Gulf Coast Doberman Rescue's Terri Valenti contacted us with the sad news that Leibchen has died. Readers may remember this Hurricane Katrina dog from the previous AWI Quarterly; she clung to life for seven weeks, only to be placed out with the trash when her owners returned. After her rescue, she was cared for by a foster family for several months before succumbing.
Terri reflected on Leibchen's fortitude: "We have been trying to understand Leibi's will to live despite her advanced age and poor health. We are not so presumptuous to believe that we know the reason, but we do believe that it was for a purpose… perhaps to educate people about taking their pets with them during a hurricane or to teach them that pets are not disposable. My thought is that had her owners come home and found her dead, she would have been easily forgotten; no one would have been made to think about the suffering she endured before she died. I believe Leibi must serve as a reminder of the lives in our care. That they experience pain and suffering and yes, a desire to live and be loved."
A token measure of justice was recently granted to Marcela Egea, the owner of two English mastiffs who fell victim to a pair of steel-jaw leghold traps in February of last year. As we reported in the spring 2005 AWI Quarterly, trapper Michael Kartman shot the dogs near Egea's home in Belton, Mo. when he found them caught in the jaws of his traps. In March 2006, a judge in an Associate Court ordered Kartman to pay $2,400 in civil damages to Egea for the loss of her animals. In Missouri, dogs are considered "personal property," and only their fair market value is recoverable.
Despite only having to pay what most would agree to be a small price for the lives he took, Kartman has appealed the original decision to the higher Circuit Court, where he is entitled to have a complete retrial. The case has been referred to a new judge and the parties are awaiting a trial date. We are optimistic that the judge will be sympathetic to Egea's case, and that she will have the opportunity to press for punitive damages.