Brooke Houts is under fire for uploading a 50-second video to her popular YouTube channel, which appears to show her abusing her Doberman. The internet sensation, 20, has since issued an apology, claiming she is not an animal abuser. However, the Los Angeles Police Department is looking into the matter, according to CNN.
HollywoodLife called on California lawyer David B. Casselman — who has 35 years experience representing animals, pro bono, including the case involving Billy the elephant at the LA Zoo, which went all the way to the California Supreme Court — to weigh in on the controversy. After observing the video, Casselman tells us that it’s unlikely Brooke will have her pet Doberman taken, let alone face any type of charges concerning the alleged abuse. He explains why in an exclusive interview with HollywoodLife, as seen below.
Could Brooke lose her dog because of the video? (i.e. could humane society take the animal away?) — “It is highly unlikely for several reasons,” Casselman says, before providing three reasons as to why Brooke could remain owner of the dog. “First, it is not evident that she has harmed the dog in any way. She obviously lacks training and experience,” Casselman explains. “But, the dog was not yelping and seemed to think it was all just play. Second, the Humane Society is a private organization that has no authority to take away someone’s dog. Third, absent a violation of law, it is unlikely that a prosecutor or a Court would intervene under any circumstances like those shown in this video.”
Can Brooke be charged with any crime? — “Again, although what she is doing on camera, pushing and yelling at her dog, is unwise, reflects the absence of any behavioral training appropriate for animals and lacks sensitivity, the criminal law would not normally apply where there is no clear injury to the animal,” the lawyer explains.
Is there any type of penalty for what is seen in the video? — “If someone actually abuses their dog, causing damage, there are a variety of criminal penalties that could apply,” Casselman says, adding, “Losing custody of the dog would be mild punishment where someone cruelly injures an animal, without legal justification.”
Will Brooke be placed on a list that would prohibit her from adopting another animal? — “Most adoption agencies do not have access to any lists of that kind. They usually do their best to ask pertinent questions of prospective owners, but no one who is going to cause harm to their animal is likely to admit abusing another animal,” Casselman explains. “So, unfortunately, even if her actions were found to be criminally abusive, it would probably not appear on any list which pet organizations would have access to in order to prevent her from buying or adopting another animal.”