Jury Says County, Owner Share Blame For Dog’s Shelter Death

MIAMI (CBS4) – A controversial death at the Miami-Dade Animal Services shelter and the claim that the shelter was negligent has been settled by a Miami-Dade jury, which cleared the shelter of negligence charges but split the blame for the dog’s death between the shelter and the owner.

The tale is tragic. Cowboy, a Golden Retriever owned by Anays Rodriguez-Porras, disappeared following a 2005 storm, and was picked up by Animal Services. Since Cowboy had a microchip, and the shelter found it, the story should have had a happy ending.

Instead, Animal Services contacted Rodriguez-Porras, but before she could pick Cowboy up, the dog was euthanized.

She sued, and charged the county with gross negligence. Thursday, after deliberating 50 minutes, the Miami-Dade jury hearing the case disagreed. They cleared the county of the gross negligence charge, but agreed it was partly responsible for the dog’s death. However, the jury placed the majority of the blame, 57%, on Rodriguez-Porras. After the county notified her Cowboy was found, it took 2 days for her husband to come to the shelter for him.

“How can anybody in their right mind think that Im 57% responsible for my dog’s death? I didn’t inject him,” said Rodriguez-Porras.

It took 6 years to settle the issue, but the director of the shelter, Dr. Sara Pizano, pulled no punches when asked about the role of Animal Services in her testimony. She admitted errors were made, and said Cowboy’s death violated shelter policy and the county’s mission to re-unite owners with lost pets whenever possible. Pizano fired the employee who allowed Cowboy to be killed, but Rodriguez-Porras did not believe that was enough and filed her lawsuit.

“We are heartbroken about the loss of Cowboy and the County has admitted negligence regarding the mistaken euthanasia from the beginning,” Pizano told CBS4’s Gio Benitez in an e-mail Friday.  “Despite this, and attempts to settle, Ms. Rodriguez-Porras claimed that the County was grossly negligent, and that she was entitled to pain and suffering, which the County denied.”

In the end, the jury said the county had to pay Rodriguez-Porras $860, their share of the responsibility for the dog’s death. Since the jury found she had the majority of responsibility for the dog’s death, under the law the county can now seek to have her pay their legal bills, which Rodriguez-Porras’s attorney believes could approach $45 thousand.

“It is my fervent hope that the County will realize that she’s been through enough,” said Rob McNeely, the attorney for Rodriguez-Porra.

Pizano said the county has not yet determined those costs.

“I will always fight, even if I get knocked down, I will get up and I will fight, because I will not let anybody bully me or anyone that I can help,” said Rodriguez-Porras.

  • Vanilla

    The Jury is stupid. The lady’s dog died! That’s the most horrible thing.
    The county should pay more than a lousy $800 for a beloved pet:(

    They need to add 4 more zero’s.

    • Anal Chapstick

      Did you read the story?
      The dog died because the owner didnt pick it up.
      Adios Cowboy!

    • Chris r

      PLEASE….are you serious? According to the law, a dog is treated the same as a desk. The woman’s husband took 2 DAYS to pick up the dog. She should sue him. Hopefully the county can sue her and recoup my taxpayer dollars. The attorney knew the law, and still brought on this lawsuit.

      HAHAHA… 2 DAYS!!! If I lose my cellphone, I RUN AND FLY to pick that thing up. At least he’s in lost doggie heaven, if there is such a thing.

  • Ann

    Two days to pick up your dog? When my dog got lost a few years back we went to Animal Services every day to check if she was there. We glued her picture and info on every light pole, corner and store on the area and went back to the stores every day because they will take down the flyer. We received that call that told us somebody found her after 9 days. It took us 3 hours to go pick her up, just the time to get out of work. Because we LOVE her.
    It’s a shame the roll that animal services played in this case but if you picked your dog up right away maybe he will still be with you.
    Sad story.

  • Anal Chapstick

    I’m so happy to read that the County may seek restitution for legal fees. Go for it.

    Talk about a frivolous lawsuit! By law, a dog is considered property, not a member of the family.

    Summary Judgement should have shut this case down years ago.

    • Dee

      Wrong! Dogs are now considered in many jurisdictions to be more than just “property.” If you followed the law more closely you’d know that. See http://www.aldr.org.

  • Stacy

    I am sad for the dog, its horrible what happened and the county made a mistake. However I have a dog, who is micro-chipped because we love her and want her back AS SOON AS POSSIBLE if she where to ever get lost. God forbid she gets out and they call me to come get her I would be there within minutes, not days! That is what I don’t understand, how could they wait 2 days to get the dog? What was happening that they couldn’t go and get their beloved pet right away?

  • Fred D.

    This is freaking hilarious. They deserve everything they got. I’m sure the county would have settled for a good chunk of money, but thats what greed will get you.

    >>>I will always fight, even if I get knocked down, I will get up and I will fight, because I will not let anybody bully me or anyone that I can help,” said Rodriguez-Porras<<<

    You lost! end of story…build a bridge and get over it! lol…stupid people.

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