The Tale of the White Pit Bull

 

This is a story of an unpleasant experience with a dog and an acknowledgement of the kindness of concerned dog lovers.

A little background... For more than a year now, I have seen, in the townhouse complex behind my house, a white pit bull that the owners often let run free. When I first started seeing the dog, it was always with its owners and their kids. Several weeks ago, my dog, Jake, Katie, a friend's dog for whom I was dog sitting, and I were on our way to the park when the white dog came running up to us across a fairly busy street. There was a little girl out in the lawn area of the townhouses, and I called to her to ask her if she knew to whom the dog belonged. She said that she did, so Jake, Katie, and I went across the street with the white dog following. The girl led me to a door, and her mother came out. The mother told me that the dog belonged to people in another court, and that she had complained several times about the dog running free because she was afraid it would get hurt. While I was talking to the mother, a group of teenagers came by, and one called to the dog. The dog followed.

On Sunday, November 11th, I was taking Jake for a walk and saw the dog out in the lawn area again. This time there was an Annapolis police officer there with another man. The dog was not exhibiting any aggressive behavior that I could see. It was running up to them and then running around in a large circle the way dogs do when they are playing. The officer and the man were both spraying the dog with mace. The dog ran back around behind the row of townhouses, and the officer returned to his car. I went over to his car, told him of my earlier experience, informed him that the dog was very gentle, and pleaded that I didn't want to see the dog get hurt because she had irresponsible owners. He responded by telling me that he had called animal control and that, if the dog kept "attacking" him that it would be killed by shooting or mace. I reiterated that the dog was in no way vicious and left.

As Jake and I continued to walk down the street, three more police cars showed up. Jake did his "business," and we started back to the house. On the way back, I went to see if my neighbors across the street were home. They are a married couple who both hold ranking positions in the Annapolis Police Department. I was hoping that I could get one of them to add a little "reason" to the mix. They were not home.

I went back to my house and up to my bedroom from where I could see what was happening. I looked out, and the police officers were standing in the parking lot of the townhouses with their guns drawn. I said to myself that I was not going to let that sweet dog get shot, so I headed back over to the scene. I walked up to the first officer I saw and asked him if they had contacted the owners. He told me that the dog was being aggressive and not permitting them to go to the door of the townhouse. I did not witness this, but I really don't believe it. Or else, this playing that the dog was doing was being called "aggressive." I told him that the dog was gentle, and that I didn't want to see it hurt. He told me that they had called animal control, but the dog would be shot if it attacked. I told him that I was going to talk to the owners, and he told me it wouldn't be his fault if the dog bit me.

I went to the townhouse where they said the dog belonged even though I thought they were mistaken. All this time the dog was running around playing with a stick she had found. She came running up to me in a playful way never showing any aggressive behaviors. I knocked on the door, and a young man came to the door. He told me that the dog belonged to the people next door and thought they were home. I knocked on the door of the owners, but there was no answer. The dog did not change her playful behavior when I went to the door of her house. She simply came running up with me. Remember, the police had told me that she was being vicious and not letting them approach the front door of the house.

In a few minutes, the young man came out of his house. By this time, the dog had come up to me, and I was petting her. I was fearful of what might happen if the dog continued to run free. She had no collar. I asked the young man to stay with her while I went back to my house to get a collar and lead. All this time the four police officers were standing around in the parking lot. As I passed, I told them that I was going home to get a collar and lead.

When I returned, she came right up to me and let me put on the collar. I walked over with her to the parking lot and said, "Well, here's your vicious dog." (I'm afraid I have a history of my sarcastic mouth getting me into trouble.) They told me to tie the dog to a bench in the lawn area, and that they would wait for animal control. Obviously, this was an idea I did not support, so I told them that I just lived right there as I was pointing to my house and requested that I be able to take the dog to my house to wait for animal control. They replied that I couldn't do that because the dog was someone else's property. It did not occur to me at that time to state that it seemed somewhat illogical that they had had their guns out ready to shoot the dog, but now they wouldn't let me take it to my house to wait for animal control. I told them that I would wait there for animal control.

As I stood there, I began to examine the dog's eyes which were all inflamed from the mace. I asked the officers if any of them had water in a bottle so that I could rinse out her eyes. They told me that they didn't. I, also, found that statement hard to believe.

Now picture this. There I was an old fat guy standing there with a dog on a leash who just wanted to play, and there are four police cars with four police officers standing in a row looking at me. After a while I said, "It takes four of you to watch me? I'm really fairly harmless." (That mouth again!)

