakewood's policy is not to inform that they can ask for a hearing, and there is no rhyme or reason why a hearing may be granted or denied.

I will be following this case closely. Ms. Haude has done a great job with the initial pleadings in her complaint.

Follow this story and all Pit Bull related legal news by joining our facebook page.


Denver Resident Tells of Pit Bull Taken At Gunpoint

Letter to Denver County Attorney
Describes Innocent Pit Bull Taken At Gunpoint

The following is the full text of a letter written to Denver County attorney Kelley, describing the brutal tactics of Denver Animal Control, including drawing guns and handcuffing the owner.  Need to renew your enthusiasm as an advocate against BSL?  Read on.

Dear Mr. Kelley,
I am writing to you in hopes that you will read this sincere and heartfelt message. I appreciate your time in advance. I have a story, and a few ideas that I would like to share with you. I encourage you to contact me at any time, and look forward to speaking with you. 
In 2002, I was going through a painful divorce, and also a big move from Texas to Colorado. My job with the military required the transition, and rather than move to Aurora, where Buckley Air Base is stationed, I chose to move to Denver. I wanted to be near an exciting, dynamic city. I signed a lease, moved in to a great house in the Baker District, and everything seemed to be looking up. I had lived in Denver just 3 days and was walking my dogs along the waterfront on Jason St, when a white van jumped the curb and came screaming across the park at a high rate of speed. I was in the process of bagging dog poo, and began looking for a place to scramble to....I assumed that the van was in the midst of a police chase or something equally terrible. I was in the open, and there was nowhere to run!
The van screeched to a stop near me, and two officers jumped out. One officer looked young and "rookie-ish". He never said anything, just looked concerned. The other officer, who I believe was named Lopez or Martinez (he never identified himself), began screaming, "Are you going to comply?!" He did this several times. I tried to stay calm and repeatedly asked him what was wrong. He screamed at me, "Ignorance is no excuse, lady!". He then told me that if I didn't comply, he would have me thrown in jail and by the time I got out, all three of my dogs would be dead. He still had never identified himself, what he wanted, or what I was not complying with. He called the DPD, and 2 cars showed up almost instantly. I was thrown on the ground, and held at gunpoint while the DMAS officer ripped the leashes out of my hand. He then let my 18 year old beagle and my 3 legged beagle/dachshund mix go - they were terrified and ran in large arcs around us, through the park, into traffic.... He put Lumpy on a rabies pole, and dragged her, cowering, into a van. He then sped away. In the background, the very nice geriatric German woman I had been talking to earlier was yelling, "What is this, the F-ing Gestapo??! Leave her alone!". It was a fitting analysis of the situation. 
I was placed into a police car, where I begged them to just explain to me what was happening, and to allow me to gather my two other dogs. Only then was I told that I was "harboring a dangerous animal". I still didn't understand....Lumpy is a certified therapy dog and an AKC Canine Good Citizen. She hadn't bitten anyone, she had never harmed a soul. Only later did I find out that by "dangerous animal", they were referring to entire breeds of dog, or anything that even looked remotely like any of these breeds. When I went to court, the judge asked me where "the animal" was at this time. When I told him that she was in Oregon, he stated, "I'm only sorry that my jurisdiction doesn't extend to Oregon. I would have her put down there.". That is justice? That is fair and equitable? What was my crime? The whole time all I could think is....I have served my country, given everything I have to the US. I volunteer. I donate. I protect. Who is protecting me? Who is protecting my rights and interests? 
I am under the assumption that you are a reasonable man. That you have typical human emotions. That you love animals, or you would not dedicate your life to them. That you know the acts of your department that day were wrong and unconscionable. I was treated like the worst of criminals, but had perpetuated no crime other than owning a well-trained, well-behaved, spayed, microchipped, vaccinated and otherwise lovely dog. This same dog who was fought, abused, betrayed by humanity....and who learned to love and forgive us all for our inhumane treatment of her. 
I would love for you to meet my beautiful brindle girl. She is truly generous of spirit, and an ambassador for her breed. We should all be so lucky to have one love in our life like Lumpy. She lives and breathes for me, and I work hard to never betray her deep trust. 
I understand that you have a job to do, and that you must uphold the laws as they are written. I am not here to crucify you, and I do not hold you to blame. I am pleading with you to help us enact better laws. To protect more people....but in a reasonable and sane way. To help us protect the innocent, man and dog alike. 
Please do the research...there are laws that are more effective, and that hold the owners responsible for their dog's behavior. Let’s band together to stop this at the source. We must stop slapping the humans on the hand and killing the dogs - they did not choose their fate. Lets use our valuable time, funds, and resources to enforce the spay/neuter and animal licensing ordinances. As you know, spaying and neutering will reduce aggression in all animals. Reducing the numbers of unwanted litters and backyard breeders will reduce the work load on all animal organizations. How is it that there are literally pages and pages of puppies for sale in the local papers? I sincerely doubt that even 25% of the parents of those litters are licensed. From a stricly business perspective, there is a lot of missed revenue there - but a huge added burden on our already overworked animal care divisions. What about temperament testing? Responsible owners will gladly submit a small to moderate fee for temperament testing of their dogs for suitability. This is also a source of revenue which could be used to offset reduced cost spay/neuter clinics. There are creative solutions to be implemented... 
We are not enemies, and we have good ideas to be shared. Please schedule a peaceful meeting or forum for the various rescue groups to share their ideas with your organizations. Together, we can find a solution to this issue that will not include genocide.  
Thank you for your time, Sir.


