Wind them up, give them a little power, watch them…kill?

NO KILL!So all over the nation the no-kill movement is growing and growing and growing.  Building momentum. More and more people are getting involved, not accepting the status quo (that they “have to die, there are no other options“), and putting an end to the killing in their neighborhoods.  BSL is being fought, kill shelters are frowned upon, TNR is supported and good is conquering evil.

Each day, each week, each month, we hear more and more success stories. We learn more about the good that people are doing and we watch as the “evil-doers” are verbally and legally attacked by their community for their killing. People flooding meetings to standing-room-only status, bringing law suits against their shelters, and standing up for what is right and good.  No longer backing down, but fighting to save lives. The “bad” is no longer covered up, but put out there with the press covering it, blogs light up across the internet with “do you believe this?? SIGN THIS PETITION”.

We rejoice that you are no longer tolerating it.
Good for you.

However it still seems that tiny people with small minds and with a wee bit of “power” are out there abusing it and trying to use it to do harm. Old-style shelter directors, animal hating animal control officers, town officials, co-op board members that seem to have nothing better to do than to continue to try to kill animals that their own communities want to protect and save.

On Tuesday we will be going to court to fight just such a situation.  Let me tell you about it.

kimmie2Kimmee was a dog that we rescued from the CACC the morning she was scheduled to die for a URI (upper respiratory infection).

Kimmie was quiet, and shy and scared.  We took her in and with five days of antibiotics she was fine.  Ready to go into a home.  She was so timid and quiet that she became a volunteer, staff and kid favorite.  The children here would warm up to her, perhaps recognizing in her the things in themselves that they once conquered.  Volunteers eagerly walked this beautiful dog and staff spent extra time winning her over and helping her past her shyness.

Along came a couple that fell in love with her, and took her home.  For eleven months she lived with them.  She spent time with neighbors, children, at the dog park, in a dog day camp when they went away.  Everyone who came in contact with her stated the same thing. “Shy, but very sweet”.  No one had any aggression issues with her.  She never even lifted a lip at anyone.

But this week, something terrible happened.  A TV repairman came into the home and he leaned over to kiss her face.  Kimmee (now called Kaylee) responded by biting him. It was not a nip, it was a bite and the man needed stitches to repair his torn lip.  The owners returned Kimmee to us and explained what happened.  Everyone was surprised, including them.  Eleven months, not a problem.  The entire time she was here, never a problem.  Now she reacted to a situation that was scary for her and she bit someone.  We are not excusing this bite.  We are not saying that Kimmee is faultless. We feel terrible for this poor man – that had his face bitten in such a manner!  We feel terrible for the owners that had to return a dog they loved.  A bite is never something to scoff at and never something to not respect and take seriously.

kimmie3

But here is where the story goes bad.
The Animal Control Officer of Goshen, Laureen Sandstrom, has decided that Kimmee is a “Dangerous Dog”.  She is trying to stop us from ever allowing Kimmee to be adopted again. I called her and she was adamant.  I explained that according to New York State Law, she has no legal case to declare Kimmee a “Dangerous Dog” according to the NYS Dangerous Dog law.  She sarcastically told me that she has done this “tons of times before”. On Tuesday we will go to court to fight this.  Not only for Kimmee, but for all the dogs out there that this woman is declaring “dangerous”.  First let me explain the law to you to show you why this woman doesn’t even have a legal case. She is a woman that was given a tiny bit of power and instead of using it to help animals and protect their lives, she has tried to use it to harm them. She doesn’t even KNOW the law that she is trying to use against Kimmee.  Can you believe it?  She is trying to invoke DANGEROUS DOG Laws on Kimmee, but she doesn’t even know the law.  Let’s take a look, shall we?

Here’s the actual statute:
http://www.animallaw.info/statutes/stusnyagri_mkts_121.htm

1. Laureen, the Animal Control Officer can’t make the complaint. She didn’t witness the bite. The guy who was bitten has to:

Any person who witnesses an attack or threatened attack, or in the case of
a minor, an adult acting on behalf of such minor, may make a complaint of
an attack or threatened attack upon a person, companion animal, farm
animal as defined in subdivision twenty-four of section one hundred eight
of this article, or a domestic animal as defined in subdivision seven of
section one hundred eight of this article to a dog control officer or
police officer of the appropriate municipality.

By the way, she also has to ticket someone – the owners of the dog, before going to court.  No ticket has ever been issued!  Hmm.  Starting to wonder if the Animal Control officer of Goshen even KNOWS the law!  Are they given any training at all?

