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Old 05-17-11, 03:28 PM   #1
TomD77
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An hour in court over dog attack

Almost 2 months ago I started this thread (link) over an encounter with a dog (and owner) in a leash law area. Turns out the dog owner decided to contest his citations from the county animal control so a court date was scheduled and I received a subpoena as a witness.

Yesterday was the day. This being a county ordnance violation, it wasn't exactly Federal Court. The 1st case was two adjoining homeowners arguing endlessly (45 minutes) about who was dumping grass clippings on the other before the judge lost his temper and kicked them both out telling them to work it out themselves.

I perked up on the 3rd case because it was a biker who had filed complaint against a dog owner because of the dog entering the public right of way to chase him, a duplicate of my case. The case immediately degenerated into a "my dog would never leave the yard" vs "yes he did", "no he didn't", etc, etc. The judge dismissed the case saying he couldn't rule to convict based only on no other evidence than disputed testimony.

"Interesting", I thought. My turn was next, I gave my statement and then the animal control officer gave her statement; the judge turned to the accursed (joke) and asked for his side of the story as I wondered how much attention he had been paying to case #3. Apparently not much because the first words out of his mouth were "One of my dogs likes to chase them bicycles but I was in the front yard watching when he (me) came by and that dog barely got in the road. He barely got over the white line and didn't chase him more than 100 feet cause I hollered at the dog". Which military General was it who said something to the effect of never disturb your opponent when he is in the process of defeating himself?

Why contest the tickets when his first words were an admission of guilt?

Any rate, he got a fine, don't know exactly how much. Hopefully enough to convince him to control the dogs, I've been cut off from one of my favorite routes for some time. I've seen from afar his dogs in the road two other times since the original incident.

The main thing I learned is that, at least locally, you need some sort of collaboration to make a vicious animal charge stick. Pictures, additional witnesses, something. Don't think you can count on the owner voluntarily hanging himself very often. In my case, I think I'll drive past his house in my car a few times with a camera handy. This is a leash law area and only a 100 yards or so from the local bike trailhead.
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Old 05-17-11, 03:53 PM   #2
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Thanks for the update,TomD77.
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Old 05-17-11, 04:36 PM   #3
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He should be in jail for letting his dog chase people, let alone the assault on the animal control officer.
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Old 05-17-11, 04:54 PM   #4
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Is there a limit to the length of a leash?
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Old 05-17-11, 05:18 PM   #5
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Who's afraid of the big bad wolf?

Years ago I inherited a chicken killing malmute from a friend who lived in a farming community. Spent $1200 fencing my back yard so the dog could stay outside. The dog figured out how to climb over a 5 foot fence!

Beautiful dog, very friendly, wouldn't hurt a flea, but when he chased kids, because he wanted to play, he looked like the Big Bad Wolf attacking.

After a couple of incidents, I let the animal control officer keep the dog, rather than pay the fine, because even if I paid the fine, I would still need to find a more suitable home for the dog. The animal control officer assured me that the dog was too nice to destroy and that he would find the dog a good home.

Sad to see him go, but the dog just wasn't the right animal for our situation. Other pet owners should have such insight.
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Old 05-17-11, 06:24 PM   #6
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Is there a limit to the length of a leash?
And does the other end need to be attached to someone or something?

The latest thing in a park I ride through, is to have the dog on a leash, then let it run, dragging the leash behind it. The dog's on a leash, right?
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Old 05-17-11, 07:38 PM   #7
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We see that all the time!
R&J
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Old 05-17-11, 08:12 PM   #8
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He should be in jail for letting his dog chase people, let alone the assault on the animal control officer.
My Dad actually went one better than jail for a dog owner once. In his frail years, he would still walk his dog around the neighborhood, on a leash. A few blocks away, an owner routinely let his Lab run loose which would always get into fights with our dog. After many complaints, a cop finally showed up. When he checked on the other dog, he was running loose. So, the owner (hubby) got a ticket. The cop came back and told dad to call him if there was any more trouble.

