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Judge dismisses St. Pete couple's lawsuit against city over dog killed by police

TAMPA — A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit a local couple filed against the City of St. Petersburg after a police officer shot their aging golden retriever to death a year ago.

U.S. District Judge Richard A. Lazzara issued an order Tuesday afternoon, just hours after Assistant City Attorney Joseph Patner filed a motion to dismiss the case.

Lazzara's order called the plaintiff's complaint a "quintessential shotgun pleading," indicating that parts of it were not clear enough and didn't follow all the pleading requirements for federal courts.

Lazzara is giving Boomer's owners, Lauren and Roy Glass of St. Petersburg, 15 days to redo their complaint.

"I didn't expect to receive an order like this," Roy Glass, a personal injury lawyer, said Tuesday. "Of course I'm going to refile."

Glass said he was surprised by the judge's quick decision. He said he hadn't even had a chance to read or respond to Patner's motion.

The Glass family decided to sue the city after Boomer was shot and killed Oct. 1, 2011, by St. Petersburg Officer Misty Swanson, who got a call of an aggressive dog that night.

Swanson and another officer said Boomer snapped at a neighborhood woman walking her dog in the Old Northeast, then charged them with teeth bared and growling.

Swanson said she shot the dog out of fear, and later learned it had bitten someone else about a year before.

It took two days for the Glass family to learn what happened to their dog.

Roy Glass filed a lawsuit earlier this month in Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court. The city then opted to have it moved to federal court, because part of the Glass' argument was that their rights under the Fourth and 14th amendments were violated.

The couple also laid out an argument that pets should be treated more like people and less like property.

They started a Facebook petition and have a strong community following. Their case also prompted changes at the police department, which offered animal training to its officers.

"It's a difficult situation for everyone involved," Patner said. "I have sympathy for the officer, and I have sympathy for Mr. Glass and his family."

Times staff writer Marissa Lang contributed to this report. Kameel Stanley can be reached at kstanley@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8643.

Judge dismisses St. Pete couple's lawsuit against city over dog killed by police 10/30/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 30, 2012 8:23pm]
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