Follow up to “Dangerous dog in Cap Hill attacked toddler and my dog”

Photo by PoPville flickr user Mike Maguire

Ed. Note: In July we posted a Dear PoPville – Dangerous dog in Cap Hill attacked toddler and my dog but Animal Control not doing anything.

“I’m finally getting to testify about my dog bite case at an upcoming hearing, but because the DC Department of Health (DOH) never followed up with any of previous attacks, my upcoming hearing is just to determine if the sheepdog is “Potentially Dangerous” rather than “Dangerous”. A Potentially Dangerous dog just has to be on a 4 ft leash, registered with the city, neutered, things like that. Which is better than nothing. But the problem is, even if my hearing succeeds and this dog is determined to be “Potentially Dangerous”, then he has one more opportunity to attack someone before any real restrictions will be placed on the owner (like having to muzzle her dog and notifying the authorities if he attacks someone again).

So, because the city failed to do anything in all of the previous bite cases, we have to treat my case as if it were the first time this dog has ever bitten anyone, even though the city provided me with a document via FOIA that shows this sheepdog has bitten 2 people (!) and 2 dogs (including my case on 12/15/2013) in 4 separate attacks in the past. Furthermore, the owner’s other dog, a brown standard poodle, also attacked a dog in 2010. So in the last 5 years, this woman has allowed her dogs to attack others 5 separate times (there was a 6th incident in which her sheepdog was apparently the victim according to the document, so I’m not counting that one). I redacted private info, labeled myself as Ms. A and the owner of the aggressive dogs as Ms. B in the descriptions, and put red arrows at the relevant parts of the document.

My favorite line from this document is where, after listing some of the previous attacks by this woman’s dogs, DOH writes, “Recommendation: I recommend closing out the case and informing Ms. [A] there’s no probable cause to start a potentially dangerous dog investigation on Arbor [the sheepdog]. Arbor has not bitten a person or dog this year and no menacing reports has not been reported to DCACC as of date.”

FOIA Request Case Number Redacted (PDF)

18 Comment

  • Can you take this person to court?

    • Accountering

      This would be the appropriate course of action here. It is unacceptable for her to keep putting her dog in a position where she knows he is likely to attack another dog/human.
      Unfortunately, pets are just treated as property, so damages would be limited to the damage/value of your dog. It seems like she has already done this, so there isn’t much more recourse. She is putting herself at serious risk here though. If he attacks a human with this record, she is going to be sued for all she is worth (and deservedly so)

      • One small problem with that, when I got bit, the owner was your typical Section 8 resident. She argued in court (and won) that she couldn’t even afford the $75 a month restitution payments. I received exactly $225 of the $2700 hospital bills I incurred from her dog’s bite.

        You can’t get blood from a rock….

  • Can you take the city and/or owner to court for negligence because they failed to do anything in all of the previous bite documented cases?

  • Can you take the city and/or owner to court for negligence because they failed to do anything in all of the previous documented bite cases?

    • Good luck with that. I’m sure they will argue they had no duty to do anything and are protected by sovereign immunity.

  • Do you know if the other attacks resulted in injury? If so did the victims seek medical attention? I ask because in a former life, I worked for the health department (Prince George’s County) By law, if the victim seeks medical attention the facility (Hospital Infection Control Practitioner) is required to complete an animal exposure report which begins a chain reaction with the city animal control and the health Department. Any animal that bites or scratches a person must me quarantined (10 days if up to date on vaccinations or 45 days with out proper vaccination records) and evaluated. I’m not sticking up for DOH at all (I have my share of encounters with them Smh ) but the ball could’ve been dropped by so many others it’s hard to know where to place the blame. I’m so sorry to hear this is happening to you. I had the luxury (for lack of better words) of sitting on the the Animal Control Co mission Team. In those 3 years, I saw everything you could think of. Although the result may not be want you want, I can not imagine that nothing would be done.

    • DC allows “quarantine” at the owners house, because they have neither the money or space to house animals. This of course leaves the vicious animal in the control of the owner that allowed it to attack in the first place.

  • After reading the attachment, this is ridiculous. in Prince George’s County, the dog would have been taken in to custody by now. This is horrible.

  • epric002

    i’m confused. just b/c a hearing on whether the dog(s) is dangerous didn’t previously occur, why does that mean that all of the evidence about prior bites can’t be presented/considered?

    • Because the bowels of DC bureaucracy are maddeningly Kafkaesque.

    • Not that I agree with the city for not following up previously (as they clearly should have done) -consider this:

      If you were arrested but the charges were dropped – why should it be held against you in the future?

      • Yeah but that isn’t a strong analogy here. They weren’t unfounded accusations of bites, they were confirmed bites that the victims did not wish to take further action on.

        • Completely agree and the statement on FOIA request is ridiculous. Looks like someone doesn’t want to do paperwork. It’s a real shame too because it appears people’s well being are on the line.

      • epric002

        the prior bites weren’t just alleged, there appear to be, based on the FOIAed documents, actual victims and civil resolution of the bite incidences.

      • Accountering

        I would argue that a history of assault, even if charges are dropped, should be held against you. I think our courts disagree though.

  • I was also the victim of a dog attack by an 80lb pitt/rott mix in SW back in 2013 while I was walking my dog. I ended up going to the hospital for stitches in my right calf that them got infected. I ended up having to go to the ER 3 times. This cost me $4700.
    DC neither seized the dog or did anything about it initially, other than ordering the dog quarantined IN THE OWNERS HOUSE for 10 days. I ALSO had to file FOIA requests to find out that this dog had attacked 2 other dogs before me. DC is horrible as far as dog bites go. They literally cannot do anything until the dog is declared dangerous, which in my case took 6 months. During that time the dog was allowed to run off leash and attacked and injured ANOTHER person and their dog. That made 4 dogs mauled and 2 people bit.

    After the initial court date for a “off leash” ticket, the Judge waived any fine and ordered the owner to pay restitution (of which I have received exactly $225 since 2013 and it has now stopped entirely). The judge ordered her to no longer own any pets, literally a week after the court case I saw her with the dog again. The owners actually hid the dog to prevent seizure and it took Police and Animal control 6 months to seize the dog. Then came the dangerous dog hearing, where the owner wanted to get the dog back (and COULD HAVE!!) if they had been able to meet the rather lax “requirements”. The dog was finally put down 8-9 months after my attack, because they could not comply with the dangerous dog requirements.

    I found out 8 months later the owner went back to court for another charge (driving w/o a license) where she also managed to convince the Judge to stop the restitution order because she “could afford it.” I ended up eating the $2700 cost my insurance didn’t pay.

  • Ally

    I hope everything goes well in court! And, at a minimum, I hope the dog owner starts to muzzle her dog(s) when she takes them for walks. If one of my pets did this ONCE, my first priority would be ensuring that it never happened again.

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