From left: James Bates and humane society Director John Aleshire on the defense.
UPDATE 06/10/10: On June 4, James Bates, his mother Queen Bates and Queen's niece Jada Carson filed a Complaint in the Marion County Superior Court against Shawn Middleton and the Humane Society of Indianapolis. On March 4, James Bates was seriously injured by Middleton's two aggressive pit bulls. The pit bull that led the attack had been adopted out to Middleton by the humane society less than two months earlier. The Complaint states in part:
20. On January 12, 2010, less than two months prior to the March 4th attack, Queen called 911 because she was chased into her home by the same two pit bulls. In this case, the attacking pit bulls had left the scene by the time the responding officers arrived.
21. On January 8, 2010, four days prior to the first attack, a pit bull involved in both attacks (that was shot and killed on the scene in the second attack) was adopted out to Middleton by the Humane Society.
22. Pit bulls as a breed have dangerous and vicious propensities.
23. The presence of a pit bull already in the household increases the risk of dangerous or vicious propensities being acted upon.
24. While in the care and custody of the Humane Society, the pit bull exhibited signs of aggressive behavior which the Humane Society knew or should have known made it unfit for adoption.
25. The pit bull adopted out to Middleton by the Humane Society less than two months prior to the attack on the Bates family was the lead dog in the attack.
The Complaint also states that since the March 4 attack, Middleton was charged with two counts of dog bite causing serious bodily injury, a class A misdemeanor (Indiana Code § 15-20-1-4), and two counts of harboring a non-immunized dog. The Complaint seeks compensatory damages from Middleton (pursuant to Indiana Code § 15-20-1-3) and compensatory damages from the humane society for breaching its duty by adopting out a pit bull with dangerous propensities.
03/23/10: Aggressive Pit Bull Has Paper Trial
Shawn Middleton, 25, faces four misdemeanor charges including two charges for dog bite causing serious bodily injury after his two pit bulls mauled James Bates. One of the pit bulls had been adopted out by the Humane Society of Indianapolis less than two months earlier. Court documents show that the dog, Yoda, had shown signs of aggressive behavior while in the care of the society, which contradicts Director John Aleshire's earlier claim that the dog had not.
Councilman Mike Speedy believes the dog should have never been adopted out. He said the attack is a wake-up call that Indianapolis needs a pit bull ordinance. Speedy spent much of 2009 trying to pass his At Risk Dog proposal, but through the urging of Director Aleshire, his fellow councilors tabled the issue. "We don't have a comprehensive, targeted solution," Speedy said. "The maulings will continue, and I fear there will be a fatality before it's all over."
03/14/10: Humane Society Director on the Defense
Indianapolis, IN - After two pit bull attacks were reported in the same day, it was discovered that one of the two pit bulls involved in the March 4 attack on James Bates had been adopted just weeks earlier from the Humane Society of Indianapolis. The owner of the dogs, Marion County Sheriff's Deputy Shawn Middleton,1 adopted one of the dogs on January 8 from the society. Four days later, Middleton's neighbors called 911 to report the loose aggressive dogs.
In just four days, the adopted pit bull was reported to the police for its aggression. 6-weeks later, the dog2 attacked a person.
Humane Society of Indianapolis Director John Aleshire3 said the pit bull showed no signs of aggression before it was adopted. "We do not adopt out aggressive dogs, period," he said. "We saw no signs of aggression that would cause us to be concerned here." According to Aleshire, before a dog can be adopted from the society, it must undergo "thorough behavior testing," including putting a hand-shaped instrument near the animal's food bowl to see if it growls or bites.
Exactly how thorough does this sound to you readers? (Please see: Aggressive Behavior in Adopted Dogs that Passed a Temperament Test).
John Aleshire: "We do not adopt out aggressive dogs, period."
Joanna Massee: "Obviously this dog was aggressive."
John Aleshire: "Well, something happened after the dog left, yes, but the dog showed no signs of aggression --"
Joanna Massee: "Four days after it left, because police were called 4 days."
John Aleshire: "Could be, the point is that we saw no signs of aggression that would cause to be concerned here."
Joanna Massee: "Does this cause you to re-evaluate your policies?"
John Aleshire: "Uh, our policies have been thorough and we have, we are very satisfied with the policies that we have."
News Narrator: Humane Society Director Aleshire said some dogs in the shelter require mandatory obedience training, which the owner promises to do after adoption. Such is the case with Middleton's pit bull.
John Aleshire: "Mandatory obedience is not because the dog is aggressive; it's just a handful and an energetic dog"...
Joanna Massee: "Does the humane society take any responsibly about what happened?"
John Aleshire: "The humane society can never guarantee a dog or a cat."
News Narrator: Aleshire said no guarantees and no proof on paper. Aleshire could not provide any paperwork on the dog's testing results, but he assured us the dog passed everything.
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2The adopted pit bull that attacked Bates was shot and killed by police officers after the incident. According to Sgt. Jeffrey Duhamell, from January 2007 to March 2009, Indianapolis police officers shot and killed 42 pit bulls, 86% of all dogs they had to shoot.
3Last year, after a series of violent pit bull attacks, City-County Council Member Mike Speedy proposed a mandatory pit bull sterilization law. Both Aleshire and the humane society strongly opposed the measure and managed to get it "tabled."
04/24/09: Indianapolis Councillor Files "At Risk" Dog Proposal Today
03/07/09: Coverage of Indianapolis Serious Pit Bull Attacks and Controversy
02/12/09: Indianapolis Must Enact a Pit Bull Law or Serious Maulings Will Continue
08/23/08: Suing Animal Control Agencies After a Dog Attack