Animal Shelters: 2 Lawsuits Claim Negligence, Adopting Out Unsafe Pit

By Phyllis M Daugherty / Opposing Views

A Maryville, Tennessee, family filed a $250,000 lawsuit against the Blount County Animal Shelter on May 2, after a 7-year-old boy was severely injured by a Pit Bull adopted from the shelter. .The lawsuit was filed in Blount County Circuit Court by Samson and Jennifer Kim, the Daily Times reports.

The complaint states that, on May 18, 2013, the boy was at the home of a family friend who had recently adopted a Pit Bull from the Blount County Animal Shelter.

It is also alleged that employees at the animal shelter had knowledge that the Pit Bull had exhibited vicious behavior, but deceived the adopters by telling them the dog was well-behaved and had not displayed any aggression whatsoever.

The suit also claims that the shelter had insufficient information on the history of the dog to make a proper determination regarding whether or not it had an aggressive nature, but placed the dog up for adoption with reassurances to the public that it was safe.

The boy went to the friend’s home and interacted with the Pit Bull, believing it was friendly. Then, without warning, the dog viciously mauled him. His parents had to pull the dog off their son to save him, according to the Daily Times.

The boy suffered severe and life-threatening injuries during the savage attack, including 1,000 stitches to his face. He is continuing to undergo additional medical treatment, the suit states.

The Kims claim the shelter was negligent in not providing proper information; that shelter staff knew the dog had questionable behavior, and there was an obligation to warn prospective adopters of the potential dangers.

They assert that the shelter also has financial liabilities for the hospital and other medical bills incurred in son’s treatment. They are seeking an additional award for pain and suffering.

The Blount County Animal Shelter website states:

“The shelter euthanizes an animal only if absolutely necessary (public danger or liability, damaged beyond repair, behavioral issues, etc.). Our dog adoption rate is over 90%.”

Knoxville-based attorneys Tony Farmer and John P. Dreiser are representing the Kim family, while Craig Garrett, attorney for the Blount County Mayor’s Office, is representing the shelter.

The Times reports it was unable to reach either party for comment.


Cassandra Cosgriff adopted a Pit Bull she named Zen from the Riverhead animal shelter a few years ago. Cosgriff said the dog never showed any signs of aggression until Zen “attacked her arm in February, chomping down and not letting go.” The dog also went after Cosgriff’s two sons. “We almost couldn’t get the dog off,” she told ABC News.

“She jumped up and went for my throat,” she said pointing to where she was injured and showing the ugly scars on her arm. “These two injuries still really hurt. There’s nerve damage over here.”

Cosgriff is just starting to be able to use her arm again, but not enough to continue her job as a hairstylist. She has several surgeries ahead of her so that she can, hopefully, recover from her injuries.

She said she is planning to sue the town of Riverhead for several million dollars.

Zen was euthanized, but, after the attack, Cosgriff says she did some research and she found out from the police that Zen had been abused, “I found out that my dog’s ears had been cut with scissors and that she had been a fighter dog,” she said.

The shelter never told her about Zen’s past. This is why she is now suing the town for fraud and negligence.

“There was a known history of severe abuse with this dog and she should not have been placed with a family,” said Sandra Radna, her attorney.

The supervisor for the town of Riverhead said the town will not comment on litigation and that he is unfamiliar with the case

“This whole thing could have been avoided. I’m lucky to be here. I could be dead right now,” she said. “This dog chewed on me like I was a bone.”

The website for Riverhead Animal Shelter reads as follows:

“The North Fork Animal Welfare League (NFAWL) is a 501(c) not for profit organization. The NFAWL is in contract with the Town of Southold and now starting March 1st 2013 with Riverhead to provide -mandated animal care and control as well as shelter services In 1980 the NFAWL was the first organization in the state with the commitment and courage to contract with a municipality to provide these services while maintaining a no kill policy. For over two decades the League has provided these services and continues to save over 95% of all needy animals coming through our doors. through the work of the NFAWL, has the highest adoption rate and the lowest euthanasia rate of any in the country.”

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