Broward Ordered to Set Zeus Free

Broward Loses On Appeal—Ordered to Set "Zeus" Free

Zeus, on Broward's Dog Death Row, was set free August 31, 2010 by Judge Martin Dishowitz.  The Order Setting Zeus free can be read in its entirety here.  A must read.  Zeus was represented pro bono by Scott Schirrman. The Hearing Officer found Zeus dangerous for biting an exterminator while he was spraying the owner's back yard.  Schirrman filed a Writ of Certiorari, a type of appeal that challenges whether the record supports the findings by the hearing officer.

There was an issue of provocation.  The exterminator, entering the backyard unannounced was met by a dog who jumped up at the mask around the exterminator's neck.  The exterminator pushed the dog away and was bitten in the process.  The court did not decide the case on whether the exterminator provoked the dog by pushing.  Instead, it concentrated on that part of the Broward Ordinance which states that no dog will be found dangerous if a person is injured while committing a trespass.  Since the exterminator did not ask for the owner's permission to go in the backyard, he was not lawfully there, and was a trespasser.  Zeus was therefore absolved, and the Court ordered him off of death row and back to his owners.

The case is significant in several respects.  First, the footnotes of the opinion point out the sloppy, contradictory, and hearsay nature of the County's introduced documentary evidence (which is pretty much standard).  Second, the court expresses its dismay at the way the Ordinance was written, and the perilous outcome for dogs who have never been in trouble before.  Lastly, it points out the faulty reasoning of the Hearing Officer. 

A great result and opinion in the face of daunting odds.

Dangerous Dog Law

Helping to defend our best friends. Dangerous Dog Law (DDL) focuses on the legal defense of allegedly dangerous dogs. DDL is a member of the Pit Bulletin Legal News Network.

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