Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Hounds of Hell, Part II

I was truly shocked to see the number of followers I lost over a twitter I posted regarding the most recent dog charging incident involving the two dogs who aggressively attacked me back in July of last year. I had no idea that this was such a polarizing topic. I have lost a follower here or there (probably because I am too boring), but I have never lost a wave of them like this, all referencing the same twitter post where I mentioned I was going to legally pursue the owner of the very same dogs who so viciously attacked me previously.

Let me explain: I am trying to use "they system" properly to protect and defend myself (and other future victims) against another harmful attack by these dogs. I thought perhaps I should review my story here. I considered posting some pictures of the bite wound at day 1 and day 7, but decided against putting so much of my bare thigh and derriere on the public Internet. Not that it matters, since the followers are already gone and I won't be responding to angry direct messages, but I need to rant for a moment for my sanity's sake.

I am an animal lover, owning several pets (including dogs) now and in the past. I love my pets so much, in fact, my mother used to say she wished that she could be re-incarnated as one of my animals. Because pet ownership is such a great responsibility, I treat them with gentleness and thoroughly cover all possible needs.

I am not interested in pursuing the owner OR the dogs after the July incident and following court dates if the dogs had never again been unleashed to roam outside their property or some how had remedial behaviour when out and about. The only reason I am going back to pursue the one option I had left open after the last court date is the dogs attempted another attack a few days ago; one in which I was prepared this time and managed to fend off without having my blood drawn by these savage beasts AGAIN.

As it happened a few days ago, they were lying in the street outside of their property (vehicle traffic is minimal there; one reason it is a favorite running spot). As they saw me approach while running, they were immediately charging towards me, not just barking, but growling and snarling in a very frightening manner. As they reached me, the more aggressive one lunged up for me, and I backhanded it away. I ended up stomping my feet loudly, throwing up my arms and yelling, growling back like a feral beast and stomped towards them. A bit of this showy display and I was able to chase them back into their yard. They didn't immediately stay, I had to repeat this a few times. Eventually, I was able to continue my run. Shall I mention what a quick two miles home that was?

Upon arrival at my residence, I immediately called the same animal control number I was given during the previous dog attack. As they began to take a report, upon learning that blood had NOT been drawn this time, they declined to complete the report. When I explained the nature of the previous attack, I was interrupted and told that attack was no longer relevant. In fact, the only way to get animal control involved again was if blood were drawn a second time. (This is in a rural county area.)

I called the Sheriff's department non-emergency number. They have yet to return my call. I declined to call 9-1-1, as this was not truly an emergency that required that kind of response, and I really do not want to abuse the system, I just want it to work for me.

I then called my attorney... the point at which my reflective tweet lost the large wave of followers.

So, here are my choices:

1. Not run there anymore
2. Allow the dogs to draw blood AGAIN and then file another report
3. Attempt to use the legal system and see if I can get the dogs restrained in any way

The first is simply not an option to me. I refuse to bend to fear; in fact this makes me quite angry to feel this fear which is quite real and justified. I have done nothing wrong here, and shouldn't have to change my behaviour. Additionally, as I know the dogs well enough--and have the deposition of another runner also attacked on file with the court--I realize that they can do serious harm to another human being. Their charging IS with malicious intent to harm or maim what they see as a threat--even when not on their property. On some level, I believe it is my moral responsibility to enforce the requirement that the owner properly secure the dogs. Someone else IS going to get hurt by these creatures.

The second is just not an option. I'm not allowing another painful wound. The one that I have was into the muscle, and caused me considerable bruising and pain for weeks. When animal control took the report, they classified the injury as "severe," the highest classification available on their form. I still carry a scar. Allow that to happen again? I don't think so.

So that leaves me with option three. When we left the court, the owner pled "guilty" to not restraining his dogs and was fined approximately $200, which he paid on the spot and walked away. This is what I referenced as "a slap on the wrist" (in the tweet that lost the followers). He was instructed to keep his dogs in his yard. That's it. The judge told us we could contact the homeowner's insurance and pursue the matter civilly. We did not at the time, but this is the option I am choosing now (in the same tweet, this was the option that has lost me the wave of followers).

