Civil Rights for Dogs - Defining a new paradigm
The Lexus Project is a New York Not For Profit Corporation existing to help any dog who is facing death or incarceration as a vicious/dangerous dog. To defend all breeds of dogs wrongly accused of being vicious/dangerous, giving a voice to those who cannot speak for themselves.
Richard Bruce Rosenthal, Esq. - Columbia College 1975, Brooklyn Law 1978, Admitted NYS, 6th Cir. USCA, EDNY, SDNY, NDNY, CDIL, NDOH, WIWD, COD, SDIN, DCT. Private General Litigation Practice with a concentration in Animal Rights. Constitutional & Civil Rights Law, Criminal Defense and Matrimonial & Family Law 1979 - present.
After 30 years of practice I found my calling and rediscovered my passion for the law in 2009 when confronted with the imminent execution of a Greyhound named Lexus for doing what she had been bred for thousands of years to do. After saving her life, we started receiving calls from greyhound rescue groups all over the country asking for my advice and assistance on similar matters. Recognizing the need for this type of resource The Lexus Project was created. In 2011 after stepping in to save a Siberian husky facing death in Tolland, Ct. for killing chickens that drew some intense media coverage we realized that no dog was safe unless all were and redefined our mission to include defense for all breeds of dogs unjustly imprisoned or facing execution.
The world of animal law is changing rapidly as is the way the law views companion animals. Dogs today are able to be protected by orders of protection, they can be the beneficiaries of trusts, be represented by counsel and more and more Courts are beginning to acknowledge the right to emotional damages for harming them.
After creating a new basis for asserting standing based upon the Pet Trust Statutes we have successfully litigated (and often changed laws and practices) in 29 States in over 100 cases. From there we started fighting (utilizing 42 USC 1983) to overturn breed specific legislation in Wisconsin and to rein in a humane society that was violating people’s civil rights and seizing and killing their pets without any due process in Ohio and challenging Connecticut’s procedures of seizing dogs and holding them for up to a year without affording the owners a hearing.
We are currently experiencing an epidemic in this country. A rash of animal shootings by police officers nationwide has law-enforcement agencies running for cover amid growing public outrage that could force state legislatures to require greater accountability from men and women in uniform.
No government agency keeps a national database on the number of pets killed by police. But animal-abuse activists have kept statistics, and they say a pet is killed by law enforcement every 98 minutes in America. They say it is largely a result of officers having little-to-no training on how to deal with dogs and no plan to deal with them in place other than to shoot them.
Until recently, I had avoided getting involved in the cases of dogs shot by law enforcement officers, believing that they were better addressed by the negligence plaintiff’s bar and I was inundated with cases trying to save live dogs. However, the number and frequency of these shooting has increased so drastically that I could no longer sit idly on the sidelines bemoaning the tragedy of the situation. If we did not move aggressively to stop these shootings it would only grow worse.
As I looked for attorneys to litigate these cases I discovered that, because most States, because dogs are chattel, you could only recover the cost of replacing the dog with another similar dog, there were few plaintiff’s attorneys willing to take these cases. Further inquiry determined that when one ceased viewing these cases as injury to property cases and started dealing with them as the civil rights violations that they are can any real progress be made.
Unfortunately, there are just as few plaintiff’s civil rights attorneys willing to take dog shot by police cases as there are negligence attorneys available, and the few attorneys with real experience litigating these cases, though willing to assist and advise, were inundated and unable to handle the numerous cases. Even worse, many cases were being brought in State Courts under the wrong theories and either being dismissed or settling for minimal amounts, thus perpetuating the idea that these cases were unprofitable and not worth taking. What was required was a new approach and developing a robust animal friendly bar and educating them to deal with the ever increasing number of cases.
Phone: (718) 261-0200