Judge rules that dog can go home while New Llano pit bull ban case is decided

LAKE CHARLES -- A federal judge has ruled in favor of a New Llano couple regarding their request for "preliminary and/or permanent injunctive relief" in their case against the Town of New Llano and its pit bull ban.

According to the ruling, handed down Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Patricia Minaldi, Christina and Victor Nelsons' dog, Mazzy, can live in their New Llano home with them, under certain guidelines, until a final judgment is rendered in the case. The couple made the relief request several weeks ago.

The couple filed suit against the town after their dog was banned. The Nelsons' dog, according to court documents, is a mixed breed, shelter dog and "no breed pedigree was ever provided to the Nelsons regarding Mazzy." The town identified the dog as a pit bull.

"The Court finds the plaintiffs have proved a substantial likelihood of success on the merits, a substantial threat of irreparable harm if the injunction is not granted; that the threat of injury outweighs any harm the injunction would cause and that the injunction will not disturb public interest. The Nelsons must put up a bond in the amount of $1,000.00," the ruling states. "The Nelsons are to maintain their dog behind the fence and if they take the dog out on a leash, the dog must be muzzled while outside the fence. The Nelsons are to put two signs in their yard that meet the specifications contained in Section Seven and they may put partial breed pit bull on the signs. The Nelsons are to make provisions to have insurance in place that would cover any damage that their dog might do in the future. Defense counsel objects to the ruling."

The lawsuit ultimately challenges the constitutionality of the ban ordinance because dogs can be seized without a hearing. Among other things, the suit also challenges the town's method of determining a dog's breed -- a canine DNA test.

New Llano officials, in an 18-page response to the lawsuit, claim they acted properly -- "in good faith" -- and in the best interest of the town.

The Nelsons have requested that a jury ultimately weigh the case.

A court date has not been set.

A lawsuit presents the grievance of one party against others. It does not present both sides of the issue in question.
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Location : New Llano
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