Arnold v. City of Denver Settled

Denver Still Allegedly Using Stormtroop Tactics
To Pick Up Pit Bulls

Ms. Dias' group "The Pit Bull Band" was also involved in the case of Arnold v. The City of Denver. The Complaint, a must read, alleges stormtroop gestapo like tactics used by Denver Animal Control to round up pit bulls and can be read here. Denver animal control, the complaint says, is picking up pit bulls guilty of nothing but looking like the breed with guns drawn, threats of breaking down the front door, threatening messages left on the phone, and entry without a search warrant. It's all there, and more. This is America?  This is a the land of the free?  Sounds more like the Gestapo to me. These dogs have not even done anything. The discussion on the radio show about the case can be heard at the link below:

Arnold came about because at the time it was filed, it was not known how the Tenth Circuit would rule in the Dias case, so a decision was made to challenge the practices and policies of Denver Animal Control in picking up, identifying and litigating pit bull issues. The Arnold case was settled, with an agreement being reached to make Denver have fairer practices and procedures.  I have not seen the agreement, but Ms. Dias alleges that Denver has not implemented all of the agreed upon practices. The only way to enforce the settlement agreement, is to file yet another lawsuit.  We will be watching this as it unfolds and reporting as facts become available.


Dias v. City of Denver Settled

Sonya Dias Announces Settlement on PBLN Radio

Last night on PBLN Radio, Sonya Dias announced that the landmark case of Dias v. City of Denver had settled.  You can listen the show at the link below.

It was a bittersweet announcement, because the case was settled midway through the legal process, before a trial on the merits.  It had taken five years to get to the point that a trial could even take place, and based on the resources available and the prospect of several more years of litigation, a decision was made to settle and leave intact the Tenth Circuit's opinion that held there was a triable question of fact as to whether Denver's BSL had a rational basis to public safety.  So while the case did not result in overturning BSL in Denver, it remains the only case in the country where a court has ruled that BSL may be challenged under the rational basis test.


Denver, CO

Denver, CO

Dias v. City of Denver

Pleadings - Motion For Summary Judgment - Denied

After the Dias Motion to Dismiss was reversed and sent back to the trial court, the first thing the City did was file a Motion for Summary Judgment.  It was their contention that there was no factual issue as to whether the ban was rationally related to public safety.  If the judge agreed, the case would be over and there would be no need to have a trial.  The Motion filed by the City, together with attachments can read in their entirety at the links below.

When filing a Motion for Summary Judgment, the factual basis for the Motion must be attached.  The City's entire argument rests on the opinion of Alan M. Beck. I urge you to read his opinions below in their entirety. In my opinion, he misrepresents the science and research currently available regarding BSL.

City of Denver Motion to Summary Judgment

Exhibit A1 - Affidavit of Alan M. Beck
Exhibit A2 - Report of Alan M. Beck
Exhibit A3 - Report of Alan M. Beck 2
Exhibit A4 - Deposition of Randall Lockwood
Exhibit A5 - Deposition of Plaintiff Engel
Exhibit A6 - Deposition of Plaintiff Dias
Exhibit A7 - Deposition of Alan M. Beck
Exhibit A9 - Colorado Dog Fanciers Court Opinion
Exhibit A10 - Denver Ordinance
Exhibit A11 - Egelhoff Court Opinion
Exhibit A12 - Egelhoff transcript of hearing
Exhibit A13 - American Canine v. City of Aurora Decision

Dias responded to the City's Motion for Summary Judgment, and the Motion and Exhibits attached to that motion are set out below. As can be seen, there are numerous experts in various scientific fields that testify that BSL is unfair and ineffective.  Again, I urge you to read the exhibits to get an idea of the current state of science regarding BSL.

Dias Response to City of Denver Motion for Summary Judgment

Exhibit 2 - Report Randall Lockwood
Exhibit 4 - Report Karen Overall, MA, VMD, PHD
Exhibit 6 - Report David L. Banks, PHD
Exhibit 8 - Deposition of Douglas Kelley
Exhibit 9 - Deposition of Randall Lockwood
Exhibit 10 - Deposition of Karen Overall, MA, VMD, PHD
Exhibit 11 - Deposition of David L. Banks
Exhibit 12 - Deposition of Bonnie Beaver
Exhibit 13 - Denver Ordinance Breed Standards
Exhibit 14 - Affidavit Plaintiff Dias
Exhibit 15 - Deposition of Alan M. Beck
Exhibit 16 - CDC Dog Bite Fact Sheet
Exhibit 17 - Deposition Plaintiff Dias
Exhibit 18 - Report Breed Ban Italy and the Netherlands
Exhibit 19 - Mars Insights DNA Testing Results
Exhibit 21 - Bahamas Report on Pit Bull Attacks
Exhibit 22 - Delta Society Statement
Exhibit 23 - Bonnie Beaver CV
Exhibit A3 - Report Alan M. Beck
Exhibit A5 - Deposition Plaintiff Engel

The court ultimately ruled against the City of Denver, the order is at the link below.

Order Denying City of Denver Motion for Summary Judgment

The case will now go to a jury trial when the Court sets a date.