- Category: The Dog
- Created on 19 June 2010
- Last Updated on 17 March 2014
- Written by Fred M. Kray
- Hits: 620
Investigating the Dangerous Dog Case
Investigating a dangerous dog case is not much different than investigating any other case, but I have learned some lessons along the way.
First, you really have to meet the dog and go to the scene in every single case.
You should also consider having a behavioral examination so that an expert can give an opinion about the dogs temperament. The expert should be given all the materials from the dangerous dog investigation. You might also want to have a veterinarian examine the dog to make sure that Animal Control is properly caring for the dog. Finally, if they won't let you visit the dog, you should request the court for scheduled visitation privileges. These issues are covered in more detail in the "Offensive Pleadings" and "Hearing" sections of the site.
Why Meeting the Dog Is Imperative
In the Triana case, the animal control officer made "Jerry" sound like Cujo. Jerry slammed into the side of a truck, jumped up into the driver's side window, and scared him so much he had to dart him. He was described as a Rottweiler in the animal control report. He was one of the most aggressive dogs the animal control officer had ever met, and came out of anesthesia from darting faster than any other dog he had ever seen.
The officer sold this description to the Code Enforcement Board and Jerry was declared dangerous as a result. You can read the transcript of the hearing on this site. Mrs. Triana was not represented by counsel, and I only had the transcript to read for the appeal. We were stuck with the facts testified to by the animal control officer on appeal, and that was the only basis of Jerry being declared dangerous. He was declared dangerous because he scared the animal control officer. He did not bite him or anyone else.
After we got Jerry's classification reversed, Mrs. Triana invited me over for dinner. I also wanted to meet Jerry who we had fought so hard to free. When I saw him, I was shocked.
This little dog was a Rottweiller? This little dog slammed into the side of the truck? This little dog jumped up to the driver's side window? It was at this point it dawned on me that animal control can say whatever they want about the dog, and unless YOU know the truth, they win.
So rule number one is to meet the dog, if possible. In Marion County, once the dog is impounded, no visitation is allowed. So if you can't see the dog, at least look at pictures (and be ready to introduce them at trial) that give you an idea of the size and attributes of the dog. Otherwise, they might describe the dog as a Rottweiller.
By the way, to all you Rottweiler fans out there, I am not saying all Rottweilers are dangerous or look like the picture above. I am saying that 1) Jerry bears no resemblance to a Rottweiler, and 2) animal control can use prejudice against "allegedly aggressive" breeds in court against other dogs. The Code Enforcement Board is imagining the picture above when Jerry is really the one being described.