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It’s hard to imagine a more famous dog in the H Street NE area than Vaughn the doberman. After being seized by police last year, allegedly over a neighborhood dispute, the large dog has returned to owner Mark Thorp and the bars Thorp runs.
“[Vaughn] is like a local celebrity on H Street,” says attorney Matthew LeFande, who represents Thorp. “People go to this bar to play with Vaughn, and he’s a very energetic, very large dog.”
According to a new lawsuit, though, not everyone who encounters Vaughn at one of Thorp’s bars comes away happy. Thorp is already being sued by one woman who claims that Vaughn attacked her at Thorp’s bar Little Miss Whiskey’s last September. Now a new lawsuit filed alleges that the dog attacked another woman, this time at Thorp’s Jimmy Valentine’s Lonely Hearts Club.
Bar customer Kathleen Moran was sitting on a couch at Jimmy Valentine’s next to the dog one night in July 2015, according to the new suit. When Moran went to pet Vaughn, though, the dog allegedly responded with violence.
“Without any provocation, Vaughn violently attacked and bit [Moran] in her face, causing gashes to the outside of her eye, cheek, and lip,” the lawsuit reads.
For LeFande, who had custody of Vaughn during part of the legal dispute over his care, it’s hard to imagine the dog attacking someone. LeFande claims that the lawsuits amount to “litigation trolling.” Still, LeFande says that interactions between drunk patrons and the large doberman might not always end perfectly for everyone involved. Play with a big dog, LeFande says, and you might get “a snout in the eye.”
“The dog is an absolute sweetheart, but he’s huge and he’s hyperactive,” LeFande says. “And you go down and you try to get a selfie with the dog after you’ve had a couple drinks in you, you might get knocked over. I’m not surprised by that.”
Attorney Ari Casper, who represents both of the women suing Thorp and his bars, provided me with a picture of Lauren Trahan, the first woman to sue Thorp. The picture, purportedly taken shortly after the alleged attack, appears to show Trahan with blood running down an area near her eye and onto her shirt, along with what looks like cuts around her eye.
In the new lawsuit, Casper alleges that Vaughn has attacked bar customers and employees in the past. Now he’s looking for more people who may have been attacked by the dog.
“Mr. Thorp has shown a complete disregard for the safety of others by continuing to bring this animal to his establishment,” Casper said in a statement.