Some good may come from Congo's ordeal

Discussion in 'Dog News and Articles' started by Lilavati, Nov 27, 2007.

  1. Lilavati

    Lilavati Arbitrary and Capricious

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    http://www.itchmo.com/proposed-bill-could-save-congo-the-dogs-life-3980#more-3980

    Frankly, that law will just give dogs the same benefit of the doubt that humans get when they hurt someone: a look at their point of view and a right to have the case against them proven beyong a reasonable doubt. Considering the sentence for dogs found "guilty" is always death, it only seems fair to me that they get at least some protections when they come into conflict with the law. I hope it passes.
     
  2. Renee750il

    Renee750il Felurian

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    What I want to know is when are they going to declare Municipal Court Judge Annich "potentially dangerous" and subject him to muzzling and containment?

    The laws regarding our animals ARE archaic and, I think, constitute cruel and unusual punishment . . . just look at the family's suffering when a dog is summarily and arbitrarily ordered to death by a bottom-rung, piddly municipal judge. This is the traffic court judge we're talking about . . . . :rolleyes:
     
  3. Groch

    Groch Gadget Hound

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    I have very mixed feelings about the proposed change.

    From what I can see, dogs would be excused if they attacked/maimed/killed persons who were "entering property without the presence, permission, or direction of the ownerâ€.

    You do not have the right to shoot someone simply because they trespass, you must be threatened. Should you have the right to train your dog to attack /maim/kill anyone who trespasses?

    Should any dog who feels threatened on his own property have the right to attack? Certainly many dogs feel threatened when there is no threat.

    If a child wanders into your yard to pet the pretty doggie, will lawyers be able to use the "entering property without permission" defense?
     
  4. 2dogmom

    2dogmom Pound Puppy

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    I didn't read it that way, that people could have trained atack dgos on their property and that that would be ok. It was more like, it is one thing if your dog is out on the street and goes after someone or their dog, and quite another if the dog feels he should be protecting his or her turf. Until now the laws pretty much always put all the blame on the dog, even if the humans could have figured out not to approach a dog who is being protective.
    Just my 2cents.
     
  5. Renee750il

    Renee750il Felurian

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    How about the "where the hell were the child's idiot parents and why weren't they doing their job?" defense . . . That's where the blame lies.
     
  6. Lilavati

    Lilavati Arbitrary and Capricious

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    I suspect, if this were applied, you'd end up with something like the 'reasonable man' standard used in human self-defense/defense of others cases. The standard goes like this:

    If a reasonable person, with the information available to them, would be in fear of death or serious bodily harm they can use deadly force to defend themselves. If doesn't matter if they actual were in danger of death or serious bodily harm, only that they reasonably believed it to be so. However, if you use deadly force and your belief was not reasonable (say the other person was shouting and calling you names, but had no weapon and wasn't strong enough to overpower you) even if you actually did believe that you were danger, you are guilty of homicide.

    What should be applied is a 'reasonable dog' standard (and that's how I read this when I saw it). The reasonable dog standard would go like this (ignore that a dog can not technically be 'reasonable' under the law): If a well-socialized, good-tempered dog, acting on the information available to it, taking into consideration the average intelligence of dogs and their non-human nature, would believe that it or a human being is threatened with death or serious bodily harm, then the dog is justified in attacking. This means that kids sticking fingers through the fence, or even wandering into the yard would not count, but Congo would.

    If you try to look at it as Congo would, he acted reasonably. There was human shouting . . . an intruder entered the yard. Congo and his mate and pups warned the intruder and called the human members of the pack to investigate (They barked). The intruder then threatened and tried to strike Congo, his mate, and his pups with a big, scary loud metal object. Then the alpha female (the wife) shouting (alarm call) comes into the yard. The intruder makes violent physical contact with her, and she makes a fear-pain-distress cry (she screams) and is thrown to the ground. You attack the intruder, who has, in no uncertain terms (by dog standards) show himself to be unfriendly and dangerous. The alpha male then comes out and orders you to stop, and like a good subordinate member of the pack you do, even though the alpha female has been attacked.

