WASHINGTON, La. (KLFY) – A St. Landry Parish man is speaking out and filing a lawsuit after getting a ticket, but what’s so bizarre is the ticket was for his dog not wearing a seat belt.
Eric Champagne first took to Facebook about his complaint about a Washington Police Officer named Anthony Veal. He stated the following, “I made sure he knew I would see him in court and that it would be a cold day in hell before they see a dollar from me over that!”
The question Champagne keeps asking is, “How can that be a law that your dog is buckled in? Where does it say that the dog needs a seatbelt?”
He said he was in the Family Dollar store to get some things and heard his name being called from a walkie-talkie by the police officer. The officer said someone reported Champagne was swerving on the Grand Prairie Hwy.
“Kind of confused, and I went to look at the ticket when he gave it to me, and it said careless operations and no seatbelt for your dog. So I was like, what’s going on?” he said. “I never heard of it being a law that your dog has to have a seatbelt and I guess according to him not only is it a law but he doesn’t even have to see it to ticket me for it. As long as a civilian said it happened, he has to take their word for it.”
Champagne explained he had his dog with a seatbelt in the car but the office did not listen. “I get laughed at for having a dog seatbelt. You know you spoiled your dog too much. I didn’t think that wasn’t a common law. If that was a law, you would see it a lot more often,” he said.
“No kind of seat belt for a dog would prevent them from getting hurt in an event of a wreck because the seatbelt for a human goes against their whole body. This dog seatbelt everyone I’ve seen hooks up to their collar or hornet. You’re still going to have injuries.”
Officer Anthony Veal, who Champagne said is a Black male, said, “the way police are in this day and age… it’s not a race issue, it’s a power issue, in my opinion, and I’m scared of what’s going to happen to me.”
He added that at first did not want to say anything because he was scared he would have been thrown in jail, and his dog French Bulldog Rebel would have been sent to the dog pound.
Upset with the citation, Champagne is planning on filing a lawsuit on Monday. He said the “nonsense ticketing” has other residents scared.
“Definitely not going to try to get seen about behind closed doors. I want it to go all the way because it’s getting to the point where my family, friends, and even the residents out here in Grand Prairie who want to be part of Washington town; gas being so high like it is we’re going way out the way to avoid the nonsense out there.”
He said he hopes his story can bring change within the department where there is supervision and knowledge of the law.
“These ain’t no $50, $60 tickets. These are $300, $400 tickets we’re talking about,” he said. “I hope that other people who received nonsense tickets like this can come forward and say that they did, and maybe they can put a stop to this.”
News 10 reached out to Police Chief Latoya Trent, and she had no comments at the time of publishing.