Let me point out that if a HUMAN had attacked me in such a vicious way, I would have more legal recourse. I really want the system to work here for me. I want to continue running on public roads, and not be harrassed or attacked by animals who have proven to be dangerous. I am mystified why I lost followers over this; I am not trying to be mean or harm anyone. But, such is life. Thanks for letting me vent.


RunColo said...

I agree with you 100%, the fact that the owner did not learn his lesson the first time and secure his animals is reason enough to pursue legal action.

The problem that I have found is that in general, people who own mean dogs, Pit Bulls, et al. are also the type of people who have a blatant disrespect for the law.

Rick said...

I can't believe people would leave over that twit. Good riddance!

The thing I find offensive in all of this is the lack of response of the public servants that our tax dollars pays for. This is not petty, somebody WILL get hurt, possibly worse next time.

It's a shame you have to go for their insurance company. There should be no insurance for willful negligence. You should be able to go directly after the dog owner.

rundangerously said...

good riddance to the people who sided w/the dog owner and his ill-tempered pets! i'm astonished that even one person could make such lame choice.

go after that dog owner w/ everything you've got at your disposal.

the public officials that insist in more "blood being drawn" before they take action may be unpleasantly surprised at what awaits them when the lawyer for any second victim of those dogs learns about their callous indifference!

Sharneysrun said...

I TOTALLY agree with you Alex! I am so sorry to hear that you have lost followers just because you are trying to have a safe run. Totally amazing!! It also amazes me that the owner still continues to allow his dogs to roam free after the first altercation! That is totally irresponsible! Definitely fight for what you believe in. You shouldn't have to change your running route to accommodate vicious animals.

I went for my first asphalt run today- just a little over a mile. It went better than I expected, but I definitely felt harder! I was quite winded in the beginning and was definitely ready to stop come one mile! I feel like a newbie all over again. Oh well, I suppose it will come back in time :-)

Have a great day and thanks for the email :-)

runner-grrl said...

RunColo, Thanks for the visit and the comment. I'm sure also that there is also a trend in how the mean dogs can be correlated to mean owners... --Alex

runner-grrl said...

Rick, Thanks for the support! Indeed this is frustrating, as I have the expectation that the system will work on my behalf in this situation. It just seems like that is not happening. But, time will tell! --Alex

runner-grrl said...

Rundangerously, Thanks for the support! I've no doubt there will be another victim. --Alex

runner-grrl said...

Sharon, Thanks for the supportive comments! I'm so glad the asphalt run went well :-) Thanks for the update on the run! I do have a few suggestions for you--I'll try to get them out in an email tomorrow. Take care! --Alex

Sharneysrun said...

Thanks, Alex! Any tips would be greatly appreciated- I feel like I'm back at square one again!! Talk to you soon :-)

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to let you know that you are NO way in the wrong on this one. There are leash laws for this reason. I have had a few scary episodes while running with unleashed dogs. One of the episodes was being backed up against a house by 2 rottweilers. Thank goodness a woman drove by and I was able to jump into her car while the dogs CHASED the car as we drove away. The other incident was 3 dogs with no collars surrounded me pack-style. I had pepper spray with me (thank goodness!) and as the one right in front of me growled and approached I sprayed him, he yelped and ran off and the other 2 followed. It is terrifying to be chased/surrounded/attached by dogs. There is NO excuse. If people want to own dogs, they should be responsible and keep them in a fenced-in yard or leashed. Period. I'm so sorry you have gone through this twice with the same animals. I sure hope that you are able to get this taken care of.

runner-grrl said...

Anonymous, Thanks so much for sharing your experience! Glad your close encounters didn't resolve in anything worse.. yikes! Got my HR up just reading about it.

A quick update: We have talked with the homeowners insurance, and we are progressing along at least. If nothing else, the owner will be forced to more safely restrain his animals to his property, or not be able to acquire / retain home-owners insurance. Hope they have pepper spray when they go to take the pictures this week... --Alex