SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Pet owners whose dogs and cats were thrown to their deaths from a bridge have filed a multimillion dollar lawsuit against the company that took the animals away and others they claimed were involved in the killings.
The $22.5 million claim was filed in federal court Friday against Puerto Rico's public housing director, the municipality of Barceloneta, its mayor, the owner of a private animal control company and several others.
The 45 plaintiffs — whose pets were snatched this month when local authorities enforced a no-pet rule in the island's public housing — are seeking $500,000 each.
Animal control workers seized dozens of dogs and cats from three housing projects in northwestern Puerto Rico on Oct. 8 and 10, beating, drugging, and then launching at least 50 of the animals to their deaths off a bridge, the lawsuit claims.
The lawsuit says the owners had to watch as their animals were taken, injected with "unknown chemicals" and slammed into vehicles.
"The family pets that survived the initial brutality were thrown from a bridge," it says.
Police have confirmed the involvement of Animal Control Services.
A telephone message seeking comment on the lawsuit from the office of the company's owner, Julio Diaz, was not immediately returned. Diaz earlier this week said the animals were taken to his offices near San Juan, euthanized and placed in refrigerators — not hurled from the Vega Baja bridge.
Barceloneta Mayor Sol Luis Fontanes, who is also named in the suit, told The Associated Press Saturday that he had urged pet owners to file complaints with the police.
"I understand that it's fair and reasonable that they proceed to a lawsuit," Fontanes said.
He confirmed that Animal Control Services, the municipality of Barceloneta and the public housing administration were involved, but declined further comment.
The investigation is ongoing and no arrests have been made.