Padi the Labrador is free forever!
It’s a Merry Christmas indeed for the Labrador, his family, and the thousands of people who supported him in his fight.
Judge Andrew Owens has declared the Florida law that requires dogs that cause severe injury to people be euthanized unconstitutional – freeing Labrador mix Padi from euthanasia.
On June 4 this year, the 4-year-old male Labrador mix bit a boy’s ear when the child and his babysitter were visiting the dog’s owner, Dr. Paul Gartenberg, at the Pet Clinic in Bradenton.
Everyone agreed that the Labrador had retreated into a corner in an office to get away from the boy – but the child followed. Accounts differ on whether the youngster lunged at Padi or if Padi lunged at the child first.
Because the child’s injury required stitches and may need reconstructive surgery, it was considered severe and Florida Statute 767 kicked in mandating that Padi be euthanized.
After half a year, the final decision was released on Monday and Judge Owens declared the law unconstitutional since it does not fulfill the intent of the statute and is “arbitrary and unduly oppressive.”
Judge Owens wrote:
“(The statute) results in an unconstitutional delegation of discretion in animal control authorities insofar as the statute provides animal control authorities no guided authority to select the severity of consequences for a dog’s actions.”
In his judgement Owens said that the Legislature that enacted the law intended it to protect people from “unprovoked attacks.”
Under the dangerous dog law, owners of dogs who are going to be declared dangerous have a chance to contest this by proving that the accused dog was acting in his own defense or that of a human. But dogs who have not been declared dangerous and cause a severe injury with one bite, like Padi, have no right to contest euthanasia based on the same grounds under current law.
“The Court finds it illogical and inconsistent that an owner of a dog facing a dangerous dog investigation and classification under (the dangerous dog law) may assert certain defenses such as provocation, defense of a family member or person from an unjustified attack, but an owner of a dog subjected to the provisions of (the severe dog bite statute) enjoys no such defenses, notwithstanding the statute’s constitutional validity, to prevent that statutory mandated execution of their dog,” the judge wrote.
On Thursday, Chief Assistant Manatee County Attorney Robert Eschenfelder directed Robert Smith, the county’s public safety director, to close the Padi case.
“Please instruct the Animal Services staff to no longer enforce the statute, and to close any pending case files in which the statute has been cited as having been violated,” Eschenfelder said in an email.
Dr. Gartenberg and his family are beyond overjoyed. Thestaff at Gartenberg’s clinic said Padi’s owner couldn’t talk at the moment but he was “ecstatic” and “very happy” with the news.
Rep. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, sponsored legislation following the Labrador mix’s case to change the severe dog bite law. Under the bill, dogs who cause severe injuries will be required to have a hearing where they can address the circumstances of the bite – including provocation or defense of humans.So far, it has received unanimous support from two committees.
Finally, Padi is free forever!
Source: Bradenton Herald