I am writing for two reasons. First, to thank the wonderful people of Chestertown and Kent County for their help and support during a recent upsetting experience. Second, to ask that we use what my wife and I have experienced to focus on the need for responsible handling of dangerous animals.
On the morning of Saturday, May 21, 2016, I took my two beagles, Daisy and Tessa, both beagles, for a walk. Our walk began down South College Avenue, toward Cannon Street. At a house just around the corner from my home on High Street, a woman came out of the front door of the house to get her mail. Right after that, a pit bull came out of her front door and headed toward my dogs and me.
The next thing I knew, the pit bull had viciously attacked my beagle Daisy, attaching its jaws to Daisy’s neck. I tried desperately to get the dog off. Every time I got the attacking dog’s jaws released it got away from me went right back to attacking Daisy. This was a brutal attack, completely unprovoked.
Finally, I got the attacking dog off of my dog under my control. However, in trying to contain the attack, I lost control of both of my dogs’ leashes and Daisy and Tessa ran away in opposite directions. Daisy returned to us the following Wednesday, roughed up but in remarkably good shape. Dr. Peck and the team at the Eastern Shore Animal Hospital played a critical role in Daisy’s recovery with surgery and fabulous care. Unfortunately, Tessa is still missing and I am afraid we have to assume now that she is gone for good.
As horrible as this was, my wife Lizzy and I were met with an amazing outpouring of generosity from the good people of Chestertown and the surrounding communities. Many friends dropped what they were doing to help us look for the dogs on a rainy day. Our Facebook post about the dogs went viral across Kent County, and people we did not even know helped search for our beagles. The Humane Society of Kent County did a social media outreach, as did Chestertown Runners. The Chestertown Spy posted a notice. Friends and neighbors took to the streets on foot, on bicycle, and by car.
Lizzy and I are truly grateful and extremely moved by the generosity that the good people of Chestertown. We cannot thank you enough.
But there is a tragedy in this that I hope we can work together to address. It’s not the injury and loss of our dogs, which is certainly sad and heartbreaking. Rather, the tragedy is that this whole event was utterly and completely avoidable. The dog that attacked my dogs had been deemed dangerous, and the Humane Society had imposed specific conditions on the owner to restrain the dog and maintain control of it. Nevertheless, the dog was able to get out of the house with no difficulty, with no muzzle or leash.
The law is clear on our obligations as dog owners. We are required to keep dogs under our control. If you let your dog run loose, you are responsible for any injuries that the dog causes. And if your dog is declared dangerous or potentially dangerous, then you are legally required to take extra precautions. If you own a dangerous dog and do not keep it under careful control, your dog can be euthanized and you are subject to criminal sanctions. The dog that attacked my dogs has been euthanized and the Kent County Animal Control officials are pursuing criminal sanctions against the dog’s owner. I think those are appropriate steps, and I hope county officials will continue to take these steps to address dangerous animals that are not properly maintained. I have asked the Humane Society to consider publishing a list of dangerous and potentially dangerous dogs and where they are located.
Thank you again to the many wonderful people of the community who helped us through this difficult experience. We are so grateful and cannot ever thank you enough.