Prejudice and Discrimination Causing Louisiana Dog and his Family to Suffer

 

by Denise Carey-Costa

In the summer of 2012, dog lovers and animal advocates around the world mourned the judicial murder of Tony, Wicca, and Lenox. All were Pit Bulls, all lived in different parts of the world.jack

In August 2015 people rejoiced when Lefty, another Pit Bull was returned to his family after a long, drawn out court trial. Now another case is unfolding in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and its similarity to the cases in 2012 is all too familiar. Another case of discrimination, lies and a modern day witch hunt.

It started on July 22, 2015 when Bonnie Blalock along with her partner Gina DePetro and their 11 year old daughter went out of town on a family vacation. Bonnie’s sister Penny and her son Julian were in charge of taking care of their three dogs; Mazzy a German Shepherd, Monster a West Highland/ Poodle mix and Jack a Boxer/Pit Bull mix.

On this particular day, Penny decided that on her way home from work she would come by and let the dogs out then leave them in the yard and send her son back over to let them back in. Unfortunately, her son decided to go to a movie before letting the dogs back in. Apparently, during the 2.5 hours the dogs were outside they managed to open the gate and let themselves out to run loose.

That would have been difficult to do as the gate has two locks. Bonnie and Gina have suspected their next door neighbor has let the dogs out in the past as she has been seen staring over the fence at the dogs and on one occasion she was seen pushing on the fence with a rake.

According to the neighbors Jack the Pit Bull mix bit the next door neighbor, but instead of going inside to call for help she just stayed outside flagging down other neighbors. One male passerby stopped to call animal control and when he approached Gina and Bonnie’s property Jack supposedly bit him as well.

When Animal Control Officer Saltz arrived on scene, he stated Jack and Monster were in the driveway. When he attempted to catch Jack, Jack barked at him and retreated into his own backyard. Jack was taken into custody by Animal Control and put into quarantine on a rabies watch and could not be picked up until Aug. 1, 2015. Bonnie and Gina questioned this as Jack was up to date on all of his vaccinations and was a blood donor for two animal hospitals. Animal Control stated this was because Jack had a previous bite case which was a falsehood as the previous case involved nothing more than Jack playing with a young child and the child sustaining a scratch.

When Bonnie and Gina went to retrieve Jack from the shelter on Aug. 1, 2015 they were told that Animal Control was trying to declare Jack a dangerous dog and he could not leave the shelter until that decision was made. A meeting was set with Hilton Cole, the Director of Animal Control as well as Officer Saltz, and Officer Bigger. There Jack’s history of passive behavior was presented with the following facts; he did not need to be sedated to donate blood, he was often used in ultrasound labs as well as in small animal clinic’s medicine rounds where the students would practice doing their physical exams on actual pets. Bonnie and Gina also explained the past trouble with the neighbor and that they believed there was a possibility she may have let the dogs out or in some way provoked Jack. They took their defense of Jack a step further by asking several veterinarians and technicians that knew Jack to email Hilton Cole regarding their own personal experiences with Jack.

Based on this new information, Director Cole asked Officer Saltz to speak with the victims again and then he would decide if he would declare Jack dangerous. While waiting for his decision Jack was forced to stay at the shelter for an additional 6 days. While he was there and after the rabies quarantine was over, Bonnie asked if the shelter could do a temperament test on Jack. The video as well as the report card would confirm and support the theory that something must have provoked Jack to the point of biting.

Despite their pleas and all of the evidence presented to Director Cole he still declared Jack dangerous. Bonnie and Gina had done everything they could to get Jack returned to them. They paid the fines, provided proof of proper insurance, had a new lock placed on their gate that allows only someone with a key to access their backyard, installed a runner, purchased a muzzle and the dangerous dog signs and tag. Jack was already micro chipped, and current on vaccines. Before Jack was allowed to return home Animal Control came out to their home to inspect the property on two separate occasions.

