Thursday, May 13, 2010

County Named In Animal League Countersuit

   Officials reported Thursday that members of the Lawrence County Animal Welfare League have filed a countersuit in connection with a recent legal battle involving what they alleged was a “puppy mill,” naming both the owners and Lawrence County government as defendants.

   Members of the league became embroiled in the legal battle with Rex and Jennifer Parrott when they seized around 40 dogs from the couple’s Richardson Road, Leoma home on February 20, 2010.

At that time the Parrott’s alleged that league members used threats of incarceration and coercion, forcing them to sign over rights to the animals. The dogs were farmed out to some foster homes, with the bulk of the animals housed at the temporary jail facility at the Lawrence County Balefield.

   During ensuing legal proceedings the league was ordered to return all of the dogs to the Parrotts, else they would be in contempt of court. Most of the animals were subsequently returned. Afterwards the Parrotts filed a lawsuit against the league, alleging slander and defamation of character.

   In response, league attorney Daniel Freeman filed the countersuit, naming the Parrotts and Lawrence County as defendants. Sought is an unnamed dollar amount of damages the league claims to have incurred after seizing the animals. They deny all allegations that coercion was used to gain compliance so that they could take possession of the dogs.

   Regarding Lawrence County, the league maintains that members had been involved in extensive conversations with members of the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department prior to the seizure of the animals; that sheriff’s department officials had informed them that the Parrotts wanted the dogs placed for adoption; that deputies    were with them when the seizures took place; and that the animals were housed on county property following their seizure.

   The named defendants are allowed a thirty day period in which they may file an answer to the suit.


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