Joe tried to report the neglect of this dog and was ignored. He got feed up and took him home to save him from starvation and fleas and mange and was arrested. Here is his story in his own words.
During the month of May I was commuting aprox. 30 miles each way to Gadsden AL.
to produce a 90 ft. mural at the Hardin Center.
During the first couple days as I was driving down Hwy. 278 West, I stopped at a closed auto repair shop/junkyard to look at a car that interested me.
It was there that I found a young Akita chained to a pile of rocks, with little or no food, just a couple inches of water in a filthy bucket. He was sleeping most days under a wrecker with a metal bed that surely radiated the intense heat of that month.
He also had a dog house and there was the smallest of a tree that might have provided shade for short periods of the day, but most of the time he was totally exposed to the sun. The shop was never open, and I found out later that it was due to the fact that the owner had a full time job elsewhere.
started dropping off food for him every morning when I passed by, and I'd put on my work gloves and give him a good petting and rub down even though he was mangy and smelling.
He'd literally moan with relief from the touch and the attention. I'd also try to take the large ticks off of him but he'd cry with pain if I tried to get too many at one time. About the second or third time I stopped by.. there was a dead rat in his water bucket along with oil residue and black mold in the bucket, it was too much to bear so I called Animal control.
Within the next day or so they checked out the situation and informed me that I'd have to file a complaint with the City Police dept. to give them any leverage to take action. I did this the very same day in hopes of bringing relief for the dog one way or another. After three weeks no direct action had been taken other than contacting the owner, I also noticed that there was more water in the bucket and residue of some kind of food left for him that were such small pellets it's resembled rabbit food more than dog food. I kept bringing food anyway.
I finished the mural on Friday May 25, after working in the sun for a month of long hours and weekends. I was tired as hell and trying to recover, but the thought of that dog's plight was keeping me awake at night. The next couple mornings I drove to the junk yard to feed the dog and I called animal control again who told me they'd take the dog on Saturday if it was still there. Sunday morning I drove up to check and the dog was still there... so I loaded him in the cab of my truck and brought him home,,dumb, dumb, dumb...
He was one happy boy though... I set up a 30 ft. or so zip line in my backyard under two old Pear trees, a large Persimmon tree and a large fig bush. There was lots of healthy grass and lots of shade. I filled a wash tub full of water and cobbled together a temporary dog house out of shipping crates, plywood and tarps. I assume this was the first time for most of his life that the Akita had some room to run back and forth, and he loved it, he drank the wash tub half empty in the first two days. I naively listed the dog on Craigslist Atlanta.. free to a responsible owner with a fenced back yard, ability to pay for veterinary care, and a knowledge of Akitas.. If you read up on them you'll find that they are a Japanese guard dog that has very different personality traits and characteristics than the average dog. I'd become somewhat familiar with them while I was living on the West coast for most of my career, and I also knew what a healthy well cared for Akita was supposed to look like, and this one was in dire straights. After reading about them myself.. it turns out that the first Akita was brought to the United States in 1937 by.... Helen Keller!
By Weds. May 30th I'd found no new home for the dog, even though I'd contacted two Akita rescue organizations and had spoken or corresponded with many respondees from the Ad,, one of whom it turns out, was working for the police or the dog's owner.
Late Weds. afternoon I was still getting my shop organized, cleaning out the truck, enjoying some time off, and the company of the Akita. I looked up from my tasks and noticed four official vehicles in my driveway.. two sheriffs cars, one police car, and an animal control truck... Boy it's a heavy feeling in the pit of your stomach when you see THAT in your driveway.. my anxiety level and heart rate jumped into 5th gear...
After they asked me my name, my first question was.."are you going to arrest me?" and they said yes.. Whew! never been there done that... now my mind was whirling big time and I could see all the progress I've made in the last few years swirling down the toliet.
This was particularly apropos because that's exactly what I manifested in 1994 when I was in a head on collision right after finishing a major project in CA. when my career was at an all time high and I had all these great opportunities lined up. Everything then, went "back to Go" and I had compression fractures in my back, no vehicle, a major law suit against me, and a concussion so bad that if I moved my head too quickly for the first two weeks that I'd get that whirling motion back and forth that they use on cartoon characters when they've been "El Kabonged" on the head by another cartoon character.
So this is what's going through my mind as I'm loaded into the back of the police car and the police are photographing my dog habitat and loading the Akita into the Animal control truck. One of the Sheriffs deputies was putting out a particularly strong G.I. Joe vibe and I got the impression that I'd better be very cool or he was going to go postal on me.. As it turns out I was correct. I found out at the police station that previous to coming to my home they'd just returned from an arrest where they'd actually had to fight with the fellow they were attempting to collect.. What I'm very thankful for is the fact that the officer from Piedmont who actually arrested me was a female who was also a Sargent and very collected and calm. She was kind enough to hand cuff me in front of my body and believe it or not she used Hot Pink hand cuffs... I kid you not! That in it'self spoke volumes to me and I knew that I was being cut some major slack.. I realize that I was talking a mile a minute on the ride to the police station out of nervousness... she was very patient and cool..Just think how much more of a hellish place this planet would be without the female energy. It makes all those Post Apocolyptic movies seem like a walk in the park, cause at least they have females to lend a bit of sanity to the suffering.
