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Johnsonburg Police Dept / Animal Cruelty & obnoxioous behavior

1 Johnsonburg, PA, United States Review updated:

I am disabled along with my son. He has some pet dogs that he keeps inside mostly but they are never loose and chained when outside. Yesterday he was going out of town so he took the 2 smallest ones that normally are chained in the yard during the day[our town has a leash law & we havent a fence yet] since rain was forecast, he set them up in the laundry room with food water & newspaper in a corner of the cement pad, that if I couldnt get them out in time [ I have difficulty walking on stairs] that he would clean up after he came home.
Not the problem.
He was late for his appt in Detroit, so he and his brother left for over night and were in a hurry.
Normally when the dogs are in the basement, I call them up stairs in my hallway and take them outside via my front door. Inadvertently my son failed to lock the basement door with its latch and one of the dogs, wanting to go out, pawed at it til it opened and he slipped outside into t he yard. He pulled open a small bag of trash, only a few pieces as it was just a shopping bag with some containers in it.
A police car drove passed and noticed he was loose so he stopped. When he got out of his car, the dog, wagging his tail a mile a minute and totally unagressive as he is an attention starved love bug of a dog, ran towards the cop.
I hear a loud knock at the door and there stood the cop with the dog loose but now on my porch, so I let him in immediately and told the cop how shocked I was as the basement door must have gotten open somehow and I never heard a sound. I asked if he could look over to the side to see if the door was open as I couldnt imagine my son leaving the dog out when he left.
Although it would have only been one side step for the cop to peaK around the steps of my porch, he blatantly refused to look and tell me if the door was indeed open, so I being barefoot, began coming down one step at a time without my cane and looked around and pulled the door shut.
Not enough, this cop, unlike the other cops I have met in town that are nice, was beligerant and began saying he was going to serve me a citation for the dog being loose as they have problems in town with dogs running loose. I assured him this was accidental and that t he dog was on my property. He asked if I was responsible for the dog and I told him I was home with them but that the dog belongs to my son and he tends to it and had given it everything it needed before leaving, so that it would be ok til next day when he returns. All I had to do was give him water if he drank all of his.
The cop then began demanding the dog's license papers and I said my son had them and I had no idea where they were but that as soon as he returns he could show him as we had all the dogs licensed when we moved here last May.
Then after having put the dog into the bathroom as the cop came in my house, he began demanding the nature of my son going out of town and wanted his birthdate and other personal information and said my son was going to be cited. i asked him not to do so since this was only accidental that the dog got out and that it had stayed on my property.
It was then the cop told me that as soon as he began walking to the house that the dog went off the steps and ran towards him and that whenever he sees any dog, 'even if it is a chihuahua' he pepper sprays them!! While I can understand a person defending themself against an aggressive dog, I think it is inhumane and uncalled for to do such a thing to a friendly animal, on their own property, He claimed the dog had come down from the wall/steps[we have a retaining wall as we live on a hill] and that he sprayed the dog out of the yard, but I never saw the dog or him out of the yard. I believe he lied and just was being cruel and inhumane~!
Then with his belligerant and intimidating treatment of me, with threats of a citation coming today, that he was trying to cover his tracks for what he did.There was no reason to pepper spray this dog. Even injured from the spray, he was still friendly and listened to commands.
This cop saw and took an opportunity to abuse his position of authority and took advantage of this dog, under the excuse of what other people in town do with their dogs~ We live at the end of town and there are no neighbors on either side of us and I also own the lot across the street, so even IF the dog had crossed over he would have gone onto my other property [but he hadnt crossed over! he was in the yard]
The cop never identified himself, only he had a uniform on . My eyesight isnt that good, but I didnt notice his name badge if he had one on.
Now we are waiting to see if he comes back and if he files any papers against us as we want to file animal cruelty charges against him for using excessive force when it was not warranted.
Once I find out his name I want to file a complaint with the Police Chief and the Town Magistrate as well.

Johnsonburg Police Dept
Johnsonburg Police Dept

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  • He
      31st of Mar, 2012

    it is not the cops fault, if your dog had gotten in the street and caused an accident guess who would be in trouble for the damages? He pepper sprayed the dog because not everyone loves dogs and being a cop I am sure he has seen how nice dogs can become agressive. Next time your son needs to make sure his dog is secure, it is not the officer's fault, he was following the law

    -6 Votes
  • Ma
      31st of Mar, 2012

    And you know the dog never left the yard because...?

