Sunday, February 23, 2014

An unpreventable tragedy, Part III

Were Dayton AC, Police, et. al. Culpable in Klonda Richey's death? The woman made multiple calls to AC, multiple 911 calls, and sought a protection order and got NO relief. The dogs she was complaining about ultimately killed her.

Many have been saying: "AC was negligent!" "Fire Mark Kumpf!" (the AC director) "Impeach the magistrate!" "Sue the Police!".

Did the Dayton City government run interference for the dog owners in the Richey case? Absolutely. However, the devil is in the details. It not so much the ENFORCEMENT of the laws, its how those laws are written.

Unless you have been physically on the front lines of the dog wars, you need to take everything you know about AC laws and throw them out the window. I have written many times in the past about the special legal protections that Fido enjoys. I was not kidding or exaggerating. I am completely serious.

Lets consider barking laws for a moment. What is the purpose of an "anti" barking law? If you think the purpose of an "anti" barking law is noise abatement you would be flat out, 100% WRONG. Indeed, the purpose of "anti" barking laws is to protect the owners of noisy dogs. The purpose of "anti" barking laws is to shift the entire legal burden to the victim AND to set the standard of prosecution so ridiculously high that few will attempt it.

Consider the letter I sent to my county administrator regarding some proposed "anti" barking laws in my locality. Generally, "anti" barking laws burden the victim and protect the perpetrator in 2 ways:

  1. Multiple household rule. I am not a lawyer, but I'm pretty sure this is unique in the legal universe. What this means is, each complaint requires that MULTIPLE complainants step forward before ANY action is taken. Imagine that someone steals your car and you have to get at least 2 neighbors to agree, in writing, that having your car stolen is a problem before authorities take any action... your head would explode, for sure, BUT this is EXACTLY what happens in the Fido universe!
  2. Consecutive disruption laws. This is another one that helps seal up Fido's overclass status. What this means is, in addition to having multiple complainants, the offense itself must continue unabated for a minimum amount of time before any action is taken. So, going back to the car theft analogy, if the thief joyrides for less than, say, 1/2 hour the theft was completely legal... even if you get all your neighbors to agree that the theft was an issue.

Its also important to consider that you can clear those enormous hurdles and the State may still find against you, particularly if the judge is Dorg.

Note that, typically, neither of the above is contemplated for any OTHER nuisance noises, such as fireworks. Fireworks enthusiasts typically get busted right off. Again, Fido and his owner have special protections the rest of us do not (though YMMV).

Another good example of this effect is the infamous "One Bite Rule". This states that a dog/owner gets to attack you one time and get off scott free. I wonder, how do they even keep track of this? They probably don't, particularly if the dog owner changes jurisdictions. In any case, again, contrast this with the rest of the legal system – Where is there a "one burglary rule" or a "one bank robbery rule"? Sure, perhaps the penalty for first time offenders may be less than for repeat offenders, but its generally not nothing. Again, the purpose of many of our "dangerous dog laws" is NOT public safety. The purpose of many "dangerous dog" laws is to keep biters biting.

In Florida, KILLING someone with your dog is only a 2nd degree misdemeanor. Off property attacks are often given a complete pass. Again, consider the Roy McSweeney incident.

The bottom line is, many of these "animal control" laws are crafted in such a way to protect the individual animal and individual animal owner. They are NOT crafted to protect public safety. This gives authorities a TON of plausible deniability.

Personally, I seriously doubt that the owners of the killer dogs in the Richey incident get any real jail time.  As far as I know, no charges have been filed at this time. Hell, the only reason the dogs are dead is because they tried to attack the cops at the scene (who promptly shot them). If they hadn't been killed at the scene I would not have been surprised to see the dogs spared and returned to the owners. Technically the dogs were first time offenders.

I also seriously doubt that Kumpf or anyone else in authority will be held accountable. Again, the laws are likely crafted in such a way that they ALL have a ton of weasel room. This is NOT unique to Dayton or anywhere else.


  1. OMG. I didn't know any of this.

    I thank God that the dogs in my neighborhood are not dangerous types of dogs. I don't like the idea of that 'one bite' thing at all.

  2. That's why so many of us think that Animal Control is an oxymoron. Run by morons.