2. IF the guy who was bitten makes the complaint, THEN she can initiate the proceedings herself (but so far he hasn’t and she already told us we have a court date and time – um, based on what? He hasn’t made any complaint yet! Did she illegally file all the paperwork before she had a complaint?):

Such officer shall immediately inform the complainant of his right to
commence a proceeding as provided in subdivision two of this section and,
if there is reason to believe the dog is a dangerous dog, the officer
shall forthwith commence such proceeding himself.

3. Jurisdiction clearly resides with the municipal judge. That’s awesome for us. That means Laureen, the ACO officer has no authority at all. And it means that some board member, or town clerk can’t do it either. It has to be done by a sitting judge. Hopefully HE knows the law!.

Any person who witnesses an attack or threatened attack, or in the case of
a minor, an adult acting on behalf of such minor, may, and any dog control
officer or police officer as provided in subdivision one of this section
shall, make a complaint under oath or affirmation to any municipal judge
or justice of such attack or threatened attack.

4. The first thing that happens is that the justice has to decide if there is probable cause to believe the dog is dangerous under the law. In this case that is VERY shaky, but of course just like you can sue anyone you want, with our without reason, a judge can make a ruling and then it would be up to us to defend our side under law.

If he believes there is probable cause, Laureen has no jurisdiction in Wallkill – the town we are in, and the dog was legally surrendered to US. So now they have to get the Wallkill Animal Control Officer to try to seize the dog. We’re still not clear if a town judge can compel an officer of another town to do something, though it does look like the law says he can.

Thereupon, the judge or justice shall immediately determine if there is
probable cause to believe the dog is a dangerous dog and, if so, shall
issue an order to any dog control officer, peace officer, acting pursuant
to his special duties, or police officer directing such officer to
immediately seize such dog and hold the same pending judicial
determination as provided in this section.

5. Then there has to be a hearing within 5 days, and the “owner” needs to get 2 days notice. Burden of proof is on the person who makes the complaint to prove the dog is a dangerous dog.

Whether or not the judge or justice finds there is probable cause for such
seizure, he shall, within five days and upon written notice of not less
than two days to the owner of the dog, hold a hearing on the complaint.
The petitioner shall have the burden at such hearing to prove the dog is a
“dangerous dog” by clear and convincing evidence.

6. If the judge believes the dog is dangerous he has to spay/neuter the dog, chip the dog, and can do one or more of the following:

If satisfied that the dog is a dangerous dog, the judge or justice shall
then order neutering or spaying of the dog, microchipping of the dog and
one or more of the following as deemed appropriate under the circumstances
and as deemed necessary for the protection of the public:

Have the dog evaluated at the owner’s expense.
Confine the dog.
Restrain the dog in public
Muzzle the dog in public
Order that liability insurance be in force at all times.

kimmie4

7. Here’s the most important part. In order to kill or permanently confine the dog, at least one of the following special circumstances has to be true:

a) the dog, without justification, attacked a person causing serious
physical injury or death;

[NYS Penal Law section 10.0 defines “Serious physical injury” as physical
injury which creates a substantial risk of death, or which causes death or
serious and protracted disfigurement, protracted impairment of health or
protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily organ.]

Don’t see it here.

(b) the dog has a known vicious propensity as evidenced by a previous
unjustified attack on a person, which caused serious physical injury or
death.

No, we don’t have THAT here either.

(c) the dog, without justification, caused serious physical injury or
death to a companion animal, farm animal or domestic animal.

No, don’t have that here either.

8. If the dog is deemed “dangerous” the owner has 30 days to appeal in County Court. So if they sentence the dog to death they have to wait 30 days to kill her. Pets Alive would appeal to county court in this case.

The owner of a dog found to be a “dangerous dog” pursuant to this section
may appeal such determination, and/or the court’s order concerning
disposition of the dog to the court having jurisdiction to hear civil
appeals in the county where the “dangerous dog” finding was made. The
owner shall commence such appeal by filing a notice of appeal with the
appropriate court within thirty days of the final order pursuant to this
section. Court rules governing civil appeals in the appropriate
jurisdiction shall govern the appeal of a determination under this
section.

9. If the judge orders death there is an AUTOMATIC stay with the appeal. Anything else has to be motioned for:

Upon filing a notice of appeal from an order of humane euthanasia pursuant
to this section, such order shall be automatically stayed pending final
determination of any appeal. In all other circumstances, the owner of the
dog may make application to the court to issue a stay of disposition
pending determination of the appeal.

