On June 5th 2013, at 10:20pm during our nightly leashed walk in Greenpoint Brooklyn, my dog, a Pomeranian named Arlo, was killed in an unprovoked dog attack on his first birthday. The owner of the other dog (a white German Shepherd) fled the scene after his dog quickly lunged at my dog and brutally attacked him, leaving me and my dying dog on the sidewalk. My beloved Arlo died in my arms on our way to an emergency vet. The most gentle, sweet, and loving being I've ever known was taken from me that night, and there has been no recourse for the owner of the other dog.
The entire attack was caught on camera and the identity of the dog owner has been confirmed. I have had multiple people come forward since the attack who have seen the owner not having control of their aggressive dog. This showcases that the owner knew their dog was aggressive but did not take the precautionary measures that were obviously needed, resulting in Arlo's death. When I contacted the NY Department of Health to inquire about a Dangerous Dog Hearing they stated since it was not a dog-on-human attack they would not allot me a hearing. This means the dog can continue to attack and kill other dogs without the owner being held accountable for training the dog or muzzling the dog when in public places. Other dogs lives are at stake, and who's to say that next time it won’t be a small child?
The information I found online in regards to NY Law and who is entitled to a "dangerous dog" hearing did not coincide with what the Department of Health has been telling me.
According to NY Law:
Determination of a dangerous dog (167;17-345)
A dangerous dog is defined as -
1. Any dog that when unprovoked, approaches or menaces any person in a dangerous or terrorizing manner upon the streets, sidewalks or any public grounds or places.
2. Any dog with a known propensity, tendency or disposition to attack when unprovoked.
3. Any dog which bites, inflicts injury, assaults or otherwise attacks a human being OR domestic animal without provocation on public or private property.
Who can be granted a dangerous dog hearing:
§ 123. Dangerous dogs.
-Any person who witnesses an attack or threatened attack, or in the case of a minor, an adult acting on behalf of such minor, may, and any dog control officer or police officer as provided in subdivision one of this section shall, make a complaint under oath or affirmation to any municipal judge or justice of such attack or threatened attack. Thereupon, the judge or justice shall immediately determine if there is probable cause to believe the dog is a dangerous dog and, if so, shall issue an order to any dog control officer, peace officer, acting pursuant to his or her special duties, or police officer directing such officer to immediately seize such dog and hold the same pending judicial determination as provided in this section. Whether or not the judge or justice finds there is probable cause for such seizure, he or she shall, within five days and upon written notice of not less than two days to the owner of the dog, hold a hearing on the complaint. The petitioner shall have the burden at such hearing to prove the dog is a “dangerous dog” by clear and convincing evidence. If satisfied that the dog is a dangerous dog, the judge or justice shall then order neutering or spaying of the dog, microchipping of the dog and one or more of the following as deemed appropriate under the circumstances and as deemed necessary for the protection of the public:
(a) evaluation of the dog by a certified applied behaviorist, a board certified veterinary behaviorist, or another recognized expert in the field and completion of training or other treatment as deemed appropriate by such expert. The owner of the dog shall be responsible for all costs associated with evaluations and training ordered under this section;
(b) secure, humane confinement of the dog for a period of time and in a manner deemed appropriate by the court but in all instances in a manner designed to: (1) prevent escape of the dog, (2) protect the public from unauthorized contact with the dog, and (3) to protect the dog from the elements pursuant to section three hundred fifty-three-b of this chapter. Such confinement shall not include lengthy periods of tying or chaining;
(c) restraint of the dog on a leash by an adult of at least twenty-one years of age whenever the dog is on public premises;
(d) muzzling the dog whenever it is on public premises in a manner that will prevent it from biting any person or animal, but that shall not injure the dog or interfere with its vision or respiration; or
(e) maintenance of a liability insurance policy in an amount determined by the court, but in no event in excess of one hundred thousand dollars for personal injury or death resulting from an attack by such dangerous dog.
According to NY Law, I meet the requirements to be granted a dangerous dog hearing which is why I am petitioning the NY Department of Health. Not only would this bring justice to Arlo, it would help keep other dogs in the neighborhood and in New York safe. I am not seeking to have the attack dog euthanized as I believe it is the owners that should be held responsible. A civil suit will not enforce what I believe is necessary, such as obedience training and muzzling, and possibly having the dog taken away from it's incompetent owners. It is my hope that this petition can help birth "Arlo's Law," so that others who find themselves in a similar situation will be allotted a hearing without difficulty.
A major component of pet ownership is the responsibility to provide not only food, shelter and companionship, but training and education so that the dog, just like a child, learns appropriate behavior.
NY currently does not enforce dog owner accountability in unprovoked dog-on-dog attacks. Dogs can continually attack and kill other dogs without the owners being forced to attend obedience training, muzzling when in public spaces, neutering, or maintaining an insurance policy on their dog.
ARLO'S LAW aims to enforce that victims of such incidents be granted a Dangerous Dog Hearing. It is only then that said rulings can be enforced and lives of other dogs can be protected. Dogs are family members and their lives and safety must be taken into consideration. Dogs cannot defend themselves, it is us who must act as their voice!
*Dogs are our first children. They are our best friends and most loyal and loving companions. They mourn our death as we mourn theirs. They deserve to be treated as more than just disposable pieces of property. Their lives and their safety must be considered for they are our family members. Dog owners need to be held responsible if their dog is involved in an unprovoked attack on another dog.
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