It's more than a house. It's an adventure.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Dog Update - it's getting interesting.

I contacted the town animal control officer today, and learned volumes about our canine visitors. Actually, I spoke with his wife first.

She confirmed for me that yes, the village does have a leash law. I started telling her about the dogs that we had this morning, starting with the German Sheperd. She then said "and the other one is a pit bull, right?" Woah, waitaminit...pit bull?

OK, yeah, it makes sense. It was an aggressive dog, which matches with my first thought of "rottweiler mix". But it had bluish-grey, very short fur. That's not consistent with rottweilers. Looking back on it, I think I can see some pit bull in that dog I saw. Granted, I didn't look at it very closely - I was switching my vision between the pit bull, the GSD, the owner, and making sure my escape route remained clear. But it makes sense.

So, I related to her the whole story - we saw the dogs roaming free, right up to the house, one defecated in the back yard, I asked the owner to please keep them out of the yard, his weak response, the whole thing.

She then told me that I'm at least the 4th person to call about these dogs, and that they've been trying to take action against the owner for over a year. Trouble is, the previous 3 callers were single women, and the dog's owner isn't exactly the nicest guy - she thinks these women had been intimidated out of signing a formal complaint.

She also stated that they'd tried to have a police officer sit on the block to watch for them, and then he could file the complaint, but certain legal resources were concerned that it could be construed as entrapment (how, I have no idea). The pit bull had been "locked up" in the past by her husband, and the owner actually broke into the Humane Society and liberated it - a stunt which earned him 3 years of probation.

On top of all this, the dogs' owner also knows the animal control officer's "day job" schedule quite well, and actually schedules his dog walks such that he only does it when the officer isn't in town at all!

I got a wealth of information from the animal control officer's wife, and my eyes were wide open. I thanked her profusely for the information, and we closed the call with me arranging for her husband to call me between 4 and 5 to discuss the matter in a more official capacity.

My cell rang at 4:01 PM. I'm liking this guy already. I restated what I observed, and he filled me in with the backstory, including some more details that his wife hadn't told me (I sprinkled these in above, as I don't recall exactly what each of them told me individually). I told him I wasn't looking to stir anything up, just to make sure that laws are being followed and that the neighborhood remained safe. He, on the other hand, wanted to make sure that this recurring problem would be taken care of.

We continued to review the situation. I told him that while the pit bull hadn't made a move toward me, he was acting aggressively, barking profusely directly at me. I don't want it to sound like I'm prejudiced against this breed, but let's face it, pit bulls have a reputation for a reason. The officer concurred, and told me that any dog's behavior is a product of his environment. Good owners have good dogs. Idiot owners have idiot dogs. He allowed me to draw my own conclusions from that. In a similar vein, he informed me that although the owner does not have a criminal record, and there have been no complaints filed against him personally for harming or threatening to harm people or property, he does have a reputation as being a very strong intimidator. And I should be aware of this before taking the "case" too far - if it's truly going to be a worry, I may want to take that into consideration.

So, next steps. The animal control officer said that he was concerned that just a signed written formal complaint may have trouble when it reaches the bench, for reasons unknown to him (it should be enough to at least start a new round of action). The defecation would be tough to take to court anyway - I can't just point at a pile of poo and say "that dog did it". I suggested to him that I could take pictures, and he was nearly giddy. He wanted to make sure that it wasn't a bother - I told him "I've got a digital camera and they were right outside the bedroom window. It costs me nothing except getting up half an hour earlier." I even told him that this morning I could have gotten a terrific picture of the german shepherd squatting right in the yard, which would take care of the defecation situation too!

We left it at this: I'll try to get pictures this week. If I can't get anything, we'll attempt to continue with the written complaint Monday or Tuesday. The officer was very happy to hear that someone was seriously interested in pursuing the matter; as I noted above, this has been a nuisance for quite a while.

I started considering "protection" - not a firearm, but at least some kind of repellent to keep on hand in case things get ugly. My first thought, of course, was pepper spray. However, according to Wikipedia, pit bulls are not adversely affected by capsaicin. So that thought's right out. I'll have to talk to our postman on Saturday and find out what it is that he carries. And ask if he's seen anything. I'm also going to let our neighbor with young children know what's going on so that she's aware, and have her keep an eye on things for me.

Further updates as events and conditions warrant.


  • Mace works on dogs, but you may or may not be able to get it in New York.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5/22/2006 10:36 PM  

  • You *really* do not have to post the pics, okay? ;)

    By Blogger El Gee, at 5/22/2006 10:55 PM  

  • Fairly sure Mace is either illegal, or requires a special permit, in NY.

    el gee, which pix do you not want? I wasn't planning on posting any pix that might end up being used for legal action, at least till the case is settled.

    By Blogger dakboy, at 5/23/2006 5:49 AM  

  • I was joking about the dog poo pix ;)

    By Blogger El Gee, at 5/24/2006 6:50 AM  

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