10. Nothing else applies except we find this really cool:

A dog shall not be declared dangerous if the court determines the conduct
of the dog (a) was justified because the threat, injury or damage was
sustained by a person who at the time was committing a crime or offense
upon the owner or custodian of the dog or upon the property of the owner
or custodian of the dog; (b) was justified because the injured, threatened
or killed person was tormenting, abusing, assaulting or physically
threatening the dog or its offspring, or has in the past tormented,
abused, assaulted or physically threatened the dog or its offspring; (c)
was justified because the dog was responding to pain or injury, or was
protecting itself, its owner, custodian, or a member of its household, its
kennels or its offspring; or was justified because the injured, threatened
or killed companion animal, farm animal or domestic animal was attacking
or threatening to attack the dog or its offspring. Testimony of a
certified applied behaviorist, a board certified veterinary behaviorist,
or another recognized expert shall be relevant to the court’s
determination as to whether the dog’s behavior was justified pursuant to
the provisions of this subdivision.

We think we could easily argue that the dog THOUGHT she was protecting her family. We also think it’s cool that the law carves out exemptions for dogs doing their duty.

As luck would have it, Pets Alive just happened to have one of the nation’s premier experts in dog training, and behavior, at our sanctuary this week.  Pat Whitacre, lead trainer at the Best Friends Animal Society (one of the nation’s LARGEST organizations) has more degrees next to his name than most doctors, tons of experience, and even starred in a TV show on National Geographic.  He was on “vacation” at Pets Alive, volunteering.  We asked him to do a behavior assessment for Kimmee.

Guess how she did?
Great! The assessment is geared to get reactions.  Dogs that will bite, will be tempted into it during some of these tests.  While he found her shy, and anxious during some of the tests, she never resorted to biting as a response.  I won’t post the whole assessment but here is the summary (which we will present in court):

Summary: Kimmie is a dog who lacks confidence when faced with unfamiliar people or situations. Her bite in the home showed that the right/wrong conditions can produce an aggressive reaction. However, during a wide variety of conditions during this assessment she showed no aggressive behavior. Her history and today’s behavior do not indicate that she is aggressive by nature nor is she easily provoked into using dangerous behavior.
That being said, responsible pet owners should not put their pets or visitors in situations the pets cannot handle well. In Kimmie’s case, her comfort in a crate, provides a convenient solution for providing safety for all involved during potentially stressful circumstances.

5d527c454213ba34faf4c3000e106f8cWe also contacted the Day Camp that Kimmee used to stay at when her owners went away.  He expressed surprise.  Said Kimmee was always shy but had never shown a single aggressive moment and came in contact with many people at the facility and played with as many as 40 other dogs.

So here is a case where a dog has never had a single negative incident on her portfolio, and one bite in her entire life illicits a knee-jerk reaction from this seemingly uneducated animal control officer to see that Kimmee is forever prevented from going to another home again, as long as she lives, or is euthanized.

And she claims she has done this “tons of times before”.  I’m glad she tangled with us now, and not some poor, distraught animal owner who didn’t know the law, or their rights.  I think now she has to be stopped and she has to be educated and she has to make decisions that are based in the best interest of the animal AND the person who has been bitten.  At no juncture do we take this bite as something to act flippantly over, or something that is not a terrible incident.  At no point do we think Kimmee should be adopted into a home with little children running about and lots of noise and commotion.  But that isn’t the situation here.  The situation here is that they want her confined forever, or killed.  Is that the right response to a dog that has been perfect her whole life and had ONE incident?

Absolutely not.

kimmie1So we are happy to be the voice for Kimmee and we are glad to be.  The difference is that we KNOW the law and no longer will Laureen, the ACO, be allowed to walk over people and take away their dogs to be killed. We are sorry that she is so close minded.  When we tried to call her to explain this she didn’t want to hear it.  She didn’t even want to discuss it – just “see you in court”.  Yes Laureen, we will see you in court.  Please bring your best lawyers, because THIS is one dog you will not be sticking a needle into or forcing to spend her life with a muzzle on, and in a cement run.  THIS dog will be protected by Pets Alive.

Know your rights too.  What if YOUR dog bit someone.  Do you have to surrender the dog to Animal Control?  NO!  Do you have to sign her over to be euthanized?  NO! Can they take your dog from you without a court hearing?  NO.  Can your neighbors demand your dog be removed or euthanized if their child was bitten?  No. Learn the law.  Don’t ever give your dog up without a fight.

So we are very prepared for Tuesday. Wish us, and Kimmie, good luck. We need to stop Laureen from doing this anymore.  Here, she isn’t tangling with a home owner that is scared, upset and nervous.  Now she is dealing with us, and we aren’t going to lay down and go quietly.  We never do when the life of an animal hangs in the balance.

