Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Watching Animal Control Court

I went to Animal Control Court today to see how it is run, since there is a good chance I’ll be going there next month to testify about the neighbor’s dog Sadie attacking mine. Sadie is owned by Blonde Streaks. Blonde Streaks had to go to ACC today because of a complaint made by Mr. Volatile, another neighbor. This session promised some interesting emotional outburst possibilities because after Sadie attacked Mr. Volatile’s dogs, Mr. Volatile followed Sadie home and kicked a hole in Blonde Streaks’s front door. That part is a whole ‘nother trial, not in Animal Control Court.

The hearings officer is a lawyer with a strong interest in animal law (and who happens to own several Belgian Tervuren – perhaps my case would be even stronger had Sleek been the one Sadie nailed, esp. because Hearings Officer is Sleek's co-owner's personal attorney). Dress among most of the defendants and complainants was distinctly casual. Hearing Officer wore professional clothing, and the Animal Control officers wore their uniforms.

Blonde Streaks slumped into her chair and made a number of comments that led Hearings Officer to tell her to wait until it was her turn. AC read the appropriate parts of the statutes into the record. Hearings Officer asked for clarification on the definition of “vicious behavior,” which was given from other statutes. Mr. Volatile told his story and mostly stayed to the facts, rather than the emotions. Blonde Streaks had her time for rebuttal and had to be drawn back to the issues at hand (e.g., the door kicking is not relevant to the AC case). Blonde Streaks admitted Sadie had gotten loose and accepted responsibility for that. She said they have gotten rid of their second dog (neighborhood rumor says this dog was Sadie’s puppy) which she said belonged to her son (aka “Wheelchair Man” to the neighborhood). AC mentioned that in terms of legal responsibility, because Blonde Streaks is head of household, she was the owner of the second dog. Blonde Streaks thought about protesting that part. Blonde Streaks mentioned how Sadie could not be vicious because she lives with and has not harmed 18-month-old twins, and children aged 9, 8, and 4 years. Blonde Streaks also mentioned that if Sadie was going to be considered having shown vicious behavior by fighting with Mr. Volatile’s dogs, then shouldn’t Mr. Volatile’s dogs behavior be considered vicious because Sadie could’ve been hurt by them. Hearings Officer was unimpressed and soon cut the discussion off. Blonde Streaks’s appeals were all rejected and her fines were held at the initial levels (total of $200). Blonde Streaks replied that she had no money to pay, and Hearings Officer told her to work that out with Animal Control.

Blonde Streaks stomped out, and Mr. Volatile, his wife Bleached Blonde, and I left a few moments later, accompanied by an AC officer to ensure there was no altercation between Mr. Volatile & Blonde Streaks in the building. Fortunately, Blonde Streaks was gone by the time we reached the elevator.

We all are hopeful that at the next hearing, when my case comes up, that Sadie will be declared a Dangerous Dog and Blonde Streaks will be told to remove her from the city. The timeframe for that is 96 hours.

Keep your fingers crossed! Meanwhile, Fluff continues to grow her hair back and is doing okay around other dogs. (You will notice she was not invited to attend the big dog show this past weekend!)

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