    By those standards, Congo didn't just act like a reasonable dog, he acted like a VERY reasonable dog.
     
  7. Lilavati

    Lilavati Arbitrary and Capricious

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    Since I've been asked to make shorter posts, I'm splitting this:


    Such a rule, that you have to look at it through the dog's eyes and decide if it acted as a good-tempered, well-socialized dog would prevent the sort of tragic situations, like Congo's, where the dog is treated unfairly such as:

    The dog defends itself, or another dog from an attack by a human
    The dog defends itself or its owner from what it has every reason to believe is an attack
    A human doing something really, really stupid (like breaking into your house when you aren't home without prior notice) is bitten. (in this case, the dog is reasonable to think that an unannouced and stealthy intruder in the den itself is up to no good)

    It shouldn't cover little children petting the pretty puppy (but it might well cover a screaming child chasing a dog around a yard, especially a small dog) , because a well-socalized dog should be able to cope with that, even on its own territory. If that's not the case, either by accident or design,(the dog is not well tempered or well socialized or its a guard dog) then its the owner's responsibility to keep little children out. Or older children. Or anyone at all, depending on the dog.

    On the other hand, if someone is actually breaking into your yard, and you've made it clear that they aren't welcome (tall fence) and you have a dog (BEWARE OF DOG) then in many states,(but not all) it's the trespassers' fault anyway and not the dog's. (I do think in those cases the dog should not be destroyed . . . its not like the victims didn't have some warning).

    Take my yard for example. I don't have a beware of dog sign (I'm pretty sure Sarama would not bite an intruder unless provoked and I don't want to give that impression) but I do have a six foot privacy fence locked from the inside. It is climbable, but not by a small child . . . you'd have to be about ten to get over it.

    By the time someone is ten, they should know better than to climb into other people's yards, especially if there is a high locked fence, especially if there is a dog in there, and extra specially if there is a beware of dog sign. But I think that's a separate legal issue . . . its called bring back assumption of risk and contributory negligence, and don't punish the owner (by killing their dog) for someone else's raving stupidity. (Not to mention the dog, who's owner did their best to protect them)

    Actually, to the credit of ten year olds . . . a couple were playing behind my house and the ball went in my yard. They didn't even try to open the gate, or climb the fence . . . they walked around the hosue to the front, knocked on the door and politely asked for their ball back. Good kids!
     
  8. Renee750il

    Renee750il Felurian

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    Very good explanation, Lilavati. Not many people get through law school and can still communicate, lol!
     
  9. corgipower

    corgipower Tweleve Enthusiest

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    does anyone have a link for the actual bill? i looked for it, but couldn't find it.
     
  10. Lilavati

    Lilavati Arbitrary and Capricious

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    Well, if you really want, I could say it in legalese, complete with blue booked citations . . . but I'll spare you.
     
  11. SarahFish

    SarahFish New Member

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    Um, what's that got to do with the attacking charge. There's nothing wrong with breeding this dog is it isn't a mill or BYB, and is purebred pups to good approved homes.

    And I had to laugh, absolutely brilliant!
     
  12. darkchild16

    darkchild16 We are Home.

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    I hope this bill goes through! We need one in Florida though. THe only law like that we have in Florida is for humans with guns i think they should amend it to include dogs too. I almost had to pay when Walker bit the guy who tried to hit me then kicked Walker because he had to get stiches (sp?) but the ACO was there and testified for Walker thank god for good ACO's.

    Im sorry but if a kid came on to my property at least the ones around here and they got bit I wouldnt really feel bad or fault Walker becuase they are not taught or accompanied by an adult. Walker does not like to be approached by screaming kids and is terrified by them like most dogs and thats how the kids in my neighboorhood approach dogs. I wont even let them approach him on a walk except for the girl next doog becuase she LOVES walker and patches and has known them since we got them.
     
