HSU claims Santaquin, Utah dog death sentence is unconstitutional
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MURRAY, UT (Oct. 21, 2017) -- Dog owner files memorandum challenging city ordinance
The Humane Society of Utah (HSU) announced that a sentence requiring a 5-year-old Australian Shepherd named Dexter to be euthanized for possibly touching a 12-year-old girl is being challenged in the Fourth District Court in Spanish Fork, Utah. Attorney and President of HSU, Craig S. Cook, filed a motion on behalf of dog owner Lindsy Bray to dismiss the charges against her after she was found guilty by a Santaquin City Justice for allowing Dexter to "attack" the girl. HSU and Bray contend that the city ordinance’s vague definitions, lack of viable defenses, and mandatory death of a beloved pet combine to deprive the dog’s owner of her constitutional rights. The case is set for oral argument before Judge Eldridge December 11, 2017.
“One year ago today, Dexter escaped from our yard," said Lindsy Bray in a Facebook post. “I never would have imagined how this would change my life. I have spent many hours in court, city council meetings, and lots of other random things that I wouldn’t normally do. My hope is that no other family will have to feel the the pain of this horrible ordinance.”
In her motion, Bray claims that the Santaquin ordinance violates several important federal and state constitutional rights. According to the existing ordinance, the definition of an attacking dog is so vague and ambiguous that a person could be cited for playing chase with their dog or being scratched by an over-eager canine. Bray also contends that the ordinance offers a limited defense to a charge. Theoretically, if a dog attacked a mugger off the owner’s property and defended the owner, the dog would be sentenced to death. Bray maintains that requiring mandatory euthanasia in all cases is an illegal forfeiture of property prohibited by the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Santaquin City filed charges against Lindsy Bray January 2017. The police report said that a small white mark was found on the girl’s leg that did not break the skin.
Bray defended herself in a hearing before the Santaquin Justice Court not knowing the extreme seriousness of a conviction. She was shocked to hear that Dexter would have to be euthanized within five days under the Santaquin mandatory ordinance, which allowed no other remedies. Bray appealed her conviction to the Fourth District Court in Spanish Fork where a new trial will be held de novo if the Motion to Dismiss is not granted.
Proposed changes to amend the city’s animal control ordinance were voted down 3 to 2 in the Santaquin City Council meeting Thursday, Sept. 6, 2017.