I am a very responsible pet owner. I currently have two small breed dogs, a 13-year-old toy Rat Terrier, and a nine-year-old tricolor Chihuahua. I walk my doggies every day but, for the most part, they are home bodies. Recently, a disgruntled neighbor called animal control and filed a ‘Citizens Complaint’ against me and my dogs. The charge is “dog at large.”
Never, ever has this been true. She charged that my six-pound Chihuahua bit her dogs. She owns two large breed Shepherds and a Golden Retriever puppy. As I stood with my pup shivering in my arms, I was forced to sign a fake complaint and told that I could pay a $250 fine or go to court (in three months) to fight it. Fight what? A complete lie. She didn’t go with the bite because she had zero proof so, she went for “dog at large.” She needs no pictures, no witnesses to the “attack,” and no bite marks. She can just charge me with a made-up lie and tie-up an incredible amount of my time. Since calling animal control, she now walks past my house and yells out crazy things.
– Mary, Las Vegas, Nevada
There are few things worse than fighting with your neighbor over pet issues. It’s also stressful to be served a complaint regarding your pets, especially if you feel you and your pets have done nothing wrong. You will have your day in court, however, and while an inconvenience for you, it will certainly provide you with an opportunity to tell your side of the story.
If you’re a good pet neighbor, enlist other neighbors on your block to testify or provide an affidavit on your behalf that reflects that viewpoint, like explaining how your dogs are always leashed and under your control when out in the neighborhood, etc. Having witnesses to your responsible pet parenting will go a long way towards defending this complaint.
Cathy M. Rosenthal is a longtime animal advocate, children’s author, syndicated pet columnist, and pet expert with more than 30 years in the animal welfare field. Send your pet questions, stories and tips to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal