Former FLOCK president sues for defamation

Former FLOCK president sues for defamation

Originally published on October 19, 2007

sherri allen flock president after arrest for animal cruelty
Sheri Allen aka Sherri Allen

By CHRISTINA EICHELKRAUT
PVT

Sherri Allen, the former president of For Love of Cats and Kittens (FLOCK) has filed a lawsuit against the parent companies of KVBC Channel 3 in Las Vegas for defamation.

Troy Snow, a photographer for the Best Friends Animal Society, as well as the society itself, based in Kanab, Utah, is charged with refusing to halt the defamation.

A third claim in the complaint alleges intentional infliction of emotional distress.

According to the complaint, Allen ran the FLOCK sanctuary on Bond Street from Jan. 1, 2006, until May 30, 2007.

The sanctuary was taken over by Nye County Animal Control last July after deplorable conditions were reported at the facility.

Because more than 400 cats were sick, or at the very least dehydrated, animal control officers turned control of the facility over to Best Friends, which has posted workers and volunteers at the facility nursing cats back to health and holding adoption events.

Allen was arrested Aug. 7 and booked on charges of animal neglect after 117 cats and 11 other small animals were seized from her property.

The charges were not related to the animals found at the Bond Street sanctuary, but to her personal animals.

No formal charges have been filed against Allen for either her animals or the sanctuary.

David Wiberg, ostensibly a friend or supporter of Allen’s, videotaped Nye County Animal Control officers loading Allen’s animals into their truck.

Allen then sent the video to Channel 3, according to her brief, to “demonstrate at the time of [Allen’s] arrest ‘….the cats were in clean living condition, they were being taken care of,’ as stated on the video and on air by Mr. Wiberg.”

The next day, Channel 3 reported Allen’s arrest along with a brief recap of the sanctuary story.

A portion of the video that Allen sent the station was played during the report. However, according to the complaint, “KVBC 3 intentionally inserted several pictures of malnourished, injured and sick cats during the playing of the video … however, none of the 40 cats shown in [Allen’s] video demonstrate any neglect, starvation, filth or any other condition that is consistent with the inserted KVBC 3 pictures.”

Allen alleges that, by doing so, Channel 3 gave the impression that her arrest was due to the conditions of the FLOCK sanctuary.

In addition, Channel 3 posted the altered video on its Web site.

On Sept. 21, Allen asked Channel 3 to broadcast a retraction of the video, which they did not do and, according to the complaint, it is still on the Web site.

The photos that were inserted into Allen’s video were taken and copyrighted by Trent Snow, a photographer for Best Friends.

Since Channel 3 should have known the photos were copyrighted, Allen concluded the photos were inserted “with willful, malicious, evil and calculated intent … in order to incite public hatred, contempt, ridicule, or degradation while deliberately intending to injure [Allen’s] reputation.”

And since no credit was given to Best Friends for the photographs by Channel 3, Snow and Best Friends “may have been willing accomplices in the defamation.”

On the other hand, since the Channel 3 broadcast was also posted on the Best Friends Web site, Best Friends may have known Channel 3 was using the photographs and furthermore should have known the video contained untrue information, the lawsuit said.

Due to all of this, Allen has suffered “physical injury, loss of income, and severe mental anguish.”

Allen owns and operates Pet Cremation Services, a business she originally formed with a partner in 1995.

She is suing for $10,000 from the defendants jointly or individually, for her attorney fees, and for “further relief as is just and proper in the premises.”

Allen has continually maintained her lack of responsibility for the condition of the animals at the FLOCK facility, saying in a written statement that she resigned because she heard the former executive board, which includes current president Maggie Ward, would take control of the facility again.

There is a six-week gap between Allen’s resignation and the Nye County takeover.

According to Allen, when she left the sanctuary, the cats were healthy and the facility was clean.

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