My World of Parkinsonian Delights

Trying to Keep it Legal — For Now

I just sent the following e-mail to my representative on the Howard County Council — who also happens to be the council chairperson.  We’ll see how responsive county government is.  Next stop, the TV stations and newspapers.

“Dear Ms. Watson:

My name is Bill Schmalfeldt.  I’m a 55-year old federal employee who lives at the (redacted), with my wife, Gail.  I work from home because my Parkinson’s disease has made travel difficult for me.

I’m writing to you today because I can’t seem to get any satisfaction from the Howard County Animal Control department, or our trailer park management, regarding a dangerous pit bull that lives across the street from us at Lot 76.

If you’ll bear with me, here’s a brief history.

In October 2005, our black border collie Raven was chained in our yard when a female pit bull owned by my neighbor in Lot 76 (I only know his first name, “Steve”) charged into our yard and began attacking Raven.  No damage was done this time.  I discussed the situation with the owner, who apologized profusely.  I told him if it happened again, then police would be involved.  He swore it would never happen again.  I informed trailer park management, and they said “We’ll send him a letter.”

On April 10, 2007, I was at work and Gail had Raven on her hand-held leash so she could “use the yard,” as we call it.  The same pit bull came charging into the yard and immediately began biting Raven’s legs and feet, drawing blood.  Gail managed to get Raven into the house and called Howard County Police, who responded to our property and took a report.  The officer said he would notify Animal Control, and advised us that shooting the dog would be illegal, “but if we had a shovel or something like that handy, that would be a perfectly legal thing to smack the dog with.”  I left messages for my neighbor that he never returned.  I notified trailer park management, and they said “We’ll send him a letter.”  Animal Control never contacted us.  But the neighbor did build a chain link pen to keep his dog confined.

On January 25, 2010, I had Raven outside on her hand-held leash.  Once again, like a bolt of lightning, the same pit bull charged into our yard and began biting Raven’s legs and feet, drawing blood.  I got Raven inside and my stepson and I faced down the pit bull, which looked for a moment like she was going to attack us, but then thought better of it and went trotting off.  A young neighbor girl who is associated, somehow, with the dog’s owner, gathered up the pit bull and put it inside the trailer at Lot 76.  The owner was not home.  I called Animal Control myself this time, but disconnected when I decided I wanted to make sure we were talking about the same pit bull.  (This trailer park has a bunch of them, despite the clearly stated rules in the lease – “No Pit Bulls.”)  The young girl apologized for “Angel” getting free – again – and said that she must have jumped out of the pen from a couch the owner had placed in there.  I agreed not to call the cops this time, but I told her, “The next time it happens, the dog is dead.  Trust me.”  Once again, I notified the trailer park management and was told, “We’ll send him a letter.”

On May 1, 2010, Gail had Raven in the yard on the hand-held leash.  A lady came out of our neighbor’s trailer in Lot 72 and asked permission to cross through our yard.  Raven began barking, as any dog would do to a stranger.  Then, again – from around the corner – the same pit bull attacked, biting Raven’s feet and once again drawing blood.  Gail got Raven back into the trailer and I called the police.  Then my stepson and I faced down the dog.  Again, the dog made moves like it was thinking about attacking us, then went trotting back to sit in its owner’s driveway.  Officer Stafford (Badge #5538) came out and took the report.  He said he would convey the info to his sergeant who would contact Animal Control, and we should expect a call before noon Monday, May 3. Then I called trailer park management, and was told (say it with me now), “We’ll send him a letter.” Animal Control did NOT call as Officer Stafford said they would.   After 1 p.m. Monday, I took matters into my own hands and called Animal Control.  The lady on the phone told me they had not received the report from the police, and they had not received a report about the 2007 incident.  I described the incident in detail, the lady took the information and connected me with the County Health Department.  The Health Department said I should put Raven on a 10-day home quarantine for rabies since she had been bitten by this other dog whose shot status is unknown.  Then I got a call back from the Animal Control department, and the lady asked when would be a good time on Tuesday to come out and take a look at Raven and to further investigate.  I told her I had an afternoon appointment, so she would need to have someone here before noon on Tuesday.  She assured me that would happen.  Well, it’s nearly 6 p.m., I went to my appointment and came home.  No Animal Control visit.  Not even a phone call.

Ms. Watson, I have done everything I can legally do to deal with this dangerous situation.  The trailer park is not interested in enforcing its own rules.  Hell, we had to contact county government to get them to plow the roads in here after the “Snowmageddon.”  And now, this makes the second time we’ve been told Animal Control will get involved – and the second time they’ve not done so.  This makes the 4th time this particular dog has attacked our dog, lawfully chained and handled in our own yard.

When this pit bull escapes again – and this pit bull WILL escape again – I only hope that the next victim of this vicious animal is not a small child.  Because if that happens, not only will it be a huge tragedy for the child’s family, it will become a HUGE liability for the county… because you’ve been told about it.

I am asking you to take whatever action you can to ensure that this dangerous dog is removed from this neighborhood and that this particular dog owner is not allowed to own another dangerous dog.  A dog this gentleman owned in 2004 (just a large mutt breed of some sort) got into our yard and engaged our elderly German shepherd in a fight which resulted in our dog having to be put down.

We have the right to live in a safe neighborhood, Ms. Watson.  I would appreciate whatever help you can bring to bear on this situation.”


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