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Pit Bull Attack: Lawsuit Claims Best Friends Animal Society ‘Lost Its Moral Compass’

ANIMAL WATCH

ANIMAL WATCH-In opposing a motion by Best Friends Animal Society (BFAS) to dismiss a lawsuit discussed on CityWatch on August 29, 2021, resulting from the savage Pit Bull attack on volunteer Eve Karasik at Best Friends’ No-Kill LA (NKLA) adoption center, Los Angeles attorney Ronald M. Papell states: 

“Defendant’s [Best Friends] fund-raising enterprise was founded on a laudable goal of saving dogs from being euthanized but lost its moral compass when it pulled hundreds of dangerous pit bull dogs from the City of Los Angeles [Los Angeles Animal Services] shelters under a contract that [Best Friends] entered into with the City in 2011.”  

Attorney Pappel also claims that Best Friends was “aided and abetted by their partner, the City of Los Angeles, whose GM Brenda Barnette emphasized that information on file with LA Animal Services provided by the prior owner or notes of concern by shelter staff will NOT be shared with potential adopters choosing a canine companion or family pet. (Exh. 36).” 

This brutal and terrifying attack is described in detail in Lawsuit: Pit Bull Mauls Volunteer at Best Friends Animal Society ‘No Kill’ ShelterIt occurred when Eve Karasik, a volunteer at Best Friends “No Kill” Los Angeles shelter, was asked by another volunteer to take a large male Pit Bull, named “Henry,” (photo above) into the locked outdoor yard/enclosure attached to the building at 1845 Pontius Ave., in West Los Angeles. 

Eve (photo above, with a different shelter dog) had absolutely no warning that Henry would viciously attack her or that he had attacked in the past. She had no way to protect herself from this powerful and vicious dog. 

After playing with Henry for a brief period and without provocation, he clamped his jaws onto her right arm, and “mauled, tore at, and shredded her right arm, while twisting his head violently back and forth, thereby irreparably damaging tendons, ligaments, muscles, nerves and bone in her right arm and hand,” according to court documents filed with LA Superior Court (Case No. 18STCV07134).  

Volunteer Eve Karasik “sustained permanent and severe muscle, nerve and tissue damage and now has very limited function in her disfigured and disabled right arm and hand and she has no hope of regaining normal use.”  

“Also, as she tried to stop the attack by the pit bull, she repeatedly hit Henry around and on his head with her left hand and sustained permanent injuries to that hand also,” the lawsuit states.  

Best Friends Animal Society Seeks to Avoid Responsibility 

Best Friends Animal Society filed a Motion for Summary Judgment, claiming that the volunteer signed a waiver of liability which releases the wealthy non-profit organization from responsibility for the attack and the lifetime damage caused to the volunteer. The hearing will be held on October 7, 2021. 

The following, extracted from the very powerful and well-articulated statement by Eve Karasik’s attorney, Ronald Pappel, in defense of the lawsuit and opposition to the claims of Best Friends Animal Society, includes important emphasis on the fact that BFAS cannot rely upon “a defective, unsigned and unenforceable pre-incident release, which is imbedded in a ‘Volunteer Agreement,’ to absolve the organization of liability for their grossly negligent and, indeed, criminal malfeasance, as well as their violation of numerous statutes established to protect the public from the very violations committed by the Defendant [Best Friends].” 

It asserts that the Best Friends motion to dismiss this action, “. . .is grounded on multiple misrepresentations of fact and deceptive citations of legal authority which, in fact, support -- rather than defeat -- the claims made by victim Eve Karasik.” Attorney Papell states that Best Friends “has sought in their motion to mislead the Court by portraying a savage attack by a known-vicious predator as a ‘dog-bite’ case.” 

He contends that due to the “loss of its moral compass” and “its misguided commitment to “Save Them All,” BFAS placed the adoption-out of predatory pit bull dogs above the lives and safety of adopting families and its own volunteers, including Plaintiff [Eve Karasik], by mislabeling the breed of pit bull dogs and by fraudulently concealing the vicious propensities of such dogs, including Henry.” 

He continues that Defendant [BFAS] “. . .repeatedly and fraudulently published fabricated benign descriptions of predatory dogs for consumption by potential adopting families and thereby into the care of its volunteers, and these practices were employed with a conscious disregard and had horrific consequences to unsuspecting adopters and volunteers. . . .” 

