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Animal Welfare Groups File Court Brief Against Emotional Damages For Pet Owners Whose Dog Was Intentionally And Unlawfully Shot

Today, nine national and local groups who claim to “promote animal welfare” have filed a brief with the Maryland Court of Special Appeals arguing that pet owners should not be able to seek any form of emotional damages when someone unlawfully and intentionally harms or kills their pet.

Signatories to the anti-animal welfare brief include the following: American Kennel Club Cat Fanciers’ Association, Animal Health Institute, American Veterinary Medical Association, National Animal Interest Alliance, American Pet Products Association, American Animal Hospital Association, Pet Industry Joint and Advisory Council, and Maryland Veterinary Medical Association. A copy of the brief is available upon request.

The brief was filed in a case in which a police officer was caught on video intentionally shooting a chocolate Labrador Retriever in a family’s front yard. The video of the shooting can be found here:,0,7588027.story Further details of the shooting and case can be found here: After viewing the video and finding that the shooting was intentional and unlawful, the jury awarded $620,000 to the family of the grievously-injured dog on April 2, 2012. This figure is believed to be the highest ever awarded to a pet owner for injury to a pet. The defense appealed and today’s brief was filed in support of the shooter.

The case was tried for the pet owners by Cary J. Hansel and Rebekah Lusk. Mr. Hansel had this to say about today’s filing: “It is an outrageous irony that groups claiming to promote animal welfare would file this brief. The award has nothing to do with honest mistakes by veterinarians attempting to treat animals. This case involves intentional misconduct – the purposeful unjustified shooting of a defenseless pet Labrador in her own yard. Yet, certain misguided members of the veterinary and animal welfare community are saying that even the worst purposeful animal abuse should never lead to emotional damages for pet owners. We call on the membership and donors of these associations to contact their leadership and demand that the brief be withdrawn. For our part, the family and their lawyers will fight to secure the rights of pet owners and the welfare of our animal family members.” Ms. Lusk added that, “These organizations are completely out of touch with their members. Every pet owner knows that a pet is part of the family and not just property.”

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