Ready?  Let’s roll.

What can you do?
Contact Justice Thomas Cione: nyawadira@gmail.com, 845-294-6477 – ask him to rule on the side of Kaylee (Kimmee) on Tuesday – a dog that has had only one negative incident her entire life. Please remind him that we like the job he has been doing so far for Goshen, and that he is running for re-election. Politely remind him that our community cares about our animals, and wants him to care, as well. Please ask him to re-familiarize himself with the Dangerous Dog Laws of New York State.  (Be courteous and polite at ALL times!)
Town of Goshen website:  http://www.townofgoshen.org

NOTE: THE COURT DATE HAS BEEN CHANGED TO OCTOBER 26.
PLEASE CONTINUE TO SEND LETTERS.
Contact Justice Thomas Cione nyawadira@gmail.com & courteously request he dismiss this case. He will decide about dismissal THIS week.
We are unclear if that is correct email for the justice, so please also fax your letter to him at: 845-294-4456, or call 845-294-6477

You can also contact the town supervisor. Tell him to stop wasting taxpayer dollars on this case. Ask him to drop the case fax: 845-294-6542

Update #2:
On October 26th we went back to court. The case was DISMISSED on a technicality. The ACO officer filed all the paperwork in the name of the dogs previous owners. I told her months ago this made no sense, as WE owned the dog now but she did it that way anyway. This came back to bite her in the butt as the judge advised that even if he ruled in her favor, he would have to instruct the previous owners to surrender the dog, which they would just respond that they didn’t OWN the dog and had no legal ability to surrender her. So in this time that we have had with her, Kimmee has lived with other dogs, been walked by children, men, woman and all sorts of volunteers, been dressed up in Halloween costumes and so on. She is NOT an aggressive dog. In fact there is tremendous doubt now that she actually even BIT the guy. More on that later. So the update is that the ACO refiled all the paperwork against Kimmee, but some other changes happened between the time the case was dismissed and the ACO refiled. More on that soon, and pictures to come.

Filed in Legislation, No-kill by kerry on Sep 25, 2011.  There are 21 Comments

21 Responses to “Wind them up, give them a little power, watch them…kill?”

  1. Patricia Says:

    I sent my e-mail. Poor Kimmee protecting her family!!

  2. Laura Bamber Says:

    This is indeed unfortunate but Kimmee is not dangerous, she reacted badly to a stranger in her own home. If a strange man shoved his face in mine I would also bite him! His smell or anything could have provoked fear aggresion! This dog needs further confidence training and better monitoring by her owners (as now they know not to leave her with strangers and can monitor her) but she does not deserve to die! Shame on that woman who is feeling some power over sentencing innocent animals to death!

  3. Valentina Says:

    I too sent an email and I hope he does the right thing. The only thing that confused me was the dog’s name: is it Kimmee or Kaylee? Either way, I hope he understands.

  4. kerry Says:

    The dog was adopted as Kimmee. She was renamed Kaylee by the adopters. :) So Kaylee is her NEW name, Kimmee was the name we knew her as. Sorry for the confusion.

  5. Britt Johnson Says:

    i have just sent an e-mail to the judge,Kimmee is so beautiful but looks so nervous,bless her..so sad,do hope the judge rules in her favour

  6. Kati Says:

    What in the world was a in-home repair person doing putting his face in his customer’s dog’s face? Wouldn’t that be an irresponsible thing to do on his part? Surely he comes in contact with pets as a regular part of his job and knows how to handle it? I guess not. Hope this poor dog doesn’t have to die because of the bad decision of one person.

  7. Ellen Says:

    Letter written and sent I suggest everyone get on the ball and write a letter!

  8. Christine Says:

    I live in San Diego. Can I put in my two sense to this Justice, or only the people of Goshen? I find this outrageous!

  9. jessie mckinnon Says:

    Listen, my son was bit by a neighbor’s dog. He was only 18 mos.old. The family loved their old dog very much, even though he was getting irritable. My baby was very lucky he had only puncture wounds on the top and bottom of his hand, missed all tendons thank God! The Insurer of the neighbors property told them if they didn’t put down their 16 yr.old dog, they would be dropped by the insurance co. They put the dog down. One more situation that occurred here in Milw., wis. last year. A young family that we know and my husband works with the father, brought their 2 young children to the pastors house to pick up something and the chained sheperd that had been around the children before, grabbed the 4 yr.old little girl by the throat and shook her like a doll in front of the pastor, the mother, the father and her 6 yr.old brother and was killed instantly. Sorry, many animals need to be put down because they are a threat to humans. We love our animals but remember, they are animals.

