A homeless man who lives in a tent in Echo Park is suing a dog rescue organization that he says wrongfully took his longtime canine companion earlier this year and falsely claimed he abandoned the animal.
Elliot Haas' Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit alleges theft, trespass and intentional infliction of emotional distress in the suit filed Friday against Little Love Rescue and its representative, Brittney Littleton. He seeks unspecified damages an injunction preventing the defendants from harming the dog, Luna, or giving the animal to a third party.
Littleton could not be immediately reached.
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Haas lives in a tent off Glendale Boulevard and obtained Luna as his support dog in 2013 from a woman who was looking for someone to adopt the animal, the suit states. Luna suffered from "separation anxiety" and needed to be with a person who had no other dogs and could be with her all day, according to the suit.
Haas suffers from hearing loss, severe depression and anxiety, and having Luna has made him able to perform daily life activities, the suit states.
"Elliot was looking for a companion to help with his anxiety and when he met Luna, it was love at first sight," the suit states.
In January 2019, Luna suffered a seizure which left her back legs paralyzed, the suit states. Haas bought her a wheelchair with his sole source of income from his monthly general relief check, according to the suit.
In early January, Haas started working with a case worker from Homeless Health Care Los Angeles, the suits states. One of the agency's goals is to find permanent housing for their clients and their pets, according to the suit.
On Jan. 24, Haas was sitting in front of his tent when a woman and man offered him a table, which he accepted, the suit states. But when Haas turned around after setting up the table, he saw that the woman had taken Luna and placed her in the car that she and the man had arrived in, the suit states.
When Haas asked why they were taking the dog, they said they were taking the animal to a veterinarian because she appeared sick, the suit states.
"They told Elliot that Luna would be returned to him and told him that if he loved Luna, he would want to know the vet cleared her health," the suit states. "Elliot was left stunned and without skipping a beat, the man and woman got in their car and drove off with Luna."
Haas filed a police report and later learned that the people who took Luna were "friends with Brittney Littleton," the suit states.
Immediately after Luna was taken from Haas, Little Love Rescue posted on its Instagram page, and created a GoFundMe account named, "Save Luna - the Paralyzed Street Dog" to solicit donations, the suit states.
The page had "fabricated claims," alleging Luna was abandoned by her owner, the suit states.
When Haas texted Littleton in February telling her he wanted Luna back, she replied, "Her vet bill is at $6,000 so far if you want to pay it," the suit states.
Haas replied he had care set up for her and that he would email her information proving so, the suit states.
Littleton, meanwhile, raised more than $8,000 through the GoFundMe account and a Venmo mobile payment service from people who wished to cover Luna's veterinary expenses, the suit states.
On Feb. 26, the Housing Equality & Advocacy Resource Team, a public interest law firm, sent Little Love Rescue a letter stating that the organization was helping Haas in getting his pet returned, the suit states.
Not long afterward, Little Love Rescue updated its GoFundMe account and made a plea on Instagram for "legal fees," the suit states.
To date, Luna has still not been returned to Haas, and Littleton continues to raise money for Little Love Rescue, which is unregistered with the attorney general and is not designated a charitable organization, the suit states.
Little Love Rescue's website states that the organization takes in "sick, special needs, neonatal and red-listed animals" and provides them with medical care until they can be adopted. Since its inception, Little Love Rescue "has saved over 900 animals," according to the website.