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Posted on Sat, Dec 8, 2012 : 5:58 a.m.

Jury: Humane Society did not improperly seize cocker spaniels

By John Counts


Hattie before (at left), and Hattie now with family members on vacation (at right).

Courtesy of Humane Society of Huron Valley

A jury recently was found in favor of the Humane Society of Huron Valley in a lawsuit brought by a Superior Township couple who claimed the organization acted outside its legal authority to take 13 dogs into custody last year.

On Nov. 21, a jury in Judge Archie Brown's courtroom in the Washtenaw County Trial Court decided HSHV did not have ulterior motives to take the dogs away. The jury also decided the Harts did not suffer any harm or injury and that HSHV did not "exert control or authority over those dogs inconsistent with the Harts' ownership rights," court records said.

The Harts filed the lawsuit in June 2011, two months after animal cruelty investigator Matt Schaecher, who was also listed in the suit, executed a search warrant on their North Harris Road home and took 30 dogs into custody. The majority of the dogs were cocker spaniels.

Seventeen of the dogs were returned. The lawsuit sought the return of the other 13 dogs. According to HSHV, the Harts were also seeking $1 million in damages.

"In essence, a couple forced ... (the) dogs, used solely for breeding and showing, to live their entire lives in cruel confinement -- within a crowded garage in dirty wire-bottom cages," HSHV's website said. "The cocker spaniels had no form of comfort, minimal socialization, and a lifetime of veterinary care that never went beyond the preparation required for competition in the show ring."

The Harts' lawsuit claimed they have never abused dogs, but took care of neglected dogs as part of their involvement with the Detroit Cocker Spaniel Club.

John Counts covers cops and courts for He can be reached at or you can follow him on Twitter.



Sat, Dec 8, 2012 : 10:31 p.m.

Trisheltie you make yourself look suspect with remarks like that - - I would think you would be grateful for the animals welfare. Very Strange indeed

Ed Anderson

Sat, Dec 8, 2012 : 5:40 p.m.

stacked wire cages + no excersie + no socialization + never seeing the light of day + no vet care + used for breeding and selling = puppymill


Sat, Dec 8, 2012 : 7:26 p.m.

Should see the video I saw of Billy from the ASPCA. Made me sick to think someone could lock a dog in a cage solely for breeding and when they rescued him? The cage door was so rusted? They had to break the door. Sick sick sick. Great video of before and after.

Beth Wilson

Sat, Dec 8, 2012 : 5:31 p.m.

The Harts were not engaged in anything close to what any normal person would call "love". They are self-aggrandizing hoarders, who said they were saving animals and bragging about awards while keeping the dogs in stacked wire cages their entire lives, letting some out just to compete in the show ring when it suited their purposes. Shame on their circle of show dog friends who offer blind support instead of challenging their cruelty. HSHV is backed by a state law that allows them to appoint trained cruelty investigators to enforce animal cruelty laws, laws that would otherwise go completely ignored by untrained and often disinterested police agencies. The state continues to pass laws against animal cruelty because the citizens want animals protected from this and other forms of abuse. I trust these compassionate, professional expert officers more than any other group to enforce the laws and protect the innocent. Thank you to the jury for siding with law, reason and humanity.


Sat, Dec 8, 2012 : 2:49 p.m.

I am appalled that, with this ruling, the Human Society of Huron Valley is empowered to enter any of our homes, search as they wish, and seize any or all of our dogs, cats, or other pets if they don't approve of their care. Individuals who work with breed rescue clubs sometimes provide "foster" care for animals who have health problems, or sometimes take in more than one animal needing a temporary home, or both. These individuals are engaged in a labor of love, often at their own expense.


Sun, Dec 9, 2012 : 11:28 p.m.

I have no idea what you are talking about. ...'with this ruling, the Human Society of Huron Valley is empowered to enter any of our homes'... This Humane society and many others throughout the country have been able for many years to get a search warrant and enter a house. Not a new thing. No one can just enter your home and search as they wish and seize any or all pets. It's all regulated by the court same as any search warrant.


Sun, Dec 9, 2012 : 2:44 a.m.

I would hope that you don't keep your "foster" animals in wire cages in a garage. Tell you what, put yourself or a child in one and see how much they like it. Oh, and then rant and rave when CPS comes and take your kids away. If you wouldn't do it to a human being then don't do it to an animal. They are not meant to live their lives out in cages and their own filth. They are emotional beings. They have feelings just as you or I do. Well, maybe you do.


Sat, Dec 8, 2012 : 5:21 p.m.

I should have made that "welcomed with thanks."


Sat, Dec 8, 2012 : 5:21 p.m.

HSHV can come to my home any time, and be welcomed.


Sat, Dec 8, 2012 : 1:43 p.m.

given the lack of coincidenses in this life, I have questions about this and the nasty dumping of cocker spaniels in the area just before this stuff happened...see your previous article. so, are these connected? hard not to think so since its same breen, same time and close location.

City Confidential

Sun, Dec 9, 2012 : 12:39 a.m.

Slave2, do you know what is north of Ypsilanti? South Lyon.


Sat, Dec 8, 2012 : 5:46 p.m.

Sounds pretty close to me Slavester.


Sat, Dec 8, 2012 : 4:55 p.m.

You do realize that these 2 places are not even close to each other. Salem township is in south lyon. north harris is north of ypsilanti..


Sat, Dec 8, 2012 : 1:42 p.m.

They returned 13 dogs to these people? None of those dogs should have gone back at all and have them all adopted out. They would probably be happier than they are now. Just look at the pics of Hattie above and you tell me. If they ever get in trouble again for the same thing, I hope and pray for the dogs that they all get adopted out to loving families and the couple put in jail and then a lifetime order of never owning pets again.

music to my ear

Sat, Dec 8, 2012 : 1:31 p.m.

it is nice to see hattie out of the cage, able to enjoy what little time she has left on earth,