Finally on Aug. 7, 2015 after 16 days in the shelter Jack was finally able to come home. However Bonnie and Gina wanted to appeal the Dangerous Dog label that had been placed on Jack. They felt they had enough evidence to fight it with the temperament testing video as well as with written testimonials from the vets and vet techs. The appeal was scheduled for Aug. 18, 2015 at 10am.

When Bonnie and Gina showed up to the hearing they were given an unwelcome surprise when many of their neighbors showed up. People they had never even seen before in the five years that they had lived there. These people testified one after the other saying how scared they were of the dogs, how they had seen the dogs out on other occasions and that the dogs had run up to them and barked at them. However, not a single one of these neighbors had any evidence or proof to back their statements up. Animal Control was never called and no one had ever once approached Bonnie and Gina about their dogs. Many of these same neighbors while walking their own dogs would often stop to speak to Bonnie and Gina about various veterinary issues. At the hearing these same people spoke of Bonnie and Gina in derogatory terms calling them “just renters” and “different” based on their nontraditional lifestyle. The neighbor who started all the trouble went around saying Gina, Bonnie and their daughter were not a “real family.” So not only were the flames of prejudice being fanned toward Jack being a Pit Bull but also against Bonnie and Gina for their lifestyle, thus creating an environment of Homophobia. This was all instigated by the next door neighbor.

After all of the evidence was presented, Hilton Cole stood up and stated he was furious that Jack was given a temperament test after he had already deemed Jack dangerous and how dare Bonnie and Gina utilize his resources and his shelter to try and circumvent his decision. He vowed he would do everything in his power to have Jack declared vicious and removed from the neighborhood.

The committee upheld the dangerous dog declaration but Jack was allowed to go home. Bonnie and Gina thought this would be the end of it. But the nightmare was not over. On Tuesday Aug. 25, 2015 at 4:30pm Animal Control once again showed up at their home with papers stating that Jack had been upgraded to a vicious dog and that they had 24 hours to turn him back over to the shelter or warrants would be issued for their arrest. When they asked how this could happen as per the ordinance, a dog could only be upgraded from dangerous to vicious if another incident occurred involving that same dog. They had 10 days to appeal.

Bonnie and Gina immediately wrote a letter to appeal the vicious dog declaration, and brought Jack back to the shelter the next day fearing that if they didn’t they would be arrested. On Thursday when Bonnie went to visit Jack she found that he had 2 pad locks and a chain on his kennel, and was told that the shelter employees were instructed not to enter Jacks kennel nor walk him outside under any circumstances. Animal Control has placed overly excessive restraints on Jack for no reason other than the fact that Director Hilton Cole vowed to have Jack deemed vicious. This was an act of vindictiveness directed at Bonnie, Gina and their family.

Obviously this is something bigger than just a case of a dog running loose and allegedly biting someone. This is a case of those in authority wanting to wield their power against anyone who goes against them, a case of homophobic neighbors who are so quick to get on the bandwagon of false accusations, and the ignorant, back woods mentality of those who think Pit Bulls should be banned.

Meanwhile, Jack sits wasting away in a dungeon called an animal shelter not allowed to see the light of day and losing hope fast. If Bonnie and Gina lose the case for Jack, this loyal, gentle, loving, family dog will be euthanized.

The next court hearing for Jack is Monday Sept. 14, 2015 at 830 am at 222 St. Louis St. room 902, Baton Rouge, Louisiana. .

Please email the following authority figures on Jack’s behalf:

Mayor Kip Holden at mayor@brgov.com.

District 3 Council Chandler Loupe at Council-dist3@brgov.com.

Animal Control Director Hilton Cole at ACC@brgov.com.

Sign the petition at: http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/please-help-save-our.fb48?source=c.fb&r…

And help raise funds for legal costs and the $25 a day fee to house Jack at the shelter. http://www.gofundme.com/5u3vf8yk

For updates on Jack visit https://m.facebook.com/SaveOurJack. “

The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.” – Albert Einstein

This story has been reposted here from Examiner.com with the author’s permission.

Facebook
Google+
http://beckleylocalnews.com/prejudice-and-discrimination-causing-louisiana-dog-and-his-family-to-suffer/
Twitter
Pinterest
LinkedIn

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial