ADLA is sorry to report that the jury in the Russell Files trial came back with a 'not guilty' verdict last night. Many animal advocates have asked how a jury could find Russell Files not guilty. As known, Files, an ex-Wildlife Services employee, trapped his neighbor’s dog Zoey, who was seriously injured. The baited trap was placed in Files unfenced front yard in a suburban neighborhood and left unattended. By the time the police and animal control arrived, Zoey was bloody and in considerable pain. An animal control officer at the scene who was also a veterinary technician rushed Zoey to an animal hospital where she was treated for shock. She had lost seventeen teeth attempting to escape from the trap and required surgery to repair her exposed jawbone. To read the police report click here (warning - graphic images)
The prosecution presented considerable testimony from the veterinarians that treated Zoey, including the dental expert. However, the defense hired a veterinarian who also consults with Wildlife Services. He claimed that Zoey had actually lost her teeth before the trapping incident due to poor dental care. This contradicted the testimony of several witnesses who knew Zoey.
The prosecution also presented an expert witness who was the former director of Arizona Wildlife Services. The biologist testified that leg-hold traps are inhumane and often injure animals, who can chew off legs in a “fight or flight” response to escape. Again, the defense put a paid Wildlife Services employee on the stand. When the defense attorney asked him if animals in traps chew off their legs, he responded that he had ‘never seen it happen’. When asked if it was possible, he responded, “only in the movies”. He went on to say that traps have been villianized by the media and animal rights groups.
The county attorney who prosecuted this case did a good job, but could not compete with the extensive experience of a seasoned federal public defender and substantial resources that apparently went into Files’ defense, including its ability to tap the network of Wildlife Services
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