Animal Law

Town to pay $51K to settle federal suit over police shooting of dog

A small town in Washington state has agreed to pay at least $51,000 to settle a federal civil rights lawsuit over the death of a 115-pound dog shot to death by police.

A neighbor, concerned about the well-being of Rosie, a Newfoundland, called Des Moines police after the friendly pet apparently escaped from the yard of Charles and Dierdre Wright while the family was on vacation, the Seattle Times reports.

However, police chased the animal for blocks and eventually shot her to death with a high-powered rifle after she took refuge in a stranger’s yard, according to the lawsuit filed by the couple last year in federal court for the Western District of Washington. Although a departmental investigation determined that the officers were justified in shooting the barking dog, the community was outraged and many, including the city’s mayor and police chief, reportedly attended a vigil for Rosie.

Attorney Adam Karp represents the Wrights. He tells the newspaper the $51,000 settlement is the largest ever agreed to in the state in an animal-related case. The couple is seeking an additional $90,000 in attorney and investigative fees, he says.

“I think it’s an exceptional award,” said Karp, who focuses his practice on animal rights.

As an earlier post details, the couple’s civil rights suit argues that the police conduct at issue violated the Wrights’ constitutional right, under the Fourth Amendment, to be secure in their persons and effects.

Attorney Shannon Ragonesi of Keating Bucklin & McCormack represents the city. She could not be reached by the Times for comment.

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