Wednesday Dec 24 2008
Owner of injured terrier says he's owed vet bills
By: Jenifer Gee Journal Staff Writer
County denies claim; Sheriff’s Office says actions justified
A Foresthill man and Auburn business owner says the county should absorb his $3,000-and-growing veterinary bill after a Placer County Sheriff’s Office deputy shot and injured his dog. However, Sheriff’s Office officials say the dog shooting was justified, and the county has denied the man’s claim. Don DeVries, owner of A-town Deli, said he was inside his home on a September Sunday evening when he heard a few shots fired. Deer season had just started so DeVries initially thought a deer hunter was shooting a deer on his property. He walked out to see his 6-year-old American Staffordshire Terrier, Luke, limping toward him. DeVries says a sheriff’s deputy was on his property, located off Red Ridge Road in Foresthill, when he shot at DeVries’ dog. The incident occurred around 8:20 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 28. DeVries claims Luke was shot at four to five times as he was running away from the deputy. Placer County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Dena Erwin said the office conducted an internal affairs investigation and found it to be a justifiable shooting. She said the deputy responded to a call from a man who said he was being attacked by two pit bulls. Erwin said when the deputy stepped out of the car, he was “immediately charged by a brown and white pit bull terrier.” She said the deputy fired four shots and then the dog ran to a residence on Red Ridge Road. She said a family member was given the deputy’s business card and a case number to file a claim. Erwin said the county, not the Sheriff’s Office, decides whether or not to accept a claim. DeVries showed a letter dated Dec. 4 from the county denying the family’s claim to have their veterinarian bills covered relating to Luke’s injuries from the gunshot. According to DeVries, the county said because the deputy was not on DeVries’ property, the county will not pay the bills. DeVries said the veterinary bills have so far totaled $3,000, which includes the initial $1,000 emergency vet trip the family took that Sunday night. He said Luke returns to the vet every 10 days to change the dressing covering his wound. DeVries said Luke might need bone grafting. He said the total bill could range between $6,000 and $7,500. He added that his dog is friendly and approachable. DeVries said often Luke rides around the neighborhood with a UPS delivery driver when he’s out dispensing packages. He said Luke was barking at the deputy because he had a canine in the car. He said he is ready to take the battle to court if that’s what is necessary. He clarified his intentions by saying he and his family are not looking for money personally, they only want the county to do what in their mind is the right thing. “I told the guy, ‘you can pay the vet directly. I don’t want your money,’” DeVries said. “I just want my dog taken care of. I go out and earn my money. I don’t want to sue.” DeVries added that he respects the Sheriff’s Office. “I know what a tough job they have and what they deal with every day,” DeVries said. “This is just about a bad judgment call that needs to be rectified.” The Journal's Jenifer Gee can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or post a comment.