Monday, November 5, 2007

We almost got scammed in relation to a "dog bite" incident

As you may have read, we have to be rid of our dog and her puppies by the middle of this month for reasons I can't fully go into. Suffice it to say, we are trying to have them adopted by "real people" but if that is not possible, we have someone (who adopted the first two) who said she would take the rest of the puppies if it came to taking them to a shelter. We did look into no-kill shelters run/financed/approved by the ASPCA, so we're not talking about putting them to sleep, we're talking about shelters which will try harder than we know how, to find homes for them.

Anyhow, last Thursday, two other puppies got adopted, taking us from 5 to 3. It was great, because someone had called us from about 2 hours away and were coming up, and while they were on their way, another couple called and said they wanted one as well. So I hear someone on the doorstep, and I'm thinking they're here already, but I didn't hear a vehicle. I'm doing something else, but nobody knocked. When I get to the door, only a minute or so later, there's a piece of paper stuck to the door, from Animal Control. The note says that our dog bit a neighbor's dog, and we need to get a rabies vaccination in 72 hours or they'll issue a warrant. I call, and of course they're closed. I guess they've been shot at or something, so they had to put the notice up real incognito. I guess, anyway.

Next day, Friday of last week. I call and set up our dog to get rabies shots - $12 - at a local veterinary office. I then ask what happened. Wednesday, according to the neighbor, the animal control officer tells me, our neighbor out front was coming home (he didn't say what time, or from what she was coming home from), had her dog on a leash, and our dog came running up, bit her dog in the face, and ran off. And that she isn't pressing charges, but wants us to pay her $45 vet bill to fix her dog up. I ask if that's through them or what, and he says no, animal control just requires the rabies vaccination, the rest is between us.

I talk to Jen about it, and my suspicions are confirmed. Sammy was on the chain when Jen left for work Wednesday. I was home all day (well, I left for work at 9:30pm). When Jen got home (12:30AM Thursday morning), Sammy was still chained. Remember, that on Wednesday we had five puppies in the pen back there.

Here's what happened, from a more logical point of view. The neighbor lady got home, got out of her vehicle, and her dog got away from her. Her dog smelled something new in the air (the puppies). Her dog came around back to take a look. Her dog got close enough and Sammy bit her. This fits because, 1) Sammy was chained the whole time, and 2) you know what happens when a dog gets between another dog and her puppies. People can mess with the puppies all they want, but other animals, it's a different story. And 3) this lady has like 5 dogs, who's to say she has full control over all of them all the time? We have one dog that isn't in a pen, and she was chained all that day. Ergo, she did not leave our backyard.

Here's what's interesting, though. The neighbor says she tried to talk to us. Not so - she's seen my wife come and go a few times. She doesn't see me - I leave late at night and come back early in the morning. Jen says today, on the way to work, her dogs were barking and she came outside, and actually avoided looking at my wife.

What I think happened, is the lady watched her dog get away, maybe approached our place, heard the scuffle, her dog came running back, face bloody, so she took it to the vet. The vet advised her to call animal control, and either the vet or animal control gave her the idea that if her dog had been bitten on her property while her dog was leashed, we would be liable for the vet bill, so that's the story she gave animal control. She must have assumed animal control would convince us to just up and pay her the $45, and when we didn't walk over there, check in hand, she realized they hadn't. Or maybe she came back and looked at Sammy, and saw Sammy was chained, and realized we'd know that the bite took place on our property, with our dog chained, and her dog running free - in which case the liability is hers alone.

It's just messed up, because there's no fence between our properties, and Jen used to cut part of her grass. She would only cut what was just in front of her trailer, where her car parks and dogs run. She wouldn't cut all the way to the electrical box, which is the pre-established "line". She'd leave about 10-15 feet of grass, times the width of the yard (maybe 3-4 times that). Not much, but on top of our own yard it's a lot. And my wife loves to cut our grass - so I let her. And she's cut the neighbor's grass as well. But not anymore. We don't really know this lady. We don't know her name. We aren't social. But Jen figured on doing that small favor, just because. Well, no more. This lady doesn't know us and thought she'd get us to pay $45 that we really don't have because of her own negligence. Hey, accidents happen, and I sympathize with her dog, but it shouldn't have gotten between Sammy and her puppies. And this lady should have controlled her dog better.

Besides, we're not even 100% sure it was Sammy to begin with. Not only was Sammy on her chain the whole time, but assuming the lady was telling the truth about the way things happened, it had to have been another dog. So it's another dog. She takes her dog to the vet, the vet tells her if she knew what dog, she might get the bill reimbursed by the owner. Sammy HAS gotten out before. The neighbor lady knows this. So maybe she just blamed Sammy because she wanted someone else to pay the bill.

Either way, it's not on us, and it'll be a non-issue in a couple weeks when we haven't got Sammy anymore. And no, I'm not really saddened by that... Sure I am, a little, but the fact is we really haven't got the facilities to care for a dog of her size and temperament. We can leave her outside, but that's only OK in the summer. In the winter, she should perhaps be indoors, but we can't keep a dog inside. It's a bad mix anyway, us having a dog in these conditions. If we were allowed to have a dog, we should have a real small one. We have a cat now, we're happy with the cat, she's potty trained, and generally OK. A cat's fine. A Rhodesian Ridgeback/Rottweiler, not so much so.

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