Olathe, Kan. (WDAF) – An Olathe woman’s dog became ill and eventually died. Despite her grief, she’s the one being sued after she used Facebook to see if other dog owners using the breeder had experienced similar problems.
A south-central Kansas breeder sues aggrieved pet owner for defamation. The lawsuit has since been dismissed, but Breeder’s attorney said the case is far from over.
Toby was Mary Dixon’s first border collie.
“It’s one thing to lose a family pet. It’s another thing to lose a teammate you fought against,” he said.
Dixon said she used to bring Toby to Olathe North High School to play and practice catching Frisbee.
He bought her in 2015 from “Night Shades Border Collies” near Wichita.
“He was sick, unfortunately, when I got him,” Dixon said.
About two years later, she said Toby had several seizures in one night.
“It’s a scary thing to watch. They’re not breathing. They’re tense. They lose bladder control,” she said.
Dixon said she reached out to the breeder on Facebook for help, but was blocked. That’s when he started his page for information.
“People post horror stories, people ask themselves questions about hip dysplasia.
In a way, it became a support group,” Dixon said.
A suit for defamation
In early 2023, the owners of Nightshade Border Collies sued Dixon for defamation.
Owners Mary and Amy Gum are located in Cowley County, where the lawsuit was filed, said their attorney, Jerry Bogle.
“They’re not negative about people who are humane society workers. No one loves dogs more than they do,” Bogle said.
Bogle said he has a 13-page petition with 70 paragraphs showing Facebook comments that were negative about his clients.
“These negative things that were being said were not true, and as a result, it was causing them, in the first place, to make a living and discredit them,” Bogle said. Number two, to discredit them, not only in their line of business but also to the people they knew.
But a Cowley County judge dismissed the case, ruling in a pretrial motion that Dixon and others named in the lawsuit are protected by state law because their claims involve the defendants’ free speech rights. .
The judge also dismissed the business defamation claim, saying it “is not recognized under Kansas law.”
As for self-defamation, the judge said that Dixon and others expressed their thoughts, opinions, beliefs or experience in numerous other posts on social media, their own experiences or those reported by others, including other Breeder users. through what
The judge added that Breeder failed to show damages.
“I feel confident,” Dixon said.
The judge ordered Nightshade Border Collies to pay the defendants nearly $35,000 in legal fees. The breeder has appealed against the order.
“And when we win the appeal, those fees will disappear,” Bogle said.
‘It was terrible’
After the seizures, Dixon said Toby’s condition worsened. They tried changing his diet, his medication, eventually putting him on tap 24/7.
Dixon said he attacked their other dogs and family. That’s when a behavioral veterinarian told her there was nothing she could do and she was forced to put Toby down.
“I couldn’t keep anybody safe anymore. It was scary. As soon as I put him down, I wanted him back because he was my partner,” Dixon said.
Dixon finds room in her heart for a new border collie, Kip. He got it from a different breeder in Mississippi.
“He definitely looks like Toby,” Dixon said.
Dixon’s page is still up and running, and he thinks it’s helping people.
“In some ways, I think my page is helping, but it’s also like Yelp,” Dixon said. “If you’ve had a bad experience, you can post something on Yelp, and what was happening on my page was no different.”