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Protecting Clients From the State "Protecting" Us

My RI client owns a Bengal cat; a breed recognized as a domestic cat by at least five national and international cat fancier associations, deemed NOT a wild animal under Federal law and, as a sixth-generation Bengal, deemed a domestic cat under CT and MA law. The cat has always been vaccinated against rabies and its owner had even been issued several, consecutive breeder permits by the city.

Notwithstanding all the above, the RE Dept. of Environmental Management brought an action to seize (functionally, destroy) the pet and fine its owner $300/day on the grounds that it was both an illegally imported "wild animal" and a rabies threat. The DEM named the wrong party as a defendant.

Early last summer, a Motion To Dismiss was brought accordingly - but not timely decided by the hearing officer. Instead, the owner and her family were subjected to the great cost and duress of a full hearing, then a memorandum conference, plus my preparation for that hearing and the extensive post-hearing memo.

The decision finally came: The DEM was found to have failed to name the correct party and failed to have amended its complaint when that fundamental defect was made manifest. Therefore, it cannot seize the cat, nor impose the $300/day fine it sought.

Had the Motion To Dismiss been granted when brought, many months ago, we would have had the same result with far less cost and trauma to the family, and waste of taxpayer resources.