A lawsuit filed by Mississippi pet owner Deborah K. Alverson alleges that on March 26, 2013, her two dogs were sunbathing in her yard. The dogs were China, an 8 year old pug with some vision and hearing problems, and Black Betty, a 4 year old puggle with severe hip dysplasia. Both dogs were receiving regular vet care. A Harrison Co ACO, operating under the sheriff’s office, questioned Ms. Alverson’s neighbor about the dogs and was told they were not being neglected. The ACO seized the dogs without a court order and brought them to the Humane Society of South Mississippi. He charged Ms. Alverson with animal cruelty. She immediately tried to get her dogs back, without success:
Alverson was not allowed to retrieve them and tried to request an emergency hearing in Justice Court, but allegedly was unable to have a hearing because the officer failed to turn in the paperwork on the seizure.
Alverson complained to sheriff’s officials but was told the officer’s actions were proper. Alverson believes the charges were filed against her in retaliation.
The lawsuit goes on to allege that China died in the care of the Humane Society of South Mississippi, that Ms. Alverson was not informed of the death in a timely manner and that she was refused permission to take China’s body home with her. The charges against Ms. Alverson were dismissed for lack of evidence several months later.
Ms. Alverson filed a civil rights suit in December against the Harrison County Board of Supervisors, Sheriff Melvin Brisolara and the ACO, who reportedly has since left the sheriff’s office.
Alverson alleges she was not afforded due process and was the victim of malicious prosecution under color of law.
Some details of the case are unclear and I do not know if the owner ever got the surviving dog back. The article in the Sun Herald rightly points out:
A lawsuit represents only one side of a complaint.
In this case, it represents Ms. Alverson’s version of events. I searched the internet in an effort to find the other side of the story but failed to find any mention of the original case online. I also contacted the Harrison Co board clerk to ask if the board had yet responded to the lawsuit. As of this posting, I haven’t received a reply. If the lawsuit proceeds in the courts, I imagine the Sun Herald will report on it. Let’s keep our eyes open.
(Thanks Clarice for the link.)