Recently Neil has been sharing links to various stories of police officers reportedly entering onto private property only to be greeted by a barking dog (or protective property owner) and thus shooting said dog or owner. I know for many years now people all over the U.S. have won lawsuits for injuries sustained while trespassing on another’s property. What I want to know is when did this become OK? Why has it become OK? Why should I be required to post that I have a dog in MY yard? Or to put a fence around MY pool to protect the neighbor’s kids (who don’t belong in my yard to begin with)? Why should I build fences and have to take extra precautions around my property in order to protect myself from other people who were never invited into my yard or home – people who do not belong there?
The latest story really got me pissed: It is about Fred, an 11 year old Dalmatian that was shot by a police officer who entered these folk’s property without ever ringing their bell. (Her visit was in response to a call regarding a barking dog in the neighborhood…noise disturbance issue.)
I am angry for Fred, I am angry for his owners, and I am appalled at the lack of common courtesy and sense used by a supposed law enforcement officer. To Serve and Protect? Isn’t that their creed?
Many years ago a friend of my sister had his dog stolen out of his fenced yard. It turns out it was by some lady who claimed the dog was being neglected. (Trust me, the dog was FAR from neglected.) It turns out the lady was an absolute wacko who had done this before with dogs and cats around the area. Unfortunately, our friend had to prove to the county that he was indeed a good pet owner before his dog would be returned to him. Even though the lady was already on the books as having done this before. It took several weeks before he got his dog. It was back then that I vowed, even with a fenced yard, I would never leave my dog outside unattended.
When I was a kid, there were cats that were going missing from our neighborhood…they were being stolen and sold to testing labs. To this day, it kills me having outdoor kitties. I have nightmares that they will be stolen.
People talk about the wonders of the new invisible fence technology…but apparently, as the above story (linked) illustrates, you still need to post a myriad of signs to tell people who may be wandering through your yard that there is a dog there. I am sure this officer would have had a field day at the house down the street here that has two large Rottweilers in their invisibly fenced yard. The vengeful part of me wishes this idiot of a woman would have gotten bitten. But of course, then these poor people would probably have been required by the courts to have their dog, who was only protecting his house and territory, put down.
Our law enforcement officials on as a majority, have gotten out of hand with their power trips and their stupidity in handling what should be nonthreatening situations…and the courts routinely stand behind their rash, poor decisions.
Another story Neil had sent me the link to was about a dog who was shot by police officers that were going through someone’s yard to get to another house to serve a warrant on “petty minor charges”. They never warned these neighbors that they would be in their yard and when the dog of the house came barking at the officers and apparently bit one of them, they shot the dog and killed it. The state police say they will compensate the family for their loss. What? Do they have some secret technology to turn back time or to resurrect dead animals? And seriously, five or six shots? That is emptying the gun into the dog. That is overdoing it in my books, even for chasing down a hardened criminal, but a dog in its own yard that isn’t a part of the warrant or part of a crime scene?
The problem is, I am not sure what the answer is here. Because it is law enforcement making these stupid decisions and creating these problems, there is usually no recourse. Sure Fred’s owners are going to sue, but the chances of them winning? My gut says slim to none…though I wish them the best and hope they get an arm and a leg for it. And of course none of this helps Fred…he still got shot…twice. That can never be taken back, or fixed, or changed. Even if he is OK, he was still shot. All because there doesn’t seem to be any law or rule governing the right to Private Property any longer.
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I apologize for the rambling here…I am angry that the state of things these days seems to make it OK for stuff like this to happen. And even if it isn’t OK, there doesn’t seem to be any way to fix these sorts of problems. So, to all you dog owners and lovers out there: keep an eye on your animals. Don’t leave them unattended outside…or if you must, build a nice enclosed run for them or a sturdy fence around the yard that cannot be opened from the outside (i.e. you can only open the gate from inside the yard) and post the stupid signs where any idiot can see them.