Dog-day defamation duly dismissed


A Wisconsin judge dismissed charges from a dog trainer who accused a Madison TV station, its owner and a reporter, Christine Leonard, of destroying his business. Benedek Broadcasting's WMTV(TV) had done a story in 1997 that concerned the death of a dog shortly after being in the trainer's care.

Leonard's story did not say that Frank Allison killed Angelia Mach's Doberman, Chance, but the trainer maintained that it strongly implied it. Following the dog's death, an autopsy determined that a pre-existing heart condition and recent trauma were the causes of death.

In granting the media defendants' summary-judgment motions, according to station attorney Robert Dreps, the judge ruled that, even if a jury determined that the story said that the dog died from the trainer's treatment, the plaintiff could not meet his burden of proving the story false.