Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Old Florida law faces new debate

In Florida, as in many other states, it remains legal for a landowner to shoot wandering dogs that are said to be "worrying" the livestock. But if the dogs' owner and friend are running into the field, leash in hand and screaming "no no no" as the rancher is about to shoot, is still ok to pull the trigger?

The rancher says yes. Animal law attorney Jennifer Dietz and the owner's new civil suit say no. Read more in this Pet Pulse article by Victoria Lim.

-----
UPDATE from Jennifer Dietz: She writes "Notably, Comins is not a rancher, not an owner of cattle, and not the owner of the land where the shootings took place. He was merely a passer-by who happened to have two high caliber guns in his car."

3 comments:

Jennifer A. Dietz said...

Ms. Breyer- Thank you for you mention of this case involving my clients two dogs who were shot seven times by Chris Comins. Notably, Comins is not a rancher, not an owner of cattle, and not the owner of the land where the shootings took place. He was merely a passer-by who happened to have two high caliber guns in his car. Thank you. Jennifer A. Dietz

Richard Troell said...

As an attorney who grew up on and around ranches and livestock operations, I have had to shoot free roaming dogs to protect livestock on more than one occassion. Rarely were they "hunting dogs" as the owners of hunting dogs usually kept their animals properly penned. Usually they were "pets." I always regretted killing these "pets" because they were just doing what God had pre-programmed them to do, "hunt" by chasing livestock. Cow dogs have this innate behavior modified by breeding and training so that they do not spook the animals they are moving, they do not run the animals. "Pets" do not and cannot understand that their "game" of chasing the animals can kill or injure the animals once spooked and they can and will carry the "game" to the point of injuring the livestock which are the victims of the dogs.

Even dogs which cannot possibly physically bring down a cow can nevertheless run cattle, sheep or goats to death. I have seen it, and an animal being run to death by a loose pet dog is a more inhumane death than a dog destroyed with a proper shot. This includes a dog I saw which ran a calf to death before I could shoot the dog, a dog which the "owner" later claimed would "never hurt a flea." My sorrow was that these "owners," who are too dim-witted to be allowed to own animals, got their pets killed by their own act of a type of cruelty by not keeping the animals properly penned or leashed. I regretted that I had to destroy a pet all because the owner was too sorry of an individual to properly care for their animal.

As to the Orange County Florida case, I may not be as sympathetic to Mr. Comins if he truly was just a "passer-by." I am not certain that the exception to animal cruelty under F.S. 767.03 applies to Mr. Comins unless he was an owner, or the employee of the owner, of the livestock. I also have a huge problem with the fact the man was not able to destroy the animal with one or two shots at the most, as I have trouble beleiving that he is that bad of a shot and I cannot help but to concede that shooting the dogs three and four times each, with out causing their death, was inhumane in and of itself. However, even if Mr. Comins was a mere "passer-by," not only should he be charged, but the dogs owners should be charged with animal cruelty as well or, at the very least, with violating the
Orange County Animal Control Ordinance.

When you own dogs you should have the responsibility of understanding the animal you own and protecting both your animal from its own innate traits and protecting neighbors and their property (livestock are property) from the damage which a dog can do.

Zachary said...

Mr. Troell , I just have a few questions for you. Out of all of the years that you lived beside or around a ranch did you see cattle escape from the owners pasture ? Because I live next to a 16,000 acre ranch and see them escape frequently, not only the ranch but the land owners around me have cattle escape. Do you believe these people to be too dim-witted to be allowed to own animals as well? Are they too sorry of an individual to properly care for their animals? Also should these owners be charged with animal cruelty? Should the surrounding landowners be able to shoot these animals in fear of personal injury or property damage? Mistakes do happen and when you have animals they are going to escape from there boundry's at times. Just another view from the other side.