    0 Votes
  • Av
      1st of Apr, 2012

    Updatge: Dog's eyes & nose are better but the cop said he would call us today and didnt.I suppose now I will have to wait til a citation comes probably in the mail before I can find out his name so i can register a formal complaint against him and let others know to beware of him. Most of my family is in law enforcement and agree that he hid behind the excuse of proceedure for a loose dog, however most agreed they would never pepper spray an obviously friendly dog wagging its tail when it was not being aggressive or threatening. The cop told me that the dog was wagging his tail and there was no barking. It was a normal thing for any dog on its property to want to check out anyone coming up towards the steps. Also it was ignorant of him to refuse to peak around the side of the steps where he was to see if the door under them was open. He had to have seen it coming up the first steps to the property as he had to pass them to come up the steps of the house.
    It was unnecessary and inappropriate for him to be intimidating and hostile towards me as I am older and disabled, so I too posed no threat to him and was polite the entire time as well as apologetic that the dog escaped through the basement door in the first place.
    The entire incident was only minutes long, no one was injured [except the dog] The dog did no harm and was not a runaway, it stayed right on the property. Regardless to other dog owners that may be careless, t hat has no bearing on how we are with our dogs and none of our dogs have ever bitten or attacked anyone.
    While the cop said that was a problem in town, should anything like that ever have happened like you see commercials on TV for dog bite victims, we also carry comprehensive family liability insurance, being responsible for our pets.
    I hope this cop is reprimanded and charged with animal cruelty and made to know he cant just pepper spray any dog, even a chihuahua like he said he would do [ even though ours wasnt a chihuahua, he used one as an example of how he would spray any loose animal]

    0 Votes
  • Av
      1st of Apr, 2012

    My living room is in the front of the house. I was sitting in my chair when the knock came at the door. There was no barking, no sounds of any sort of commotions. I was surprised to see a police man at my door and immediately opened it when he asked if this was my dog and saw him, so said yes its my son's dog but I had no idea how he was outside as my son had just left to go out of town and had walked, fed and watered all his dogs before leaving, instructing me to just check their water bowls and gave me his long retractable leash to use when letting the dogs out so I wouldnt have to go down the steps .
    The dog came right inside and as it was chilly I asked the cop if he had seen if the door below was open or if he could see to let me know if it was open, when he became instantly hostile and said that no he wasnt going to look to see if the door was open or not, that I had to do it. I then walked down the stairs [12 of them] without my cane, barefoot with both legs obviously swollen and noticeable as I have bad edema from CHF - ~!
    He was just plain belligerant and intimidating in his manner of speech being cold and impersonal, as I told him I would do it [as he basically ordered me to do] but struggled since my legs & feet hurt me~ and waited til I got down the steps and stgepped around the grass and then pulled the door shut again, saying that had to be how the dog got out, [that when my son locked it the catch might have been loose enough for the dog to paw at it to pull it open to get out. !]
    I began going back up the stairs with the cop following asking questions about my son, why was he going out of town, where was he going, when was he coming back, what was his purpose to be driving all the way to Detroit, where does he work, how does he support himself. He acted like my son was some sort of criminal and was giving me a third degree~!
    I said I would try to call my son on the phone and let him talk to him directly but he only wrote the number down and said he would call him tomorrow [which he didnt]
    As we talked I did let the cop come inside with me as my feet were cold being barefoot out on the steps.
    He asked how could my son afford to take an overnight trip to Detroit to see a show - which frankly was going beyond his scope of questions to ask, but I told him that my other son was paying the gas and that both were making a guest appearance to the show and were participating in it. [not that that had anything to do with why or how the dog got loose~!!This dog goes outside with my son every day in our yard, He never has gone near the steps nor left the property, never has run away. He only runs circles around my son [ or anyone who takes him out] The dog is a couch potato, normally watching TV . He does get excited when he sees anyone and wants to be pet and will lick you if you let him.We have this dog since birth and he has always been friendly.
    My son only chains or puts him on the runners IF he isn't going to stay outside with the dog and the weather is nice enough to leave the dog out a few hours.
    Like I said, we live at the very end or edge of town in a location anyone rarely walks passed.

    Its not like living in mid town surrounded by neighbors and stores with some monster of a dog running about terrorizing people and this big nice guy cop came and saved the day at risk of his own personal safety~!! He was just doing rounds and the turnaround in the road is just beyond us since we live at the end of town, that he just happened to pass the house and saw the dog out to the side of the steps with a small grocery bag & containers - perhaps 4 pieces of white paper trash in all, on our lawn, in our yard, that he noticed the dog looked loose so he stopped, approached & pepper sprayed the dog, before coming up the house steps and knocking on the door.

