San Antonio seems determined to lose its "dog friendly" designation. A protest is planned January 18 to support a Golden Retriever mix named Buddy, who is currently on trial for his life in the Alamo city. Dog bite cases that come to court in San Antonio are always complicated, but this one is a doozie. The judge in the case ordered Buddy killed for injuring a girl; while at the same time an appeal by Buddy's owners to stay his killing was in process. Of course the judge's order to kill Buddy would have made the appeal moot. But late Friday, in the nick of time, the city agreed to a stay of execution. Buddy will not be killed before all appeals are exhausted. Some cynics think the change of heart was due to a recent petition to save Buddy that gathered 1,000 signatures in 24 hours.
Buddy lived a peaceful life with his elderly owners and passed his day with regular walks and watching television until November 1st, 2013. On that day, Buddy reacted to nine year old girl, who may have screamed in his face, by either scratching or biting the girl. How the injury occurred and the severity of the injury is in dispute. (The law in this case allows no exemption for Buddy being provoked.) The owner claims to have been holding Buddy's leash and says Buddy reacted by jumping and the girl was scratched as a result. The mother of the girl says the leash was not being held, that her daughter did not scream in Buddy's face, and that her daughter was bitten. There was one witness other than the families involved. That witness disputed the mother's account and agreed with Buddy's owner as to what happened.
Also in dispute is if Buddy caused serious bodily injury. Per the statute, "Serious bodily injury" means an injury characterized by severe bite wounds or severe ripping and tearing of muscle that would cause a reasonably prudent person to seek treatment from a medical professional and would require hospitalization without regard to whether the person actually sought medical treatment."
The medical evidence presented in this case is a photograph of the injured girl taken in the emergency room. Buddy's attorney, Mary Maloney, is challenging the adequacy of this evidence. There is much at stake here, Buddy's life and the lasting grief of his family, for so little proof. It would seem that more records would be available from an emergency room visit, than just a photograph.
Buddy has been at the notorious Animal Control facility at Brooks City-Base since early November. Buddy's attorney is asking that he be allowed to stay at a location where his family can visit. All Buddy knows is that his formerly happy life disappeared to be replaced by a tiny cell with a Kuranda bed.
Animal lovers and court watchers alike are not sure why this case is being pursued so aggressively. An actor whose dogs got loose and attacked a neighbor was given a pass by the city. San Antonio has a recent history of losing these cases. Some readers may remember Marley, sentenced to die by San Antonio for attacking a girl. It turned out the city had it wrong. Marley was actually a hero dog who saved the girl from another dog's attack. This was not a surprise reveal, but was what the owners and the girl had claimed all along. At the time, this writer asked "How many more Marleys will there be before the San Antonio City Council repeals this bad law?" It appears Buddy is another Marley and also has reason to be exonerated.
Animal lovers in San Antonio have long been at odds with San Antonio Animal Care Services. The case of Buddy is no exception. A protest is planned January 18, Noon to 4:00, Alamo Plaza, "Protest To Free Buddy From The Brooks Hell Hole!"
Most dog bite cases do not go to trial in San Antonio because of the tremendous boarding fees. A legal fund has been set up to help cover boarding fees and attorney's fees.
Several petitions have been circulating. The newest is Texas: Create "Buddy's Law" - Provide Due Process to Animals & Give them The Right to Fight For Life
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