A Prairie Village couple have sued Mission Hills after coyote traps set in a Johnson County park caught and injured their two dogs earlier this year.
Elisabeth J. Kirsch and Douglas Drake, husband and wife, filed the lawsuit last week in Johnson County District Court accusing Mission Hills of gross, wanton negligence as well as intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress.
They contend the city knew of the risk and dangers to the public and chose to do it anyway. They seek an unspecified amount in damages.
Jennifer Lee, Mission Hills’ city administrator, declined to comment on the lawsuit, saying the city does not comment on pending litigation.
According to the suit, Kirsch was walking her dog Fred, a shepherd mix, and Oreo, a Boston terrier, in the park when they were snared by the traps, which the couple contend caused serious, painful and permanent injuries.
Both dogs required surgery for their injuries, with Oreo having 21 teeth extracted and Fred having 14 teeth extracted and repair of a split tongue. The injuries will require continued veterinary treatment and care, according to the suit.
Kirsch contends she was seriously and permanently injured as she tried unsuccessfully to free her trapped dogs. The injuries included her shoulders, neck and toe as well as a puncture wound to her arm. Drake also suffered unspecified serious and permanent injuries, according to the lawsuit.
They also both suffered extreme and severe emotional distress injuries, according to the suit. For Drake, the injuries he suffered interfered with his recovery from an unspecified medical condition, according to the suit.
They contend, among other things, that the city created a dangerous condition in the park by “placing baited, hidden metal foothold traps” there and putting people and pets at risk of serious injuries.
They contend the city failed to post proper warning signs to alert the public or to block the area to prevent people from unknowingly walking in or around the traps, according to the suit.
The couple contend the city lacked the authority, licensing or permits to place the traps, and ignored the advice of experts on trapping and killing the coyotes. They also contend Mission Hills placed the city arborist in charge of the trapping efforts, despite lacking the necessary training and experience, after qualified trappers declined to do so, the lawsuit said.
Although Lee said the city doesn’t comment on pending litigation, she referenced a story The Star published shortly after the dogs had been injured, which included a statement provided by the city.
The city had set up the traps in Peetwood Park, near West 65th Terrace and Indian Lane, after receiving complaints about coyotes that have killed or injured pets and followed walkers, the city said in the statement. They had consulted with the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks and began trapping aggressive coyotes.
In accordance with city ordinance, five signs were posted around the trapping location on Jan. 26, one week before the traps were set. The city also mailed notices to residents in the area.
The traps were set in an unmaintained area of the park, which is generally accessible from one direction, Lee said.
The dogs were off-leash when they became trapped, the city said. Animal control workers arrived about 20 minutes after being called to the park to release the dogs from the traps.
The signs and traps were removed after the dogs were injured.
The Star’s Katie Moore provided some reporting for this story.