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Animal shelter volunteer awarded $6.8 million after being mauled by dog, nearly having arm ripped off

Animal shelter volunteer awarded $6.8 million after being mauled by dog in 2019
Animal shelter volunteer awarded $6.8 million after being mauled by dog in 2019 02:58

A woman who nearly had her arm ripped off when she was mauled by a dog while volunteering at an animal shelter in 2019 has been awarded nearly $7 million in a lawsuit that found the city of Los Angeles liable for gross negligence. 

"The truth was on our side," said Kelly Kaneko, the 36-year-old woman who was volunteering at the Los Angeles Animal Services facility in Lincoln Heights nearly four years ago when a dog bit her arm and latched on for more than five minutes.. "It was very emotional. It's been a long journey."

She was initially brought to the shelter out of the caring and compassion she feels for animals, especially after learning that facilities across the Southland were shorthanded on help. 

"Animals have always been a big part of my life," Kaneko said while speaking with KCAL News. "So, when I heard most of the dogs didn't get out of their kennels for months at a time, it really broke my heart."

The kennel Jaxx was being kept in at the LA Animal Services facility in Lincoln Heights.  Ivan Puchalt

Kaneko hopes that the verdict and her story are enough to inspire change within the city's animal services department, which has run into controversy in recent years. 

Back in October 2019, Kaneko was putting Jaxx, a 100-pound German Shepherd mix, inside of a kennel  when he bit her, nearly ripping her arm off. 

"This animal, very sadly ended up in the shelter. He loved a family very much and his journey ended up really badly," she said. "So, he affected my journey as well."

As she searched the facility for help, Kaneko dragged herself and the dog, still latched onto her arm, for more than five minutes. 

"It's a big victory that my arm is still attached to my body," she said. 

Now, years later, Kaneko was awarded $6.8 million by a jury on Wednesday that found the city of Los Angeles liable for gross negligence, since Jaxx's intake card had no information on his history, which could have warned her of prior aggressive incidents, which included biting his previous owner. 

"Kelly would have been able to read the comments about the dog," said Kaneko's attorney Ivan Puchalt. "Or, she would have been able to know that this was an aggressive dog that as a volunteer she shouldn't walk."

Intake card for Jaxx.

"There's no way that Kelly would have walked the dog had any of those things been done. Puchalt said."

According to the Los Angeles Times, Jaxx was euthanized months after the attack. 

Kaneko still suffers lingering effects of the incident, including some nerve damage, and she still has more surgeries planned in the future. Even so, her devotion to animals hasn't changed. 

"I was born with a love for animals and I will die with a love for animals."

The Los Angeles City Attorney's Office was unavailable when contacted for comment on the matter. 

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