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Dear PoPville – 911 Responding to Anonymous Calls for an Animal in Distress

by Prince Of Petworth December 14, 2011 at 2:30 pm 43 Comments


Photo by PoPville flickr user Massoud Adibpour

Dear PoPville,

I dialed 911 twice last night and once this morning. On my walk home last night, I heard a loud growling/snarling coming from a basement unit on my street, which to me sounded like a dog either in extreme distress or in a fight. I called animal control, but because the animal was not outside and thus not under their jurisdiction, they directed me to the police. This was around 9 PM.

I did not feel comfortable leaving my contact information with 911; I wanted my concerns to be anonymous because I live on the same block and do not want to get involved in a potentially scary scenario involving my neighbors. The person I spoke with at 911 said that I would not be required to come outside and speak to the police, but that they would dispatch someone to check out the property. I left my first name and cell phone number, but did not receive a call later on to update me on what they found, if anything.

Around midnight, I heard more sounds coming from what sounded like the same unit. This time, though, it sounded like the dog was hurt or in danger. I called again, and 911 said they would dispatch someone to look into it. Once again, I didn’t hear anything further from them. The sounds seemed to stop, or at least were not keeping me awake anymore, so I assumed that it was worked out overnight.

However, on my way to work this morning, I heard more distressed sounds coming from what I assume is the same animal. It appears that he/she was still inside the unit, so I called 911 for the third time. I was connected directly with the police dispatch, who told me that she did not have any updates for me from last night. Here is what concerned me the most: she said that unless I was willing to speak with police when they arrived, there was not much they could do. I expressed my concern that this prevents neighbors from calling when they think someone needs help for fear of inflaming a situation with someone on their street, and she agreed that this is problematic. The last thing I want is for these particular neighbors to find out that I’m the one who called. If there is, in fact, something shady happening at that house, I certainly do not want to be on their radar.

I guess my question to you and to your readers is this: have you called 911 with an anonymous tip before? If so, were they helpful, or did they expect you to step outside and give a statement, which would defeat the purpose of giving a tip anonymously?

Further, I am very worried about the animal(s) living in this unit. This is not the first time I’ve heard a disturbance from them before, and I don’t know who else to call if both animal control and the police are not doing a whole lot to help. If there is an abusive situation, something needs to be done. Any advice or information you could provide would be very helpful.

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