This case is being heard in the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York in the Fourth Department. The case involves the People of the State of New York as the respondents and Laurie Jornov as an appellant. Philip Mueller is a respondent in the case as well.
The defendant is appealing an order that was made by the City Court that affirmed a judgment to have her two dogs euthanized.
On the 17th of February in 2008, Phillip Mueller was out walking his dog, a German Shepard named Maggie, when they were attacked by two dogs that were pit bull-terrier mixes. The two dogs injured both Maggie and Phillip. The dogs are owned by the defendant and they were not on leashes at the time of the attack.
According to Phillip’s testimony in the previous court, the dogs were not on leashes, were not controlled by anyone, and ran towards them and attacked Maggie in tandem. One of dogs would bite Maggie and when Phillip freed her the other dog would attack her from the other side. Mueller was bitten on the leg and fell on the ice during the struggle. He eventually made it to his car with Maggie. He called the police and a dangerous dog complaint was issued.
At the City Court hearing there was evidence submitted to the court that showed a prior incident involving the two dogs that occurred in June of 2007. In this incident the dogs barked and lunged at a person who was leaving work. The next day the two dogs killed a kitten in a parking lot while they were on a walk with the defendant and her grandson. Additionally, there was a case in September of 2006 presented that showed the defendant’s dogs had attacked her neighbor’s dogs. These incidents were all reported to the police, but the case entered by the Mr. Mueller is the first one that included a dangerous dog proceeding under section 121 of the Agriculture and Markets Law.
The City Court determined that the dogs of the defendant are dangerous and made the order to have them euthanized.
Court Discussion and Verdict
The Agriculture and Markets Laws have been updated and include three aggravating circumstances that must be met for a court to order the euthanasia of an animal. The first circumstance states that the dog must unjustifiably attack a person causing serious harm or iinjury. The second circumstance is that the dog must have a history of unjustified attacks on a person. The third circumstance states that the dog has caused a serious physical injury or death to a companion animal, farm animal, or other domestic animal.
This case is rather complicated as there are loopholes in the law that deprives the court of the discretion to determine whether human euthanasia is appropriate. While there is evidence in this case that the dogs did cause serious injury to another dog, killed a kitten, and injured a human, none of the three aggravating circumstances is in existence to the extent of the law.
After reviewing all of the facts in this case, we believe that the order for human euthanasia should be vacated. The case will be returned to the City Court for further proceeding in regard to section 121 of the Agriculture and Market Law.
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