PRINCETON – A Princeton pet store owner says animals seized from his shop by Mercer County officials never were returned to him.
Donald Owens filed his complaint in Mercer Circuit Court against Mercer County Sheriff’s Department, Detective R.M. Combs, Mercer County Animal Shelter and Director Tracy Monniger.
Owens owned and operated Jungle Lagoon and sold, among other species, domestic reptiles. On Aug. 29, 2013, he says the defendants executed a search warrant on his business and seized all of the animals. The warrant authorized the seizure of “any and all sick animals in need of medical care.”
“The seizure of all of the plaintiff’s animals exceeded the scope of the search warrant and was an unauthorized seizure of the plaintiff’s property,” the complaint states. “None of the animals seized received the care of a licensed veterinarian.”
Owens was charged with the misdemeanor offense of cruelty to animals, but was acquitted by a Mercer County jury.
None of his animals were returned, he says.
“The plaintiff’s animals were given away or were improperly cared for and perished … and are now not available to be returned,” the complaint states. “The defendants failed to ensure proper care of the plaintiff’s improperly seized animals.”
Besides the loss of the animals, Owens says the damages he has incurred include the loss of his business and future profits. He seeks compensatory damages.
Owens is being represented by Charleston attorney Shannon M. Bland of Bland & Bland. The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge William J. Sadler.
Mercer Circuit Court case number: 15-C-309