    If he was concerned initially, he could have beeped his car horn, had he felt it too scarey to come up the front steps to where the dog had the paper trash -- which was up over our retaining wall in our yard -- so thats why I dont believe the dog ever left the property since the cop said he saw the dog in the trash!!!
    The trash was between the front steps of the retaining wall on the grass BEFORE the steps to the house which are over the basement steps to the side facing the grass . The trash was less than 6 feet from the basement door where t he dog came out~ so it looks as though the dog stayed right in the space he was accustomed to going to when my son takes him out and not anywhere else.

    It wasnt until AFTER the cop said he had pepper sprayed him, that he said the dog was off the property when he sprayed him~~ sounding like he was backtracking, now knowing the dog wasnt normally let loose and was not aggressive at all... He knew he looked bad for being mean to a nice dog and that it was wrong for him to come up my steps into my yard to my dog to my trash and spray the dog.

    It was excessive force - plain and simple. The guy abused his power and authority. He was a bully. He nees to be held accountable just like anyone else~!

    0 Votes
  • Az
      1st of Apr, 2012

    ehh, I would maybe give you the benefit of a doubt if not for some of the other details you shared about your experience.

    I question whether it's reasonable or responsible to expect these animals to do their business on newspaper on a cement floor "in case you couldn't get them out in time." If he had to leave his dogs overnight, he should have made suitable arrangements with someone who could provide them with an appropriate level of care... a kennel, or a dog-sitter, perhaps? Someone who could make sure to get them outside when they need to go.

    It's not my intention to attack you, not at all, but I care deeply for animals and feel compelled to speak up on their behalf if such a situation presents itself. Animals are not property, they are not objects - they are living, sentient beings that deserve to be treated as such. The officer was doing what he felt he needed to do to protect his safety - he doesn't know you, your son, or his dogs - and I'm sure this law enforcement officer, like most others, has had his fair share of run-ins with aggressive animals.

    It saddens me that this innocent animal had to experience the discomfort of being pepper-sprayed. However, it is NOT the officer's fault - it was your son's, the caretaker of these animals, to make sure they were secure and taken care of in his absence. He failed to do so. He didn't make sure the basement door was latched, he didn't provide them with adequate supervision in his absence, and if anyone's at fault here, it's him.

    0 Votes
  • Av
      1st of Apr, 2012

    While I can agree with most of what you have said and its sounds fair for the most part, my son rarely goes anywhere and its just unfortunate that this had to happen only about an hour after he had left. He was back home today, as he was only going out overnight.
    while he did put down some newspaper for the dog in the basement, that was just a precaution, as the dog has and did come up the stairs and let me know when he needed to go back out again. He spent most of his time in the living room with me after the incident.
    We have 2 basement doors, each lock from the inside, the one he got open has a drop bar latch as well as a hook and eye. it was the hook and eye that hadnt been secured. The larger drop latch was, but now its obvious he figured out how to paw at it and open it. He cant open the hook and eye. This was his first and last time for opening this door~!! He had never done it before, so while my son has now shown me and assured me that he had closed the doors before leaving, this dog knows how to push up the drop bar latch. While its secure for keeping the door locked from the outside, it moves easily from the inside.
    Now my son said he will use the hook and eye above it as the dog cant reach that to push open.

    This dog also is up for adoption since last summer. He's a great little dog but we have a few that we are keeping and have had him up for adoption since last summer.
    One person answered an ad & was supposed to come this week to adopt him, but hasnt come yet.
    We had him on a waiting list with the SPCA to be adopted since last summer.
    He is great with anyone, kids and was good when I had my cat here too.
    He needs a forever home. When he was born he was promised out but the person who was going to adopt him moved away and couldnt take him. We are hoping to find a good family home for him [but will keep him as long as it takes to find the right home for him to be sure he will be safe and well cared for].

    0 Votes
  • Th
      3rd of Apr, 2012

    "he is an attention starved love bug of a dog, "

    I don't doubt that. By your own words, you either lock them in the basement all day or chain them outside. That is not a good life for a dog. The fact that they want out of the basement so bad should be your first clue they aren't happy there. If you have any dogs that do not get walked everyday, given the proper amount of room to roam, and get the love and attention they need, consider putting all of your dogs up for adoption. Give them a chance at a good dog life.

    0 Votes
  • Sl
      20th of Jan, 2013

    I believe you. Cops can be rude and hostile for no reason. There was no reason to pepper spray your dog. He was just being a bully and cruel. Law enforcement should have basic animal understanding because they will at some point in their careers encounter dogs. He took his aggression out on your son's dog and you because he has a small penis or something.Making a complaint does little good. Cops stick together. After I witnessed my husband being roughed up and I made a complaint it.was dropped by the supervisor.

    0 Votes

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