Things went well for about 6 weeks, then the dog was running loose again. After 2 or 3 incidents, Dad called the cop again. The cop came, took a report and called back in about an hour, saying he thought the problem would now be solved. He had gone to the neighbors house with a bench warrant for failure to appear for "owner of dog" in hand. the guys wife answered the door and said yes, she was the owner of the dog. So, in her robe and slippers, she was cuffed and taken to jail. At the time the cop called, she was in the "tank" waiting for bail with drunks, prostitutes, etc.

So, once in a while, justice happens. All it takes is a cop who knows how people work who had the presence of mind to make the ticket out to "owner of dog" bk
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Old 05-17-11, 08:13 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by skilsaw View Post
Years ago I inherited a chicken killing malmute from a friend who lived in a farming community. Spent $1200 fencing my back yard so the dog could stay outside. The dog figured out how to climb over a 5 foot fence.
I used to have a neighbor who owned a dinky little dog like a toy poodle. He decided to fence his back yard to keep the dog in. He is the kind of guy who is really handy with tools and did a professional job of erecting a 4' chain link fence. The first time he let the dog out she ran up to the fence, took a good look at it and immediately jumped to the top and over it.
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Old 05-17-11, 11:50 PM   #10
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My Dad actually went one better than jail for a dog owner once. In his frail years, he would still walk his dog around the neighborhood, on a leash. A few blocks away, an owner routinely let his Lab run loose which would always get into fights with our dog. After many complaints, a cop finally showed up. When he checked on the other dog, he was running loose. So, the owner (hubby) got a ticket. The cop came back and told dad to call him if there was any more trouble.

Things went well for about 6 weeks, then the dog was running loose again. After 2 or 3 incidents, Dad called the cop again. The cop came, took a report and called back in about an hour, saying he thought the problem would now be solved. He had gone to the neighbors house with a bench warrant for failure to appear for "owner of dog" in hand. the guys wife answered the door and said yes, she was the owner of the dog. So, in her robe and slippers, she was cuffed and taken to jail. At the time the cop called, she was in the "tank" waiting for bail with drunks, prostitutes, etc.

So, once in a while, justice happens. All it takes is a cop who knows how people work who had the presence of mind to make the ticket out to "owner of dog" bk
If that cop is still working, will he move to my city? We could use some like that. (Actually, ours are so indifferent to quality of life issues I wonder why they became cops in the first place.)
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Old 05-18-11, 12:03 AM   #11
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Congratulations, BTW maybe the owner did pay attention to the first case, but was just being honest. Hey it does happen on occasion.
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Old 05-18-11, 08:46 AM   #12
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I use a Contour HD1080 helmet camera on rides now to document events that happen it will surly help if needed.
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Old 05-18-11, 09:10 AM   #13
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Congratulations, BTW maybe the owner did pay attention to the first case, but was just being honest. Hey it does happen on occasion.
If it was his intention to be totally honest (and talkative) in a case where he was manifestly guilty, why contest and request a court date?
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Old 05-18-11, 09:56 AM   #14
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I perked up on the 3rd case because it was a biker who had filed complaint against a dog owner because of the dog entering the public right of way to chase him, a duplicate of my case. The case immediately degenerated into a "my dog would never leave the yard" vs "yes he did", "no he didn't", etc, etc. The judge dismissed the case saying he couldn't rule to convict based only on no other evidence than disputed testimony.
did this homeowner actually claim to witness the dog not leaving the yard? If not, there is really no disputed testimony - the biker's witness of an event vs what the owner wishes/hopes his/her animal would do. I'd have made clear there was really no dispute.
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Old 05-18-11, 10:12 AM   #15
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Why contest the tickets when his first words were an admission of guilt?
There is no defense for stupid.
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Old 05-18-11, 12:54 PM   #16
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I use a Contour HD1080 helmet camera on rides now to document events that happen it will surly help if needed.
They are just beginning to appear on Helmets of commuters in citys over here now. There have been several cases of Road rage against cyclists where "Heavy" fines have been dished out to car drivers after the video evidence was viewed in court.
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Old 05-18-11, 01:27 PM   #17
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If it was his intention to be totally honest (and talkative) in a case where he was manifestly guilty, why contest and request a court date?
My only experience with jury duty was serving for a trial in a 45 in a 35mph ticket(the perp represented himself). We wanted to pronounce setence as well as verdict - but the judge said no.
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Old 05-18-11, 03:35 PM   #18
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did this homeowner actually claim to witness the dog not leaving the yard? If not, there is really no disputed testimony - the biker's witness of an event vs what the owner wishes/hopes his/her animal would do. I'd have made clear there was really no dispute.
Just reporting the Judge's ruling, apparently in his court in a contested case, some collaborating evidence is needed over and above a bikers statement. Actually, that biker was claiming multiples of incidents so it would be impossible for the owner to flatly claim that he witnessed all of them. Point being you need pictures, another witness or an owner willing to convict himself.
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Old 05-19-11, 06:55 AM   #19
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If it was his intention to be totally honest (and talkative) in a case where he was manifestly guilty, why contest and request a court date?
I read this thread yesterday, and something about it just bothered me...

