Expanding a bit on the news I posted a few days ago about the Eye Dog Foundation’s puppy raisers winning in court, I finally have had some time to go through the HUGE email that I was sent. First, let me reitterate that the summary judgment is still pending. So these are preliminary findings as the judge still has yet to rule on the lawsuit. And all of this only pertains to the seven dogs that were not returned to the school.
The findings begin with the”first right of refusal” agreement the puppy raisers were given — meaning that if their dog was released from guide dog training they were given the option to take back their dog before any other possibility. The judge found that EDF did not follow through on this agreement. (Dogs were released to the police, for instance, rather than returned to their puppy raisers.)
Much information was presented about the “ideal age” a dog in training should be. And based on testimony from EDF staff, the judge concluded that dogs over the age of three are “too old to be trained.” All the dogs that were part of this lawsuit are presently over the age of three. One is four.
It was noted that EDF has not followed through with their mandatory number of classes (two per month) and in providing the proper staff to care for and handle the dogs. The school was closed for at least four months and staff were not on hand to carry out “the necessary training.” The puppy raisers voiced much concern over the new staff due to the lessened amount of training. The court concludes “that EDF has breached its contract with the volunteers by failing to maintain a continuing program of training and support.”
There’s a whole section on the specifics of a good faith agreement, which lists the following conditions that EDF should meet:
- Remain functioning (i.e., not close for four months)
- Make dogs the number one priority
- Acknowledge dogs which are obviously unacceptable as guide dogs due to health or temperament or obedience
- Not kennel dogs unnecessarily
- Place dogs with the blind (i.e., more than a single one in the last several years)
- Provide trainers with experience and competency and additional staff
- Taking dogs back from the trainers at the optimum age (12 to 18 months) and placing them with the blind
And concludes with the following statement: “The Court finds that EDF has failed in the above-stated obligations and has thus violated its implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing.” Furthermore, “the Court finds that the volunteers have fulfilled their obligations, express and implied. The only claimed violation of the agreements is not to have returned the dogs upon demand, but this is justified by the findings and conclusions of this Court.”
With regards to those dogs that were returned to the school — and not part of these findings — puppy raisers are still fighting with EDF. The agreement, as I understand it, that the puppy raisers had when they returned their dogs was that they would be returned to them if they were not placed as guide dogs within six months. None of the puppy raisers have had their dogs returned and some of the dogs have been released to other programs, e.g. the sheriff’s department. Without the consent of the puppy raiser. I’ll update with further information on that as I find out more.
In conclusion, the pièce de résistance, for various reasons Gwen Brown’s own lawyer wants to quit. Take from that what you will.