MD breeder wins ownership battle with NBA player, brother of show dogs

Vickie Venzen and her dog, Congo, are shown with attorney Garrett E. Brierley after successfully defending themselves against a lawsuit filed by NBA player Jabari Parker and his brother, Christian Parker. (photo added)

A lawsuit filed by an NBA player and his brother against a professional dog breeder in Maryland ended last week in victory for the breeder, who turned out to be the real owner of the two huge dogs. high-end exposure at the center of the dispute. .

Vickie Venzen, who runs Vickie’s handling and training services at Abingdon, will be able to keep the pair of cane corso dogs whose ownership has been disputed by Jabari Parker, a power forward who recently played for the Boston Celtics, and his brother, Christian Parker, in the 2020 lawsuit.

Harford County Circuit Judge Yolanda L. Curtin dismissed all of Parkers’ claims against Venzen in an opinion issued last week. Curtin discovered that Christian Parker had purchased the two dogs in question, Shera and Congo, for Venzen as payment for dog handling services she had provided for three years.

Parker had no stake in the dogs as he claimed in the lawsuit, Curtin said. The judge dismissed Jabari Parker, who also claimed ownership of the dogs in the complaint, as a plaintiff at an earlier stage in the civil trial.

Christian Parker spent $45,000 to purchase the two dogs in 2019, according to evidence presented in the case. Venzen had spent the past three years providing extensive, long-term assistance to Parker as he attempted to break into the world of cane corso handling and breeding, according to Curtin’s factual findings.

Venzen helped Parker find and purchase several cane corso dogs, which are an Italian breed of mastiff believed to have been used as dogs of war during the Roman Empire. Parker relied heavily on Venzen to take care of the dogs because he was an inexperienced dog owner, Curtin found.

The value of Venzen’s services over those three years was about $57,000, Curtin said. The judge found that Venzen and Parker had entered into an informal agreement that Parker would buy Shera and Congo and give them to Venzen as payment for his work.

Parker was also supposed to receive certain benefits from the deal, including a litter of puppies from Shera and a pup sired by Congo, Curtin found. The puppies bred by the dogs are worth thousands of dollars, as are stud services for male dogs.

Curtin’s findings relied on Venzen’s testimony and text messages between Venzen and Parker as there was no written agreement for ownership of the dogs. Curtin denied the breach of contract, unjust enrichment and conversion allegations the Parkers had made against Venzen.

” I am delighted. I couldn’t have asked for a better result,” said Venzen, nationally recognized for her work with the cane corso breed. “It’s unfortunate that all of this had to happen, but the reality is that the dog community is very ‘dog eat dog’, so I’m glad Judge Curtin was able to see through the big names, the money and the falsehoods and essentially nullify the dogs.”

Attorney Eric S. Lickstein, who represented the Parkers in the lawsuit, said the case shows the importance of written contracts.

“At the end of the day, it’s a lesson that no matter what, you should always have a written contract, especially when you’re paying someone $45,000,” Lickstein said.

Garrett E. Brierley, a Towson attorney who represented Venzen, said in a statement that the plaintiffs’ case was “all bark, no bite.”

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