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Dog lawsuit

Posted: October 11, 2011 3:08 p.m.
Updated: October 12, 2011 5:00 a.m.

Camdenites of reason, including those who enjoy taking a walk in the morning, will no doubt find a great deal of wisdom in the a federal judge’s burial of a lawsuit filed by two dog owners against city and county officials who had removed their dogs after complaints of violent behavior by the German Shepherds.

Camden residents Clifton Anderson and Richard Stoerkel had accused officials of gross negligence, illegal search and seizure and a host of other legal terms lawyers like to use to gussy up their filings. The suit was filed about six months after the men’s two dogs were removed from their Greene Street home by Camden police officers and Kershaw County Animal Control authorities. In throwing out the suit, Federal Judge Joe Anderson noted that one of the dogs had a history of violent actions towards other dogs and of being aggressive towards humans. He was actually putting it quite kindly.

One thing that helped the city’s case was the calm use by officers of their body microphones, which created an oral record of the entire proceeding when the dogs were taken and impounded. That recording refuted many of the claims of the lawsuit, which the judge apparently felt baseless.  Judge Anderson even complimented the officers on their “diplomacy” in handling the situation, based on the recording; ironically, during the seizure, one of the plaintiffs even expressed appreciation for the officers’ conduct of the entire affair.

One or both of the dogs had been involved in incidents of violence, and that’s why the officers were there to take them. In one of those incidents, Stoerkel had pleaded guilty and in another, he was found guilty by a jury. Those two incidents of guilt obviously didn’t dissuade him from filing suit. The judge’s ruling was a fair and just one. Every citizen should feel free to move about a neighborhood without fear of being attacked by a dog, and law enforcement officials should be able to do their jobs when such an incident does occur. It’s a just ruling, and makes us wonder anew why people want to own canines that are prone to attacking other dogs and people.

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