Virginia Woman Sues Animal Shelter Over Bite to Her Finger

January 28, 2020

A Virginia woman has sued a humane society that she says didn’t properly restrain a caged dog that bit her finger.

Marie A. Franco-Wisnewski, 55, of Portsmouth, is seeking $240,000 in damages, plus costs and interests, from the Portsmouth Humane Society, The Virginian-Pilot reported.

In court documents, she said she was walking through the shelter 15 months ago when she felt a tug on her right arm. A caged pit bull was pulling her hand inside his pen, she said.

The lawsuit says the shelter failed to properly restrain the dog, train him or otherwise make him less dangerous.

Attorney David Abel, who represents the shelter, said in court documents that the lawsuit should be dismissed. He argued that Franco-Wisnewski was negligent and that the dog’s presence was “open and obvious.”

It is unclear what happened to the dog involved in the Oct. 14, 2018, incident. Sgt. Misty Holley, a police spokeswoman, said Animal Control investigated the bite and did not pursue charges. She didn’t know where the dog went after quarantine.

According to the lawsuit, Franco-Wisnewski went to the facility after church to look for a dog to adopt. She was wearing a blouse with French cuffs and a pearl bracelet that hung down several inches past her hands as she walked.

She was “invited to look around the shelter unaccompanied by any employees,” according to the lawsuit. But as she walked past a kennel, the dog snatched the fabric of one of her sleeves and pulled her hand inside.

The lawsuit said the dog then bit down on her finger, causing profuse bleeding.

But Holley said Franco-Wisnewski’s clothing became snagged on the kennel and that the dog bit her when she went to free it.

The lawsuit said Franco-Wisnewski had an unspecified preexisting condition that causes both “extreme bleeding” and “serious blood clotting.” As a result of the attack, she continues to suffers numbness and pain, which appears to be permanent, the lawsuit said.

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