Last updateFri, 04 Jul 2014 5pm

Grant County, WA

Breed Specific Legislation Challenge Filed in Grant County, WA

A complaint was filed in Grant County, Washington, challenging Breed Specific Legislation there. The complaint, filed on behalf of Nicholas Criscuolo, can be read in its entirety here. Newspaper coverage can be read here. Filed by animal law attorney, Adam Karp, the complaint alleges violations of § 1983 based on the fact that the ownership of an animal is a fundamental right protected under the state and federal constitution.

The complaint centers on an incident that ocurred on January 24, 2010, at which time Criscuolo owned two dogs, Slyder and Dymond, which he let run off leash at Neppel Park. The complaint alleges that at the same time nearby, there was a traffic stop in which a drug sniffing dog named Maddox was involved. Criscuolo saw the police dog, and yelled to the police officers to keep the dog in their vehicle until he could leash his dogs. He got Dymond leashed, but Slyder ran toward Maddox in greeting. Maddox was an unneutered male and overreacted to the greeting. Slyder ran back to his owner but the officer blocked Slyder's return, eventually shooting Slyder three times resulting in his death. There was no evidence of injury to Maddox and third party witnesses agreed that Slyder presented no threat when shot.

Apparently, the city declared Dymond hazardous because the chief of police deemed her part pit bull. There is no definition or policy that defines how such a determination is made and what constitutes "part pit bull." There is no opportunity given to the owner to challenge the determination, a denial of due process. There are also individual claims made on the basis of the shooting of Slyder.

It is a beautifully detailed complaint, and we will be following this case as Grant County defends. It does seem a denial of due process, however, to have no definition of pit bull and no opportunity to challenge what appears to be a totally discretionary and subjective decision.

Kudos to Adam Karp and good luck!

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