CHARLESTON – A Lincoln County woman is asking a judge to compel county officials to let the dogs out.

Sheriff Kenneth Farley is named as a co-defendant in a two-count civil rights suit filed by Morgan Linville. In her complaint originally filed in Lincoln Circuit Court on Feb. 19, Linville alleges Deputy Cindy Vance, who is named as the other co-defendant, earlier this year entered property she owns without a warrant and seized her dogs.

According to the suit, Linville owns property on Stowers Rd. in Griffithsville, where she kept six dogs, of unspecified ages and breeds, in an unoccupied structure. On a daily basis, Linville avers she would go to the property to care for the dogs, which included ensuring they had adequate food and water.

On an unspecified day in January, Linville alleges Vance, along with an unknown number of deputies, “broke onto [her] property, causing significant property damage, and removed and illegally took all six dogs located on the property.” Their actions, Linville says, were done without a warrant.

Attempts to get the dogs returned, she says, have been to no avail.

In addition to violation of her constitutional rights, Linville alleges as a result of Vance’s actions she’s suffered embarrassment, humiliation and extreme emotional distress. Along with an order returning the dogs, Linville seeks unspecified damages, interest, attorneys fees and court costs.

She is represented by Hamlin attorney W. Jack Stephens II.

On March 12, the case was transferred to U.S. District Court following a notice of removal filed by Farley and Vance’s attorneys, Wendy Greve and Katie H. Hicklin of the Charleston law firm Pullin, Fowler, Flanagan, Brown and Poe. Five days later, they made a motion to dismiss on the grounds that, among other things, Vance did have probable cause to enter Linville’s property after receiving a complaint from an unspecified person the dogs were being mistreated.

Also, they aver that Vance is not a deputy sheriff, but instead a process server and the county human officer.

After observing the dogs covered in feces on Dec. 28, Greve and Hicklin say, Vance along with unnamed deputies and officers from the Cabell-Wayne Animal Shelter took possession of all the dogs, plus a seventh. Though not included with the motion, Greve and Hicklin, make reference to a criminal complaint Vance filed against Linville in Lincoln Magistrate Court on animal cruelty-related charges.

Along with granting the motion, Greve and Hicklin seek recovery of their fees.

The case is assigned to Joseph R. Goodwin.

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia, case number 13-cv-4927

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