A jury’s decision to award a family $600,000 in damages for pain and suferring as result of their dog being shot by a Fredrick County Sheriff Deputy, was upheld this week by a Montgomery County Judge.
The Frederick News Post reported that the judge upheld the award of $600,000 to the family, but lowered the monetary compensation for veterinary costs from $20,000 to a few thousand dollars. This is one of the first cases in Maryland to recognize that pets are family members and not property.
Roger and Sandi Jenkins were at their Taneytown, Maryland home on January 9, 2010 when Deputy First Class Timothy Brooks shot their chocolate Labrador Retriever named Brandi while he and another deputy were looking for the Jenkins’ son on a civil warrant.
Brandi came outside of the Jenkins' home and bounded out to greet Deputy Brooks who immediately drew his gun and shot the dog, despite the fact that Brandi had stopped barking and never got within 3 feet of him. The incident was caught on a dashcam video from the police car and was shown during the court proceedings.
As result of the shooting, Brandi now requires life-long medical care and faced having her leg amputated as result of the wound.
When the Jenkins rushed Brandi to the vet, the deputies entered their home without their permission. As such, the deputies were also found to have violated the couple's constitutional rights. A few months later, Roger and Sandi sued the Frederick County Sheriff's Office and the state of Maryland for pain and suffering.
Although the defense claims the suit was driven by "money and greed" and that the officers were painted unfairly as negligent, in the end, the jury decided in the Jenkins' favor.
The Jenkins’ lawyer Cary J. Hansel said verdict, "The verdict makes it clear that Maryland citizens will not tolerate the killing and maiming of innocent family pets by those in positions of power." He noted that the law was lagging behind society's view that pets are more than property and are seen as family members. "I think it's important for the development of the law that pets be treated as animal family members."
Rebekah D. Lusk, also the Jenkins’ lawyer, added that, "From now on, police officers are on notice that they should think twice before using deadly force against a family pet."
The Frederick News Post's interviewed Roger Jenkins with Brandi a few months after Brandi's shooting in March 2010 where he recounts his version of events.
A news story after the jury came to their decision shows original video footage from the police's dashcam of Brandi approaching deputy prior to her shooting.