“Furthermore,” he writes, “aided and abetted by counsel, Defendant [Best Friends] has sought to cover up their nefarious conduct by claiming. . .that their Animal View Reports containing the histories of dangerous pit bull dogs, including Henry who attacked [Eve Karasik], were readily available to volunteers, a claim that will be proven to be willfully false and perjurious.” 

“Indeed, had [Karasik] known of Defendant [Best Friends] practice of concealing past attacks of adopters and volunteers and the killing of adopter’s pets, she would not have volunteered at [Best Friends’] adoption facility in the first place.” 

BEST FRIENDS’  ‘PROCESS CHURCH OF THE FINAL JUDGEMENT’ BEGINNING 

The reference to Best Friends historically recorded past by Attorney Papell in his “Points and Authorities” states, “The sordid and bizarre history of Best Friends Animal Society (BFAS) has been written about extensively and is best summarized in two thoroughly researched articles. (Exh. 34 & 35.)”   

BFAS CONTRACT WITH THE CITY OF LOS ANGELES 

Attorney Pappel provides a summary of the contractual relationship between BFAS and the City of Los Angeles: 

In 2011, BFAS entered into a contract with the City of Los Angeles to operate the City’s Northeast Valley Shelter facility in Mission Hills as a pet-adoption facility.  The contract required BFAS to pull thousands of dogs from City shelters.  BFAS soon realized that among the dogs they were obligated to take in were hundreds of dangerous pit bull dogs, many of which had no histories or backgrounds and had either been abandoned or “owner surrendered.”  With the public perception of pit bull dogs being that of dangerous predators or fighting dogs, their attempts to place pit bull dogs with adopting families was met with resistance and defendant [BFAS] soon found itself with hundreds of pit bull dogs that people were reluctant to adopt. 

Faced with having to house and maintain an increasing number of pit bull dogs that it could not persuade people to adopt, some for months, if not years, defendant embarked on a national campaign to change the image of pit bulls.  They entitled their crusade an attempt to “End Breed Discrimination” and renewed their clarion call to “Save Them All.” 

Their campaign was wildly profitable in raising enormous amounts of monies, Exh. 38, but not sufficiently successful in persuading adopting families to adopt pit bull dogs. To further their nefarious efforts, they began removing the breed identifications from the pit bull kennels and began concocting fictitious breed names for their adoption agents to use with potential adopters.  Next, they instructed their adoption personnel on the writing of fabricated descriptions of the dogs that could be read to potential adopters and posted on pet adoption websites. 

This fraud was perpetrated on innumerable families and will be shown to have been employed to an extreme degree in the case of Henry, the dog that mauled Plaintiff Eve Karasik, when he was placed for adoption for a fifth time in its facility No-Kill Los Angeles (NKLA) after having attacked at least two people and killed one dog and severely injured another. 

In this effort they were aided and abetted by their partner, the City of Los Angeles, whose GM Brenda Barnette “emphasized that information on file with L.A. Animal Services provided by the prior owner or notes of concerns by shelter staff will NOT be shared with potential adopters choosing a canine companion or family pet.” (Exh. 36.) 

While Defendant concealed the history and behavior of Henry from the public and volunteers, they eventually had to produce their internal documents in discovery, including their computerized Animal View reports maintained on their PetPoint software programs. (Exh. 16 &17).  These records detailed observations of Henry’s behaviors by Defendant’s staff members as well as some of the reports of attacks upon adopters and their pets. 

A chronology of the dangerous behaviors and various attacks by Henry contained and concealed in Defendant’s [Best Friends] software program are set forth in [attached court documents] and include Henry’s aggressive conduct toward his staff caregivers as well as some mention of his attacks on previous adopters and their pets, including the killing of a small miniature pincher (sic) dog belonging to the first adopter of Henry. 