After some time processing me and finger printing every concievable part of my hand that you can imagine on this new computer gizmo, they let me call from a list of Bail bond providers by the phone. I was fortuate to semi recognize a company name in the next town over and called them. My bond was $1,000 and I needed someone to co-sign on the bond, so I called my brother. Again I was fortunate that the bondsman recognized my name because one of the murals I painted in Anniston for the 50th anniversary of the Freedom riders being attacked in Anniston, was behind the bondsman's office! He personally offered to drive up to get me out. In the interim it was time for my officer to go home, so she apologized but had to put me in the pokie (with 5 other fellows who'd been there awhile and were'nt going anywhere anytime soon), till my bondsman arrived. So I was literally stepping into new territory once again.. The door to the jail cell alone was sobering but also inspiring.. since my side career is selling architectural salvage and antiques. The cell door looked like something out of a Frankenstein movie and was obviously very old and well used. I almost offered to buy it like the guys on the "Pickers" show do.
The jail cell was very large, painted industrial grey with 6 bunks welded out of angle iron and bolted and welded to the floor. It was very clean with no bad smells, there were 5 fellows inside in various stages of conscienceness (one never woke up the whole time I was there) all of whom were laying or sitting on their bunk beds. There was one toilet in the corner and a shower stall next to it. Having watched the movie The Shawshank redemption numerous times, my mind immediately jumped to expecting the fellow inmates to start chanting "Fresh Fish fresh fish" and begin quarreling among themselves to see who was going to get the honor of popping the straight guy's cherry... but all that was just mind flatulence.... these guys were more interested in just resting.. What they did want to know was "what time it was?" they had no clock and couldn't tell from their limited light coming through a grated window what time it was till it was dark. They said that was disconcerting and that the lights never went off and the buzz of the large venting fan never stopped either.
There were no chairs or anywhere else to sit other than the one vacant upper bunk bed or the floor, so I chose to sit against the wall furthest from the other inmates. Of course a couple of the more lucid ones wanted to know what I was in for and I told them I was stupid enough to steal a dog and advertise it on Craigslist.. One of the fellows immediately brightened up and wanted to converse. He was obviously the youngest, 19 yrs. old, and also the least deserving of being in jail.
For the next 45 minutes or so that I was incarcerated he and I spoke about everything from religion to personal growth and career opportunities. He was eager for information on how to grow beyond his present circumstances and I gave him some suggestions and book titles (he scribble on a scrap of paper) that have helped me overcome some of my personal issues..They didn't have any reading material or writing paper in the cell, though he did have a small bible that he said had been helpful to him. Time passed very quickly while we talked and only one of the other prisoners chimed in on occasion but I could tell he and the others were barely hearing or caring about anything the young fellow and I were speaking about.
Before long an officer called my name through the bars of the cell door and opened it to let me out, I quickly shook hands with the young fellow, said good bye and good luck to the others and walked out. The officer then brought me into a conference room where the bondsman was waiting with paper work on the table and his cute little daughter that could not have been older than 5th grade at the most sitting next to him across the table from me. I was shocked and greatly honored that this fellow would have the confidence to bring his daughter with him on his trip to assist me. I apologized to her for the soiled cloths I was wearing because I'd been arrested while working at home and I had my working duds on that are covered with stains and paint.
I could tell she was wise beyond her years and she just smiled in understanding. We got our paper work done and the attending officer gave me a zip lock baggie with my wallet, eye glasses, and car keys in it, had me sign release papers, and pointed out my court date and the stipulation that "I was not to contact the dog's owner either directly or indirectly" and that doing so would void the conditions of my release.
We climbed into the Bondsman's car and he informed me he needed to pick up his other daughter who was nearby before going home and that he could give me a ride to my house. We went by an ATM and I paid him the $100 it took to cover the bond we drove a mile or so to their friend's house picked up his teenage daughter who was much less accepting of my presence than the younger one and who immediately continued some ongoing argument she had with the younger daughter. The bondsman asked her to chill out, that it had been a good day and he wanted to keep it that way, and we drove down the Hwy towards my house. It was then that he told me that he knew me from the Bus mural project and that he also knew my father and brother.. Oh the benefits of the small town life... thank you Buddha. They dropped me off at home and he said that I had no further financial obligations on the bond. I gave him an extra $20 for the ride home.
I stood in my driveway in a fugue state for awhile, just looking at the trees, grass, and my upcoming garden in the twilight..It was really hard to get my head around what just happened and all the intense experiences of the last few hours.. That same sinking feeling that I'd thoroughly shot myself in the foot came back, but I reassured myself that I was older and ever so slightly wiser now and that I could get through this if I just controlled my tendency towards negative thinking and the resulting emotions..I also realized that I had been placed in a moral dilemma and I felt like I had to do something.. not because I was right and the law was wrong, or that I was a better person than the dog's owner. It was because taking no action was just wrong and the mental torture of not doing something was more pain than the consequences..That is what's driven me most of my life for better or worse.
It's been a bit of a blurr since Wendsday, I'm preparing for another project, communicating with folks who could educate me on what to do next, and doing triage on my finances in anticipation of the fines and court costs.
I recieved a letter from the courts Sat. that my court date had been moved to July 2, thank goodness.. that takes allot of the heat off.
So there's the litany of an impetuous dude, I'll let you know how things come out.
Thank you to my family, friends, and supporter I've met through the web, it would have been much worse without you.
If you feel moved to help defray my bail and court costs you may donate here. Any money left over will go to either free the Akita (and get him fixed and re-homed) or failing that, to a local animal rescue charity.
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