I have decided that what bothers me is the assumption by many (myself included) that the man in question was too stupid to lie...

It is a sad commentary on the lack of esteem we as a society currently hold honesty, that many (if not most) of us would assume the man was stupid, rather than simply chose to be honest and pursued the case because he thought he was in the right...

People may not have been more honest in my youth, but at least there was a stigma associated with lying...
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Old 05-19-11, 08:09 AM   #20
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If it was his intention to be totally honest (and talkative) in a case where he was manifestly guilty, why contest and request a court date?
Simply due to a different point of view. Dog owners see things differently than we do. That is why we have a court system I believe. To look at things as they are, rather than the way we perceive them to be.
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Old 05-19-11, 09:52 AM   #21
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Many of the smart phones have video cameras in them. I carry mine with me all the time. If there is a known dog problem I would video it several times at least once or twice with others present. Then call the Law and show them your evidence. Then also make sure you have it available on a laptop or some other way to show the judge in court. Always keep th eoriginal on your phone till the case is finished.
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Old 05-19-11, 02:05 PM   #22
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Just reporting the Judge's ruling, apparently in his court in a contested case, some collaborating evidence is needed over and above a bikers statement. Actually, that biker was claiming multiples of incidents so it would be impossible for the owner to flatly claim that he witnessed all of them. Point being you need pictures, another witness or an owner willing to convict himself.
Actually, as most anyone who has taken even entry level law in high school will support, in any case where facts are contested there needs to be some supporting evidence for one or the other viewpoints. Otherwise how is the judge to know who to believe? The one who speaks most fluently? The one who speaks most emotionally? The best looking? The point is that if you want to prevail in a court case it really helps to have some kind of reliable evidence.. In this case you got it free but not all are so helpful.
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Old 05-19-11, 06:01 PM   #23
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Everyone walking around with a cell phone camera sure has made a difference in court cases now days. I won't hesitate to whip mine out on a ride if I have trouble. I must say that our animal control dept. has done a good job in the last few years cutting down on bicycle chasing dogs.
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Old 05-19-11, 06:33 PM   #24
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Trouble with cell phone video is just when do you know you should have it out and on? This is why I use a helmet cam its on the entire ride.
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Old 05-19-11, 07:17 PM   #25
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When not riding, I spend my time in court trying to decide which of two people is lying. Few things annoy me more than getting lied to (except people that interrupt me - that really sets me of). I've put people in jail for lying to me, and generally I've found that it's usually not too hard to figure out who's lying. Most folks who are dumb enough to lie in court under oath aren't good enough at it to pull it off, though some are. The guy TomD describes seems like a guy who thought that what he and his dogs did was OK, so he didn't need to lie
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