  13. Renee750il

    Renee750il Felurian

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    Heheh . . . oh I don't mind. Among a lot of other legal work, I've been taking legalese and translating it to clients for well over 15 years ;) It's rare to run across an attorney - let alone a 'baby' one (newly passed the bar :D ) who either can or will translate. That's a skill I hope you hang onto.
     
  14. Romy

    Romy Taxiderpy

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    Exactly. There are plenty of child endangerment/neglect laws already. Why don't people actually enforce them when a child is injured because they were not properly supervised by their guardians? That would solve a whole lot of problems right there.

    Like leaving a 3 year old alone in a yard with several large dogs (some of which don't live there), and then destroying all the dogs when one of them bites/kills the poor baby. That's kind of like throwing a child onto the freeway, and then charging someone else (driver) with being responsible for their injury or death instead of the morons who put the child in the situation in the first place.

    In addition to BSL, I'm often fighting legislation that restricts exotic animal ownership. One of our biggest arguments is for neglectful parents to actually be charged where applicable by law, for putting their children into dangerous situations, rather than passing more laws that are nearly impossible to enforce.
     
  15. Kayla

    Kayla New Member

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    Yay i really hope the bill does pass it would be a great step towards understanding dogs from a legal stand point and prehaps down the road pave the way for other enlightened dog laws and strike down more ignorant ones like BSL.

    Kayla
     
  16. Lilavati

    Lilavati Arbitrary and Capricious

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    You might also, in the "reasonable dog" standard want to take into account what kind of bite. Did it break the skin? Was it just a snap that might not have been intended to connect? (both can be warnings) Or was it a full blow bite . . . or two or three . . .or a mauling? I forgot to put that in. A reasonable dog might snap or bite once in a given situation, but mauling would be excessive . . . though I don't think Congo was being excessive, he'd been pushed awfully far.


    On the point of irresponsible parents . . . If I learned anything in law school (and from life) its that situations can be very complex. The small child with the three large dogs (two of them strangers) is an example of fairly obvious stupidity . . . but perhaps the family KNOWS those dogs and knows they are gentle. Its still not really smart, and it is dangerous, but a case of child endangerment? I'm not sure.

    One thing I like about this law is that it separates the viciousness of the dog from the owner's liability . . . the owner can be negligent (Congo's owners might have been, I just dont' have enough fine detail) but the dog is not at fault. On the other hand, it could cause situations, where the dog is found vicious, despite the owner's best attempts to keep people away . . . that needs to be taken into account as well.

    But we can't always blame the parents. Sometimes, we have to *gasp* blame the child. Children, like dogs, are autonomous beings. They are not robots under their parents control. And I'm convinced that our current social standard of keeping children locked in the house, under supervision at all times, chained with cell phones if they are not, is very unhealthy. Not just because it encourages obesity, but because it prevents the growth of independence and independent thought.
     
  17. Lilavati

    Lilavati Arbitrary and Capricious

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    I've lived in neighborhoods where parents let their children, of all ages, run wild all over at all hours. Are these parents neglectful? Yes. Half the time they aren't even home.

    But the neighborhood I live in now, children are allowed out to play. They play ball in the alley behind my house, they go the the nearby park on their own, they ride their bikes on the street, etc. They are well behaved, well loved children. I'm GLAD they are allowed to do these things. I think its good for them. I'm appalled at people who drive their kids two blocks to school because they are afraid something might happen. Something MIGHT happen (but it probably wont). . . and the kids need to grow up . . .and they need the excercise.

    So our tendancy to scream "bad parent!" whenever something goes wrong can be dangerous in its own right. I remember several scrapes I got into as a child that had they turned out badly, and happened today, my parents might have been charged with endangerment and neglect. . . and I think I had good parents. I was just an independent, clever child. A generation ago . . . and even more so my parents generation, there was an understanding that accidents happen. Sometimes they are in fact the child's fault . . . sometimes they are no one's fault. Sometimes, in an otherwise safe sitaution, something goes wrong.