With this history of aggressive and dangerous behaviors, Defendant’s [Best Friends] staff nonetheless wrote the following “Petango Adoption Description” of Henry to be posted on a dog adoption website on January 12th 2017 – just three days before Henry savagely attacked Plaintiff [Eve Karasik] in the play yard at NKLA on January 15, 2017: 

“Henry is a fun and smart dog, ready for adventures and belly rubs with you!  He recently received a B.A. for the APDT C.L.A.S.S. (Association of Professional Dog Trainers Canine Life and Social Skills) program!  This means Henry is proficient in the following behaviors: sit down, settle, leave it, loose leash walking, meet n’ greets, wait for the food bowl, wait at the door, and a few more tricks! 

Among other false claims in their Motion and in responses to discovery, they stated that Henry was sent to the Best Friends sanctuary immediately after his vicious attack upon Eve Karasik.  That claim is not true, and they know it.  In fact, after Henry was released from bite quarantine, he was transferred back to the Mission Hills facility of BFAS to, once again, be placed for adoption.  

WAS VOLUNTEER EVE KARASIK ADVISED? 

Later in this document, Attorney Pappel states, “. . .[T]he release imbedded in the volunteer agreement clearly did not ‘sufficiently apprise Plaintiff of the risk’ that in volunteering to care for cats and dogs in an animal adoption facility she would be exposing herself to mauling by vicious dogs whose histories of violence had been actively concealed from those who generously donated their time to Defendant’s [Best Friends] cause. Undisputed evidence will establish Defendant’s nefarious practices of hiding vicious animals in plain sight and concealing what they knew to be their dangerous pasts and prior acts of violence.” 

SUMMARY 

Attorney Pappel concludes that, “As the summary of Henry’s behaviors makes clear, the placing of Henry for adoption a fifth time after having been returned by earlier adopters was not merely gross negligence but, rather, intentionally dangerous conduct by a corrupt organization which had determined it was in their financial bet interests to dispose of pit bull dogs to unknowing adopters and thereby place them into the care and custody of unsuspecting volunteers. If ever an entity could be said to have “increased the risk” it is Defendant BFAS. Any attempt to contend that Plaintiff Eve Karasik had assumed the risk of such an attack is not merely disingenuous but absurd.” 

WHAT ISSUES ARE IN CONTENTION? 

A fundamental issue described in this case is whether A CONTRACTUAL PRE-EVENT RELEASE THAT SEEKS TO EXEMPT DEFENDANT FROM RESPONSIBILITY FOR ITS OWN FRAUD, OR WILFULL INJURY OR VIOLATION OF LAW, WHETHER WILLFUL OR NEGLEGENT, IS AGAINST THE POLICY OF THE LAW? 

California Civil Code, Sec. 1668 provides

All contracts which have for their object, directly or indirectly to exempt anyone from responsibility for his own fraud or willful injury to the person or property of another, or violation of law, whether willful or negligent, are against the policy of the law. 

Attorney Pappel writes, “As will be shown by extensive evidence of numerous acts of willful neglect and innumerable violations of multiple applicable statutes, Defendant BFAS has attempted to exempt itself from responsibility for its repeated and intentional acts of fraudulent concealment of the dangerous behaviors of the dog Henry.” 

He also cites that “In its 2006 decision the Court announced with both clarity and certainty that “[i]t is now settled -- and in full accord with the language of the statute -- that notwithstanding its different treatment of ordinary negligence, under Sec. 1668 ‘a party [cannot] contract away liability for his fraudulent and intentional acts or his negligent violations of statutory law,’ regardless of whether the public interest is affected.” 

He surmises, “It now becomes clear why Defendant [BFAS] fails to perform interviews of those returning dogs from adoption -- they don’t want to know, or have records to establish, their violations of additional statutes designed to protect the public.”

 

CITYWATCH WILL REPORT MORE AS THE CASE PROGRESSES 

With the foregoing information, and the complete case available here, what do you think? 

Please provide your thoughts below so that other CityWatch readers can join the conversation on what is becoming a far-too-frequent nationwide tragedy. 

See also:

Lawsuit: Pit Bull Mauls Volunteer at Best Friends Animal Society “No Kill” Shelter  

Lawsuit: Vicious Pit Bull Attack on Child Settled by Best Friends Animal Society

 

(Phyllis M. Daugherty is a former City of Los Angeles employee and contributing writer to CityWatch.)

Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.

 

Tags: Phyllis M. Daugherty, Animal Watch, Best Friends Animal Society, Eve Karasik, pit bulls, LAAS, Brenda Barnette, Karasik lawsuit