  10. Elizabeth Cucinotta Says:

    My partner and I want to extend to you any help we can offer regarding Kimmee or other animals in need. We operate a venting website and there are often pro-animal posts by animal lovers. We volunteer for a feral cat rescue so we are well aware of the needs of the animal population in NY. I am going to share Kimmee’s story on my personal fb wall.

  11. Jennifer Says:

    How could her owners just surrender her over so quickly after 11 months when it was obvious this guy scared the heck out of this poor dog! He should have known better than to bend over and try to KISS a dog he has never met in his life and her owners should have kept him from doing so! Kimmee deserves another chance and a family that TRULY loves her enough to protect and fight for her!

    Good Luck tomorrow!

  12. Sherry Says:

    Please update on the outcome – I saw this too late! So sad for Kimmee, sounds like she loved her home and then was ripped away again. When I was 2, we had an Old English Sheepdog. I was playing with him, and he unintentionally bit my face, my fault. I’ve only had a small scar from it and have never blamed the dog. My parents gave him away to a farm (at least that’s what I was told) and I cried more that he was gone than when he bit me. I know it was an accident, but now I have a family of my own and have a 5 lb. yorkie mix. Owners are the ones who need to be responsible.

  13. Stephanie Says:

    I also sent an e-mail. I am still interested in possibly adopting or even fostering Kimmee. She was such a sweet heart! Keep us posted on her case PLEASE!

  14. Janet Says:

    SHAME on the insurance company that insisted the couple put their dog down. SHAME on them for doing it, rather than parting company with that insurance company. And SHAME on people who don’t teach their children how to interact with animals, and then turn around and blame the animals.

    Thank you, Pets Alive, for all you are doing for Kimmee. I’ve called, emailed and faxed.

    Sending love from our family, including Linus whom we adopted from Pets Alive in 2005!

  15. Annette Smith Says:

    Sent an email to the Judge today, but didn’t realize that it is probably too late. Hopefully, there is still time.

  16. kerry Says:

    It id not too late. We filed a motion to dismiss and new court hearing is the 26th.
    PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS! THANK YOU!

  17. Viola Martini Says:

    She was only protecting her home. Did this man ask permission to approach the dog. She was doing her job and with no history of violence, this man (although I feel really bad for him) overstepped his bounds. I would always ask permission to approach or pet a dog anywhere.

  18. charlene Says:

    They are NOT only animals!!! They are living, breathing creatures who have a right to live. If every human that made a mistake was put to death, this world would disapear. There are many HUMANS walking around that have killed on purpose and still have thier lives. Michael Vick murdered and tortured as you would say “only animals” and he is making millions to play ball. so they are not just animals, Jessie. Its ignorance like yours that harm these poor creatures.

  19. Paul and Nancy Says:

    We sent an email (twice) and fax to Judge Cione – Kimmie has overcome so much ill treatment and misfortune in her life – she deserves another chance. Her only biting incident occurred when she thought she was protecting her family. She has much love and loyalty to give – her case needs to be dismissed immediately.

  20. Elaine Arrant Says:

    So sorry that this happened. But, the repairman was not using his brain that GOD gave him. You do not lean into a dog’s face and kiss her/him. So very stupid. He should of known better. And because of his stupidity, a poor dog and Pets Alive has more problems that they certainly do not need. The animal control there should know better too. If the dog just went and bit him, it would be something enirley different. However, it was only human stupidity….nothing else. And, I am sure if it was a cute poodle, things would also be different too. But because it is a pittie…..everyone has to show their ignorance, closed hearts and narrowmindedness. Any kind of dog could of reacted the same way!

  21. Jason Di Palma Says:

    It has been said that people are much smarter than dogs yet we as people make the same mistakes often many times before learning our lesson. Why is it that we expect more from a dog than from ourselves? I worked with criminals my entire life. I know that most of them came from bad situations and we continue to give them the opportunity to change. This poor animal has not had an easy life either. Let’s hope the judge offers her as much compassion as the legal system offers ex cons. After all, the cost of her rehabilitation and care is not being paid for by the tax payers. Instead it appears that people like Laureen, people with a little power and an overblown ego are the ones who are costing the tax payers an unnecessary amount of money litigating a case against an animal that simply thought she was defending herself and her family. As for Jessie……where would you be today if you had been tossed from home to home as a child? Are you so perfect that you can’t forgive? I don’t think so……

Leave a Reply