Monday, March 31, 2008
Help Me Howard: Digging Dogs
They can annoy you all day and keep you up all night. We're talking about barking dogs, but one woman says her neighbor's animals went from irritating to terrifying when they tried to attack her and her pet. Feeling trapped in her own home, she turned to Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser for a solution with some bite.
WSVN -- If your home is your castle then your backyard is your playground.
Patti Blau: "I like it very much. It's quiet, a very quiet neighborhood."
Very quiet and peaceful until a new neighbor moved next door to Patti.
Patti Blau: "I'm petrified, I'm absolutely petrified, I'm petrified."
Not of her neighbor, his dogs. Four dogs, a shepherd, a bulldog and two mixed breeds. Four nice looking, but, Patti says, dangerous dogs.
Patti Blau: "They bark constantly, they bang up against the metal fence, they burrow under, they growl, they snarl, they live outside 24 hours a day. You hear them any time day or night, they are there."
Patti is pretty accurate. When we walked into her backyard, two of the dogs did their best to come over and say "Hi."
Patti Blau: "Listen, I'm scared to do my laundry, I'm scared to lie in my hammock, I'm scared to use my grill, I'm scared to go outside."
Scared because, occasionally, the dogs get into her backyard, and the last time, Patti says, the dogs came after her.
Patti Blau: "One came out first, and I had the shovel in my hand, and I thought I could, you know, keep it off, and then a second later another one came, and it was lunging at me and jumping up at me like this."
Patti kept the dogs away with the shovel, but then one turned on her small dog.
Patti Blau: "And put my dog in its mouth. My dog was yelping and screaming. I was screaming at the top of my lungs for help."
Patti was petrified, then, she says, suddenly a man walked into her yard, fired a gun into the ground. The dog dropped her dog, and both of them scampered back under the fence.
Patti Blau: "I've never seen this guy, don't know who it was, but, in my opinion, he saved my life."
Patti has talked to her neighbor, nothing. She then called police, then animal services and was told to fill out a report and they would determine if the dogs are a threat. Patti was stunned.
Patti Blau: "Basically, nothing has been done, nothing has been done. I don't understand why we are waiting for some horrible tragedy to happen."
But are the dogs just irritating or dangerous? And, if so, does Patti have to wait until she is attacked to get something done? Howard?
Howard Finkelstein: "It depends on where as to whether or not the dogs are considered dangerous. If these dogs had menacingly confronted Patti on the sidewalk, they would be declared dangerous, but, for some silly reason, the law says if an encounter happens in your backyard, without any biting, and it only happens once, it's not enough to declare them dangerous."
We called Miami-Dade's Animal Services, they conducted a two-week investigation. They now consider the dogs contained because there is a wood barrier under the fence, and the owner has been cited and fined for the dog running loose. When we asked animal services if the dogs have to hurt Patti to be considered dangerous, they said, 'No.' They said all they did was dig into her backyard and growl at her, and if we declared all dogs that growled at people dangerous, all dogs would have to be put in kennels. Howard says at least the county is now on notice.
Howard Finkelstein: "The burden is now clearly on the dog owner. He has been fined and notified that there is a problem, and if his dogs bite her in her backyard he will be held legally and financially responsible."
For Patti, it's good news, sort of. If the fence holds up, she can come outside again.
Patti Blau: "I brought my dog out yesterday to try and get a little more normalcy back to life. My neighbor said to call him if I have a problem, so I appreciate that. I just want to live peacefully next to him. I just don't want the dogs to come in my yard, and I don't want them to attack us."
Now, Patti never wanted the dogs put to sleep or anything. She just wanted them kept in their yard or inside, just out of her yard. Hopefully, it's now done, and if you have a problem with a dog complaint, get a police report and call animal services.
Troubles left you growling and snapping? Tired of barking up the wrong tree? Contact us. We aren't ferocious, but we have got a little legal bite in our back pocket.
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