Thursday, August 26, 2010

Lets Call it the Kitchen Sink Argument

It wasn't the normal judge that listened to our arguments, it was a new judge.  He listed as the animal control officer read his report.  He listened to me tell the story of how I came home to find my goats dying behind the shed.  How I yelled at Atticus to get him off Penny and Atticus ran home.  How I tried so many people looking for someone to shoot the goats before the sheriff came and we found the goats had finally died by themselves.  How I'd been concerned enough about Atticus the week prior to bring one goat inside the house to keep it away from the dog.  How my mother is afraid enough of Atticus that she went inside and closed the door every time the dog came over.

Then the judge listened as my neighbor spoke about where she was born and grew up, how many dogs she's rescued, how beautiful Atticus is.  How she's an expert on goats because her ex-husband was nicknamed "goat."  How a dog belonging to the previous owner of my house killed a cat she was catsitting and the cat was a member of the family because it had slept in the same bed as the owner for 10 years.  How it's harsh country up where we live.  How everyone on the street has lost at least one animal and that's just part of living where we live.  How someone is leaving deer carcasses in the woods.  How she can't imagine Atticus hurting anything because she wouldn't keep a dangerous dog.  How she thinks that a wild animal killed my goats and Atticus just happened to discover it later.  How she has purchased an invisible fence (she showed it to us, still in Petsmart bags) and will install it soon, but her dogs might run through it.  How she brings the dogs out to the country to let them run because they don't have running space in the city.  How her dog doors let her dogs out, but might let wild animals in.  How she worries that if another wild animal kills another of my animals, I might blame her again.  How she installed fence for her birds and she knows how hard it is on our rocky land.  I wouldn't have been surprised if she brought the kitchen sink into her argument.  It had everything but.

She told all of this about 5 times, in one big, long rush, barely pausing for air.  The judge listened to it all and the rest of us listened with him.

Then he ordered her to keep her dogs on her property and me to keep my dogs on my property.  There's one difference.  I got a piece of paper with the judge's signature on it and the words "confine and keep on her property," referring to the neighbor and her dogs.  The neighbor got the certainty that if her dog comes to my place again, I can shoot it.

It's probably best that I'm not considering getting goats again until next year.  It looks like this thing has a little more playing out to do.  I fully expect to see the dog again.  I fully expect to call the animal control officer, to come get the dog, and then who knows what will happen.  The piece of paper says the dog can be destroyed if not kept under control, but let's see it play out.

No, I'm not happy.  I don't see any winners here.  I'm sad the neighbor has pushed it to this, but now she knows I will do whatever I have to do to keep my charges safe. This little saga has bumped forward a little bit.  And now it's time to lay more track.


  1. "How someone is leaving deer carcasses in the woods." Why do I suspect Atticus has taken to chasing and killing deer? Remember what I said about when a dog (no matter how cute or how much of a family pet) gets a taste of blood it is very hard to break it of this ancient but normal instinct? Did Atticus kill your goats first and then progress to deer or was he in the habit of killing deer and then killed Penny and Coco because they were just little deer to him?

    I'm so sorry this saga has to continue on and keep dragging up such unpleasant memories for you, Jordan. Sadly, only time will allow it to work to completion and then enable the wounds to heal. It's not pleasant to hear about but please keep using us as your listening posts. We want to go through this with you.

  2. That has got to be some of the stupidest things I ever heard. They aren't even relevant to the situation. If I was the judge, I think I would have given her a harsher penalty because she sounded like an idiot.

    I hope she does keep her dogs on her property. And if she doesn't, I hope you use every right you have to keep it off yours.

    I'm learning, just as it seems you are, that there are some crazy people up here in Upstate NY...

  3. I had the same unfinished feeling with the neighbors whose dog bit me. They did get two tickets and were fined but I had no recourse against them unless I could prove that the dog was vicious and had previous incidents. Apparently this is a new law in NY State. Their insurance agent said that the dog had a moment and was basically a good dog and dropped my claim. Arrgh! What if I had been a child instead off an adult? I don't get it - their dog came off their property, came after me and bit me, breaking the skin in two places. Sigh!

  4. Kitchen sink was the same argument that my floor installer used. Since it was moderation (is that the word? I'm blanking on what the word was?), the judge was able to ask questions and it was clear that the judge was trying to determine whether any of what the installer said had any relevance or proof. (No, it didn't.) I think it's only on Judge Judy that the judge can really cut short testimony. The judge and others HAD to sit there and listen and probably gave little to no weight to what she said and did what he would've done whether she had said nothing at all. It's angering to listen to all the baloney but probably had little influence on the outcome.

    It IS a part of a process. The next step is the animal control officer witnesses a second incident somewhere (hopefully not on your property), and then the process could become more decisive.

    Have any of the other neighbors indicated to you dissatisfaction with the dog? And are they aware of what has happened (the goats and court decision)? They may be more inclined to call the Animal Control officer if they know that the process for controlling the dog is already well underway.

  5. Mama Pea - I think it's hunter-left deer, because the skin is stripped off cleanly. Been going on for years... Before I had my dogs fenced, Maggie brought home a few choice pieces. Like a head and a leg.

    KayTee - yikes! I'd be interested in hearing your story about crazy New Yorkers.

    Judy - yes, NY law clearly states the burden of proof favors the dog owner. Amazing though. In Ohio it's the other way. No matter where the dog is, if it's bitten someone, it's a biter. I had a dog years ago that bit someone & we got sued. My home insurance covered it, but then removed coverage for the dog. Ie, if it bit again, we'd be on our own to pay for it.

    Liz - It's mediation or arbitration. I have talked to one person at the end of the street, but it's a good idea to tell others. Most folks haven't met Atticus, just Cooper. They mostly only come up to my house (of course).

  6. ahhhh it is so hard to teach the dogs to stay away from deer like that! It is just their natural instinct!

    We bought a wireless fence for our by Havahart Wireless. It is worked great. We spent a couple weeks training and now Sam can run and play AND stay home :-) Best of luck!

  7. I'm so impressed by your strength. By standing your ground, I think you're making a difference in that crazy neighborhood of yours.