Buck (7 years old) and Bill (10 years old) have lived their lives as loving, intelligent, dedicated, and protective family members. Bill virtually saved the life of his owner from the assault of a sexual predator who accosted her in a shopping mall parking lot. Witnesses applauded Bill’s courage, assertiveness, and ability to control the situation without undue force. Bill also took on a pack of five wild dogs when they attacked the owner’s working horses and began to turn upon her in a remote pasture. Without his assistance, in which he sustained grievous injuries, none would have made it to safety. He even rescued the lamb you see in the above photo. Buck was born on the owner’s pillow. He was laid there by his mother, a nationally top-ranked working and ranch trial champion bred and trained by the owner herself. At the young age of 9 months Buck prevented a large flock of the owner’s sheep from escaping down an open road when a visiting neighbor forgot to secure a gate, and he did so on his own accord...seeing the incident before the owner herself was aware of the situation. He returned the flock with savvy and poise, never once unsettling even the most frightened of animals. His sweet nature, talent, and natural ability surpass even that of his mother.
For the better part of a decade both dogs have been consistent, loyal, and devoted partners. They have served in canine therapy settings, as income producing working dogs, were known as “The Joy Boys” at a Buddhist center where the owner was employed, have trotted for miles alongside the owner on horseback, and have performed brilliantly as demo dogs for the owner’s own canine training classes. Numerous affidavits presented at the original hearing which was to determine their fate gave evidence as to the temperament of the dogs, to the proficiency of the owner as a canine professional, and as to her character as a solid citizen. Timewise the documents spanned from one to twenty five years, and they were written by residents of Kansas, Missouri, Texas, and Florida.
Buck and Bill have been sentenced to die for an extremely unfortunate incident that leaves everyone who knows them and has come to know them unsettled, perplexed, and angry at the suffering they have endured while incarcerated in a single kennel for nearly 6 months at Manatee County Animal Services. While it is true that a young man was bitten, there is more to the story than mere dog aggression. To many who have reviewed the case, it is obvious that the dogs were in a protective mode and were provoked in some manner to a degree of high anxiety that caused them to leave a residence in which they were secured and extremely comfortable. In the one and a half years they had visited the neighborhood and stayed in this home, there was never before an incident with these dogs. That the boy involved was injured was an accident, even the father said as much on a national news broadcast, and he also stated that this was a “forgive and forget” situation. The owner herself testified that something caused the dogs to be on high alert the day previous to the incident and at approximately the same time of day that the incident occurred, but this was passed over at the hearing. The dogs perceived a threat of some type, photos of the residence inside and the damaged window give evidence of this, but again this was barely considered at the hearing. The sheriff’s department deputy at the scene on the night of the incident said the back door of the house was not secured, which was wrong according to the owner of the dogs. Later in that week a neighboring house was broken into and a deputy placed on patrol in the neighborhood, but no new investigation was allowed as to what might have happened on the afternoon of the incident. During the course of the appeal proceedings in which the fate of the dogs was decided, the attorney representing the family of the boy injured signed a sworn affidavit. It was filed with the court, and it attested that the wishes of the family were that the dogs “NOT BE euthanized” and should be released to their owner. No legal document filed with the court rescinds this position. The owner’s personal residence and facility passed rigorous inspected by Sumter County Animal Services, and this agency stated that all requirements of the Florida statutes pertaining to maintaining and securing the dogs were not only met but exceeded. Sumter County’s requirements are more extensive than those of Manatee County, and these were met as well.
Manatee County has continued to ignore common sense in this case. Even after nearly half a year the county maintains that these two exceptional dogs must die. They are suffering, not even allowed to urinate or defecate outside of a kennel built to house one dog for a limited duration. Despite the fact that a Manatee County approved boarding and training facility has offered to house the dogs humanely during the proceedings, the County maintains that this gesture requires yet another court order. The owner has to drive over 225 miles every week just to get the dogs outdoors to exercise, relieve themselves naturally, and get some fresh air. The intent behind the Florida statute is that the dogs be released to their owner unless that individual cannot or will not pay the fines and/or properly maintain the dogs in the future. Moreover, the statute clearly allows dogs classified as dangerous (even those that have inflicted damage) to live...they can even compete in legally sanctioned agility, herding, obedience, conformation, and field trials. Thus the owner is neither deprived of property nor pursuit of personal freedoms, and the dogs are allowed to have a life under proper management.
Manatee County appears not to care about spending a fortune to kill two dogs when banishment to another county is a perfectly acceptable and lawful option, one previously utilized in similar cases throughout Florida and across the country. So why does this insanity continue? It is simple...it all comes down to fear and finances. Manatee County fears some future, non-existent lawsuit, even though no other dogs deemed “dangerous” and released to their owners have ever created a problem in the history of Manatee County. These dogs all reside within Manatee County.
Please sign this petition and help save Buck and Bill, two very wonderful and much-loved dogs who deserve to live. By doing so, you tell Manatee County that you do not approve of the costly and inhumane course of action taken against these dogs, you do not believe that these dogs should be euthanized, and you do believe that they should be returned to their owner. Remember too that this case may very well set a precedent for the future. Saving the life of Buck and Bill may very well prevent any other dogs from being kept in deplorable conditions without any hope of quick relief other than death while their cases are drug through the legal system.
Thank you for your time and consideration in this matter and for your support. May God bless you!
Karen Erskine started this petition with a single signature, and now has 23,103 supporters. Start a petition today to change something you care about.