A partner at Hunton & Williams, Terrence Connor, was arrested for pepper spraying his neighbor’s dogs. The dogs belong to University of Miami Student Andrea Lopez, who lives next door to Connor. (source)
Connor says that the dogs bark constantly and the police do nothing about the disturbance. He’s tried calling the police, tried spraying water on them, and now finally broke down and pepper sprayed them. The police responded by arresting him on misdemeanor charges of animal cruelty. (police report)
Naturally, most of the press and blogosphere is piling on Connor’s ass about this. I have his back though. (It was a bit assholish of him to play the “do you know who I am?” card though).
Have you ever lived next door to a yippy dog? How about two of the fucking things? Sure, I understand that it is not the dog’s fault that the owner is an irresponsible piece of shit who thinks there is nothing wrong with letting her dogs bark to the point that it annoys her neighbors. A certain percentage of dog owners are like that. If you dare to criticize them for failing to train their dogs, they take it like you just said that their children should be dragged out into the street and shot.
Hell, even PETA thinks you shouldn’t leave your animals in the yard unattended:
“We’ll watch for the outcome of this case but we’d like remind dog owners not to leave their pets unattended outdoors, even in a fenced yard. Keep animals indoors unless they are supervised at all times. Dogs are like small children.”(source)
If you screamed at the top of your lungs in your yard 50 times a day, the cops would eventually arrest you. If you were cranking music at the same sound and frequency of a dog’s bark, you’d get a ticket. But, in most police departments, barking dogs are not exactly a priority to them — despite the fact that having a yapping dog next door to you is hardly a “victimless crime.” See Barkingdogs.net.. Hell, even dogs don’t like the sound of other dogs barking all the time. (source)
There are methods for owners to deal with barking dogs. Training them might be nice. There are collars that administer a small shock (sorta like when you touch metal after scuffing the carpet), collars that spray out citronella (which dogs hate), or you can have the vocal cords cut. Yeah, you might not like some of those options, but I’m sure that this guy does’t like the fact that he has to live next to some self-absorbed fucking asshole who believes that she not only owns her own house, but the airspace of all the houses around her.
A Florida Court dealt with this very issue. Knecht v. Katz, 785 So. 2d 754 (Fla. 5th DCA 2001)
Appellees sought injunctive relieve in regard to appellants’ Great Pyrenees’ constant barking while it was permitted to remain outside appellants’ home. Appellees’ request was to enjoin appellants from maintaining the dog on their property “in such manner as to create noise sufficient to impair Plaintiffs’ peaceful and quiet enjoyment of their property.” Instead, the trial court gave appellants 30 days to remove the dog from their premises. We agree with appellants that the court went too far. In addition, it granted a remedy not sought by appellees. Appellees never complained that the dog disturbed them when it was within appellants’ home. Some barking must be expected from dogs. Before appellants can be judicially required to remove their dog from their premises, they should be given the opportunity to cure the problem which disturbed appellees. The dog should not be permitted to remain outdoors unattended so that continuous barking might disturb the neighbors. However, if keeping the dog indoors or bringing the dog indoors when it starts barking will cure the problem, the injunction should go no further.
So it isn’t as if there is no legal remedy. Of course, getting that remedy could take months or even years. In the meantime, Connor has to live next to this annoying yapping.
The fact is, all of this could have likely been avoided had the police ever simply issued a $100 citation to the dog owner. It is amazing how “I can’t do anything about it” turns into motivation to actually do something about it when money is at stake. Mr. Connor had a right to the quiet enjoyment of his home. Ms. Lopez is the instigator here. Maybe Connor shouldn’t have pepper sprayed the dogs. Maybe he should have used his law degree and filed for an injunction. But, perhaps a little non-toxic, non-permanent pepper spray on the precious little dogs would get the point across. Personally, I think that he should have fed them laxatives so they shit all over her house.
I hope that Mr. Connor not only beats the charges against him, but that he files suit and gets an injunction so that he can live peacefully.