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Pet Owners Head To Court To Pursue Lawsuit

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FOUNTAIN, Colo. (CBS4) – Some Colorado pet owners whose dogs died from poisoning were set to argue before the Colorado Court of Appeals on Tuesday that they should be granted a new trial.

The incident happened in 2006 in Strasburg. Five dogs died after eating chicken soaked in paraquat, a highly poisonous herbicide.

Tom Eickbush is among the group suing, which hopes with a new trial the judge would instruct the jury to establish damages beyond just what it would cost to replace their pets.

“To this day I think it was bad ranching, bad planning,” Eickbush said.

Eickbush says he found the chicken by a tree right near his property. He says it was placed there by a neighbor who says he wanted to protect his cattle from coyotes.

“It was felt that the judge used the wrong measuring stick for the amount of damages that should be paid,” said Diane Balkin, an attorney with the Animal Legal Defense Fund.

Eickbush says his son Wyatt, 9, was devastated after his dog died.

“It wrecked him and I mean it just totally wrecked him,” Eickbush said. “Because this was a little kid like you see in the movies. This was your typical boy and his dog.”

A criminal case was dismissed in the matter but the owners are pursuing a civil case for damages measured beyond the cost of a new dog.

“I don’t think anybody took this case seriously,” Eickbush said. “I don’t think anybody really took the time to investigate it, which told me that they didn’t put a lot of stock into the animals.”

On Tuesday morning Eickbush and the others who lost their dogs will have 15 minutes to argue their case. They will answer questions from the judge, who will then give them a written ruling anywhere from a few weeks to months from now.

The case is being heard at Fort Carson High School in Fountain. It’s part of the Courts in the Community program, which is designed to give high school students a hands-on experience with the Colorado justice system.

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