Miami-Dade County confiscated the family’s dog to be euthanized. The family went to court, where the judge ruled twice that the county had violated state law and should have returned the animal. But the county’s actions in both cases stunned dog owners. Tonight is “Help Me Howard” with Patrick Frazier.
Scott and Louise have a beautiful yard, but they can’t enjoy it because part of the family is missing.
Scott Davis: “Four months, to be honest, we went through hell.”
In February, Scott opened his gate to move his boat. His 10-year-old dog, Jewel, saw the boy riding a bicycle and once bit him on the leg.
Scott Davis: “I accepted the fact that in this particular case I was negligent in allowing this accident. That’s what it was.”
Scott offered to pay the boy’s doctor’s bill. He placed Precious in quarantine for 10 days, as required by the county. Then 30 days later…
Scott Davis: “I see some Metro Dade cops with two animal control officers. “We’re here to pick up your dog and we have a warrant for her.”
It transpired that Miami-Dade Animal Services and the District Attorney’s Office obtained three court orders, signed by two judges, demanding that Precious be taken away and euthanized.
Scott Davis: “This dog is like a child to me. I have had this dog for ten years now.”
Scott immediately hired Lauren Peffer, an animal rights lawyer, who was stunned to discover that Jewel’s arrest court hearing was being held without Scott’s knowledge.
Lauren Peffer: “And then go and take someone’s property without due process, without their part of the story, that should scare you.”
And Scott’s side may have changed the judge’s decision to drop Jewel.
In an affidavit, the mother of the bite victim swore that Animal Welfare had informed her that this was not the first time Jewel had bitten someone. Not true.
An Animal Services case number filed for the confiscation of Precious and signed by a judge refers to an eviction that had nothing to do with Scott or his property, and Animal Services stated that the boy had been bitten twice by the dog.
Again, not true, says Scott. The boy was bitten once.
Lauren Peffer: “I mean, you should be very concerned about this.”
Lauren filed an appeal to block Precious from being killed.
We asked Animal Services to see the Jewel or take a picture to prove she was still alive. They said no.
Back in court, the district attorney who oversaw the forfeiture of Precious said the dog was fine, but offered no evidence.
Christopher Wahl, Assistant District Attorney for Miami-Dade County: “But they don’t have a case they can file in this court to dictate to us how we take care of the dog.”
Lauren argued that since the dog was seized on the basis of false testimony at a hearing in which Scott was not allowed to tell his side of the story, the dog should be returned to him.
Two weeks later, after reviewing the case law, Judge Diana Gonzalez-White agreed.
Judge Diana Gonzalez-White: “There has been a violation of due process. We should have had a real hearing on this. They had the right to comment and to a hearing.”
Judge F. Gonzalez-White also ordered the county to return Precious to Scott.
Judge Diana Gonzalez White: “By the end of today, if possible, I think that would be ideal. Is there something that you, you know, foresee that will make it very difficult for them to get the dog back?
Christopher Wahl: “I don’t foresee anything, Your Honor.”
But the district attorney had a different plan than he told the court.
On Sunday, he sent out an email saying he had filed an appeal against a court order challenging the judge’s decision to return Precious, a legal maneuver that could take months to resolve.
Scott Davis: And I did it on Sunday. I mean, you know, this guy is working overtime on this particular case for some reason, and I have to ask myself, “Why?”
I emailed Christopher Wahl asking why the DA’s office was working weekends spending thousands of dollars euthanizing a dog based on a case full of factual errors.
Wahl responded, “The county’s attorney’s office is not commenting on the pending lawsuit.”
But two days later, Judge Gonzalez-White responded to the DA’s lawsuit by overturning the original orders to take the Jewel, writing, “They violated state law and she wrote in bold type:”RETURN THE DOG“.
We met Louise Davis when she went after the Jewel, but the DA quickly filed another appeal and refused to release Precious, the amazing Scott, again.
Scott Davis: “And I think they may have gone ahead and euthanized my dog and they don’t have a dog to deliver me.”
Lauren then filed a petition for release from residence and the return of the Jewel.
Scott says he will continue to fight to get his dog back and find out why Miami-Dade County works so hard to never get it back.
With this Help Me Howard, I’m Patrick Frazier, 7News.
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