    As for chldren getting into a dog's yard, I think we really need to look at the entire situation. How well marked was the yard? What was the child doing? Were there warning signs? How old was the child? What was the dog doing? There's a huge difference between a kid climbing into a yard with a high fence, with warning signs, and an obvious snarling dog, and a kid running onto a yard (with an invisible fence) to get a ball and a dog darting out from under the porch to attack him. Now, I'd say those cases are pretty clear cut . . .where it gets difficult, and where this law comes in, is where you have a normal garden three-four foot fence, no lock on the gate, no sign, dog is there but has never harmed anyone . . . barks, perhaps . . . kid's ball bounces in the yard, kid doesn't see dog, slips into get ball, dog walks around the house, sees kid and bites . . . I'd say that dog wasn't being "reasonable" and its owner is at fault . . for not locking the gate, for leaving the dog out when he wasn't at home . . . take your pick.

    But another ambigious situation . . . same dog, same kid, same fence, same ball . . . the dog is visible, the kid comes in, sees the dog (who barks or growls), runs to get the ball, and then throws the ball at the dog's head. Perhaps the kid is scared . . . perhaps he's mean, doesn't matter. From the dog's perspective, an intruder has entered, been warned, and then attacked him . . . a nice bite on the leg is in order (but a mauling might not be).

    But are the parent's at fault in either of these situations? Assuming they told the kid never to go in someone else's yard, probably not. The kid made the decision on his own to get his ball, even though it was against the rules. Kids do that.
     
  18. Lilavati

    Lilavati Arbitrary and Capricious

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    Since I never shut up, one more post:

    Then there is Flash the Rottie. Flash is a very nice dog. Fortunately, for everyone, Flash is a very nice dog. He lives behind a tallish wire fence (four feet) and a very tall wood fence in back. There are beware of dog, no tresspassing signs everywhere. I used to avoid his yard. I used to cross the street with Sarama (he does bark) when I went past. I assumed that this Rottie was a mean dog.

    Flash is not a mean dog. I got to talking to his owner. Kids had been climbing in a pestering him. Taunting him, poking him with sticks (we know who they were, its THAT family on the block . . you know THAT family? Every block has one). She called their parents, and told them to keep their kids off her land and away from her dog . . . and the parents screamed at her and cussed her out. The kids came back . . . after this happening several times, she increased the height of the fence, but up the signs, and called the police on the kids.

    No one was hurt . . . Flash is a nice dog . . . but someone could have been . . . and it would have been not only the kid's fault, but their parents . . not only for not teaching them better, but for ignoring a warning from the dog's owner. Frankly, I can't imagine a parent not being alarmed at a child tormenting a rottie . . . but appearently there are some . . . in that case, yeah, blame the parents. Criminal charges may be in order
     
  19. Groch

    Groch Gadget Hound

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    Lilavati, thanks for your excellent and detailed posts on this. I hereby volunteer you to insert your analysis into all future posts requiring logical legal analysis :p

    I need to catch up with some questions as I could not log on for a couple of days

    You said:
    You provide a detailed description of what happened...but I thought that this was exactly what was in dispute. Your description seems to follow what the family said. This differs from what the gardeners said......and frankly, neither one is an unbiased disinterested party. I think to jump to conclusions either way is a mistake, which is why I would defer to whatever final verdict their is from a hopefully unbiased judge who hears both sides. We are often too quick to judge without having all the facts.

    Your description of "reasonable force" was excellent and enlightening. Some posters here seem to think that if they put up a fence and post the property , then they or their animals can do ANYTHING to an intruder.

    Folks, the penalty for trespassing, or even robbery is not death. If you train your dog to kill anything that comes into the yard, then it does not matter how high your fence is, you are going to get prosecuted. You cannot booby trap your yard with lethal objects of any kind....animal, mineral, or vegetable.

    You cannot kill to protect property, you CAN kill to defend yourself.
     
  20. Renee750il

    Renee750il Felurian

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    Oh, now that is an animal that is all but extinct, Groch ;)

    Trust me, you won't get anything remotely resembling all the facts in a courtroom proceeding.
     

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