 

I then went over and sat down on the bench. While I sat there this "vicious" dog played with sticks and would periodically jump up on the bench to give me kisses. Animal control finally show up and I walked the dog over to the truck. I told the animal control officer that I didn't want to see the dog destroyed simply because she had irresponsible owners and asked if I could take the dog to the S.P.C.A. He told me that the dog had to be taken to animal control, and that the owners would be notified. I told him that, if the owners would not take responsibility for the dog, that I wanted to claim it so that I could see that it went to the S.P.C.A. or a rescue group. He told me that they have a policy against putting up pit bulls for adoption, but that animal control might release the dog to a rescue group. I told him that I was very fearful that this wonderful, gentle dog would be destroyed simply because of the prejudice against pit bulls. He was very nice and gave me the case number so that I could follow up.

It bothers me that not one of all the people who lived there witnessing what happened except that one young man would offer me any kind of help or support. I am fearful that these irresponsible owners have alienated the community against this dog.

As I was returning home, I noticed that my police officer neighbors were home, so I went to their house to tell my story. I had no real complaint about the actions of the officers. I do not think they should have had their guns drawn because the dog was not threatening anyone. I think they should have allowed me to take the dog to my house for safekeeping. I think it was silly of the four of them to stand there for almost an hour watching me. But, these are all my opinions which may be incorrect. My neighbors, rightfully so, made no comments as to the actions of the officers other than to say that not allowing me to take the dog to my house was a judgement call. They are both dog lovers and told me that they would try to follow up with animal control.

I then went home and sent out a message to friends via e-mail as to what had happened and asked for suggestions. Joy Butler, whom I have met through our articles on Themestream, responded right away with several helpful suggestions. She gave me the phone number of a lady, Robin, who lives in a neighboring county. I called Robin and found that she volunteers for an organization called Partners for Animal Welfare. I told her that I would be willing to foster the dog for the organization. Robin gave me her e-mail address and told me that she would forward the story to a contact in my county. I soon received a reply from Suzanne who told me that she would try to get some more information about the dog.

On Monday, I called the animal control office and was told that it was their policy not to offer pit bulls for adoption. I was informed that the papers stated that the dog was running free, and there was no mention of aggressive behavior. None-the-less, their policy voided the possibility of adoption. The lady with whom I spoke could not give me any information as to the possibility of the dog being released to a rescue group. She also told me that the owners had until Friday to claim the dog and pay the fine.

Now here's the dilemma... The only people who could save the dog were the ones who were irresponsible enough to let her run free in the first place. This is unacceptable behavior for the owners of any dog who live in the city, but these people would have had to live under a rock in order to be unaware of the gross prejudice against pit bulls. What were they thinking? I must state, however, that the dog is friendly, clean, and well fed - not what you would expect of a dog from a home where it is abused or neglected. I don't know these people at all other than to observe that they are a very young couple with very young children. I have observed the young husband exhibiting behaviors of which I disapprove - shouting and "strutting" for companions in the parking lot - but, as my friends often remind me, I'm an old fart who is behind the times, so these behaviors may be considered "normal" by today's generation. I cannot state that these people shouldn't own a dog.

So, I was stuck. Animal control would not release the dog to me, my new friends with the rescue group were not sure they could help, and the owners had not called to claim the dog. I went through the motions and filled out the application to become a PAW foster parent. On Tuesday, I called and heard that the owners had not contacted animal control. On Wednesday, I was told that the owners were coming to claim the dog. This was good because that wonderful little dog was not going to be destroyed, but I was fearful that the owners would not accept the responsibility to keep the dog from running free. On Thursday, I called to confirm that the dog had been claimed by the owners which she had. In the afternoon while standing at my kitchen sink, I observed one of the little children open the front door and the dog scoot out. The mother came out right away and called the dog back into the house. I haven't seen the dog since so am hoping that the shock of having their dog taken away has caused this young couple to exercise the needed control. We can all keep our fingers crossed.

I know you're probably thinking, "Why doesn't he just go over and talk with these young people?" That is not really in my nature. I keep telling myself that I'll have to bite the bullet and talk with them if I see the dog running free again. Hopefully, that will not happen.

Knowledge that has been reconfirmed through this experience...

Most people are naturally good and helpful and are willing to give their time - even to someone they don't know if the goal is to help an innocent.

Prejudice continues to be the most destructive element of society be it against breeds of animals, races of people, religious groups, sexual orientation, whatever.

Each of us must do our best to make our little part of the world a better place.

 

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