Lawsuit alleges Menlo Park dog attack | December 19, 2012 | Almanac | Almanac Online |


News - December 19, 2012

Lawsuit alleges Menlo Park dog attack

by Sandy Brundage

A woman who said she was maimed during a dog attack at Nealon Park in Menlo Park filed a lawsuit Dec. 4 against the owner of a German shepherd that she said bit her. A recue organization that adopted out the dog was also named as a defendant.

Angela Otero's lawsuit alleges that while her dog Ollie, a Golden Retriever-poodle mix, was playing in the park on Nov. 6, another woman — defendant Laurie Furman — dropped off the German shepherd and then walked outside the fence to talk on a cellphone.

The German shepherd then attacked Ollie, according to the court filing, biting the smaller dog around the throat. Ms. Otero said she was bitten on her right hand as she tried to separate the dogs, the complaint states, and lost part of her middle finger.

Peninsula Humane Society spokesman Scott Delucchi told the Almanac the shepherd was ordered quarantined at home for 10 days as a standard procedure to rule out rabies; the dog was current on vaccinations and neutered.

Neither Ms. Furman nor the rescue organization were immediately available for comment.

According to Ms. Otero's complaint, during the attack Ms. Furman remained outside the fence in violation of posted dog park rules that require owners to supervise and maintain control at all times. Ms. Otero said other people at the park reportedly tried and failed to get the owner's attention.

The complaint also names German Shepherd Rescue of Northern California. Ms. Furman allegedly adopted her dog through the organization in October. The lawsuit states that the organization as well as the owner should have known the dog was dangerous, and therefore acted negligently by failing to make sure the German shepherd would be kept in a safe manner.

According to documents posted on the rescue organization's website, prospective owners must complete a questionaire, interview and home visit before being allowed to adopt a dog. The website notes that many of the dogs come from unknown backgrounds and "cannot warrant or guarantee any dog's future behavior" as a result.

The lawsuit asks for damages, including punitive, and court costs. The Lanier Law Firm of Palo Alto is representing the plaintiff. The defendants have not yet retained attorneys. A case conference has been scheduled for May 10 in San Mateo County Superior Court.


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