Couple’s lawsuit against animal center dismissed

GEORGETOWN — A Sussex County couple’s remaining claims against the First State Animal Center and SPCA, Inc. and others regarding a canine-related prosecution three years ago were dismissed in Superior Court Friday when a motion for summary judgment was granted.

In a lawsuit, Nancy and John Smith had earlier alleged deprivation of constitutional rights, intentional infliction of emotional distress, false arrest, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution regarding their dog Millie allegedly attacking and injuring a neighboring dog and its owner on March 16, 2015, Judge E. Scott Bradley noted in a 23-page decision.

A motion to dismiss regarding Nancy Smith’s allegations was previously granted, and John Smith’s claims were dismissed last week, according to the ruling on a motion submitted July 5.

Judge Bradley determined that an “(Animal Control Officer) has the power to swear out arrest and search warrants so long as the arrest and search warrants concern the enforcement of animal welfare laws of the State of Delaware.”

The lawsuit contended that “any person swearing out an arrest or search warrant must, in fact, have attended the police academy and be a certified police officer.”

There was no intentional infliction of emotional distress, Judge Bradley found, and “[t]he officers were merely conducting an investigation into a dog bite case, as was their responsibility under the Delaware Code.”

There was no “outrageous behavior” by officers during the sequence, the Court reasoned.

A failure for the defendant “to vaccinate Millie within (72) hours of the end of her quarantine nor the alleged over-vaccination resulted in a diagnosable heath problem for either Millie or Smith,” Judge Bradley wrote.

“Similarly, Smith has failed to show how the failure to permit an independent veterinarian to examine Millie resulted in distress to either the dog or her owner.”

 

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