Record Award in Oregon Abuse CaseOctober 10th, 2002
(Brookings, Ore.) In a landmark animal-law verdict, an Oregon jury has awarded $135,000 to a family whose dogs were intentionally poisoned.
The Ingwerson family of Brookings, Ore., lost four dogs — two died in 1995, two the following year. Though the Ingwersons believed a neighbor was responsible, local law enforcement officials declined to follow up. So the family brought their case to longtime ALDF member attorney Scott Beckstead.
After the neighbor they accuse of the poisonings, Jerry Whitman, died earlier this year, the Ingwersons sued his estate, alleging intentional infliction of emotional distress. At the trial, Whitman’s widow testified that he was hypersensitive to loud noises, such as barking. The jury also heard from a witness who saw Whitman approach one of the Ingwersons’ dogs with a small box the same day the dog died.
Jack, a border collie, had been poisoned by slug bait. The other dogs were all euthanized after ingesting antifreeze.
The jury’s $135,000 award far surpasses previous awards in cases involving animal companions. And Beckstead said the verdict could act as a precedent — and a warning to abusers.
"The verdict creates another anti-cruelty enforcement mechanism when the criminal process fails,” Beckstead said. “It also indicates that juries are recognizing the importance of human-animal relationships. And it sends a strong message to those who are inclined to intentionally harm animals that they may face serious economic consequences even if there is no criminal prosecution.”