Atlanta Humane Society sues woman over Internet chat room criticism

Wednesday, January 9th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. (AP) _ The Atlanta Humane Society has filed a $75,000 defamation lawsuit against a woman who called its executive director ``Mr. Kill'' in an Internet chat room.

Kathi Mills, 31, criticized Bill Garrett after a television station reported that the society was killing animals without really trying to find them homes.

Mills wrote in a Yahoo chat room that she was withdrawing her support from the society until it hires ``a leader who does not delight in slaughtering pets for fun and profit.''

According to the lawsuit, Mills also said: ``Bill Garrett is not worthy to lick the dog or cat poop off our shoes. He is evil and it is time for the Atlanta rescue community to unite in ending his long and tragic career.''

Mills, who runs an animal advocacy Web site from her home, said her comments were harsh but are protected by the Constitution.

``The fundamental issue here is that I was criticizing (Garrett's) performance, and the First Amendment guarantees I can do this,'' she said. ``They picked the wrong person. I'm prepared to fight it all the way.''

Garrett's attorney, Edward Greenblatt, said the comments were untrue and malicious.

``I'm a strong believer in the freedom of speech, but it does have its limitation,'' Greenblatt said.