Monday, April 27, 2009
Help Me Howard: Vet Bill
It's a small dog owner's worst nightmare. You're out walking your pet when a big dog comes charging, attacking your animal, but to add insult to injury, one couple says the dog's owner refuses to pony up the cash for the vet bill. Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser takes a bite out of this one.
WSVN -- When David showed up with this King Charles Cavalier, his wife just melted.
David Weinstein: "She's very playful. They told us that even if someone was breaking into your house, she would just go up and be like, 'Pet me, pet me' and just lick them in the face."
Bella is sweet and friendly. A neighbor's pit bull mix is neither, which David found out when he took Bella outside.
David Weinstein: "We were walking, and all of a sudden, I hear a leash drop, and I saw a pit bull come charging at her."
David's neighbor was walking her two dogs and could not control them. The pit bull mix tore into Bella.
David Weinstein: "It bit her, picked her up and shook her around a little bit, and the woman told me to punch her dog, punch her dog to release her, so I started to, and I still couldn't get her dog to release Bella."
David finally hit the dog so hard it dropped Bella, but the damage was done.
David Weinstein: "And Bella started running out in the street crying and crying. I finally picked her up and noticed that I had blood all over my shirt."
David rushed the bloody Cavalier to the vet.
David Weinstein: "She has five puncture wounds on her neck around here, these are here, hind legs. She had drainage tubes put in to let the bacteria and fluid come out."
Bella was OK, but the bill to put her back together came to $1,100. David assumed the dog's owner would pay. David assumed wrong.
David Weinstein: "Actually, the first time we went over to give her the final bill, she felt threatened and called the cops on us."
David tried to explain to her that her dog was dangerous, that she needed to do something. She was not impressed with his argument.
David Weinstein: "So, I asked her, what if it had been my 2-year-old son or any other little baby walking around, and she said, 'I don't care.' That just set us off the edge."
David then notified the condo association that the dangerous dog was living in the building. Needless to say, when David saw her outside walking her dogs, she didn't smile and wave.
David Weinstein: "She'll call us names, curses. She'll call us liars and bitches."
Tired of dealing with an apparently unfriendly neighbor and her definitely unfriendly dogs, David called Help Me Howard.
Howard Finkelstein: "First of all, the owner of the dog that attacks another animal, person, or property has to pay for the damage or medical bills, and if a dog attacks you or your animal, notify animal control, the police and an association, if you live in one. Each one has their own rules to determine what to do with the animal."
Animal Control gave the dog owner a ticket for not properly leashing the dog and for not registering the animal. David lives in Palm Beach County, which does not ban pit bulls, but David's condo does not allow dangerous dogs. The association sent the animal's owner a letter asking her to get rid of the dog. She did not. Since the association cannot remove the dog, they may now have to go to court to get the dog removed. We tried to contact the dog's owner, she wouldn't return our calls and told David, this was none of our business. Howard says, the dog owner can be mad at everyone, but this is all her fault.
Howard Finkelstein: "If you are going to own a dog, especially an aggressive dog, whether it's big or small, it is your responsibility to keep the animal under control, and if you don't, the law will punish you."
Unfortunately, David will have to take the dog's owner to small claims court to collect on his vet bill. That will take a little time, just like it will take Bella time to forget about this attack.
David Weinstein: "The animal hospital told us it would be several years, a very long time, before she was back to normal."
We hear about a lot of dogs who bite other animals or people. If you think the dog is dangerous, it's important to report it because some agencies have a two bite rule. In other words, they can't declare the dog dangerous until it bites twice. Now, if you don't think the dog is dangerous, if you don't want to get the owner in trouble or the dog put to sleep, then forget about it ... as long as they pay your medical bill.
Chasing a problem that has left you howling and growling? Need someone to attack it? Let us chew on it. We'll unleash a solution to put you in control.
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