Laws are written for a purpose, to protect the rights and safety of the public. Some people do not care for a particular law and simply ignore it. A recent dog mauling death, the remarks of an attorney specializing in dog bite cases, and an Ohio woman who rescues pit bulls bring insight into the dangers of willful violation of law.
Celine Brotherton of Miami Township in Clermont County Ohio feels that the zoning laws in her community should not apply to her. She runs Our Gang Rescue, specializing in pit bulls, out of her tiny three bedroom home. Please watch the video, she has no fences or fenced dog runs and she has kept as many as 19 dogs inside her home, she is down to 13 dogs now, eight of them pit mixes. Miami Township zoning regulations limit dogs to no more than three per household.
Brotherton has said "For me, it's all about having the dogs in loving homes you know." She feels that the Township has no constitutional right to limit the number of dogs she may house. "It's just me and a three bedroom house. As long as the dogs are being taken care of what's the issue? They're not outside, they're not causing a nuisance." Not so much...
Township Zoning Administrator Lou Etheridge says it is all about the law, "It's not personal. It's the potential for harm and danger that's out there to the residents of the community, that's what we are concerned about." Mr. Etheridge was, sadly, proven 100% correct.
Another dog advocate, 23 year old Rebecca Carey of DeKalb County Georgia, rescued dogs too. Her specialty was vicious dogs. In addition to the dogs she placed, Ms. Carey kept five dogs in her home, two pit bulls, two Presa Canerios and a boxer mix. This is a lethal canine cocktail. Carey was killed by one, or more of the dogs. Her body was found by a friend, sent to check on her when when she failed to show up for work. The official cause of death was sharp lacerations to her neck and upper torso. Carey bled to death.
Neighbors of the victim stated that the dogs had sometimes been at large prior to Carey's death but "you could tell them to go back to their yard, they would go back." It must be kept in mind that Carey was only 23 years old, it is not likely that she owned a residence. Who owned that residence and did they know what she was keeping there? These dogs killed their owner, was the community aware of the danger posed by these dogs?
Attorney Ken Phillips, a specialist in dog bite cases had a great deal to say about the death of Rebecca Carey. His remarks also give insight into the Celene Brotherton's case.
Phillips recognizes that rescue dogs come with no history. "One must wonder why the dog was abandoned. Was there a reason why it was sent to the animal shelter? It is folly to assume that only bad people abandon their dogs. When a dog is violent toward people, good parents, good animal control officers, and good cops send the dog to the shelter. Not all abandoned dogs are good dogs."
I cannot say this better than Ken Phillips, I will simply quote him.
"As one of many rescuers who have been injured or killed by dogs in the recent past, Rebecca Carey has helped to prove two other points. One is that we need to enact restrictions on the number of dogs that can be kept at a residence.
There are laws that forbid people from having more than a certain number of dogs. Generally these are considered to be zoning restrictions but such laws also are safety laws. Not only for the safety of the person who has the urge to hoard animals, but also for the safety of friends and neighbors. It has been established that there is a pack instinct in dogs and that normally docile dogs can become aggressive toward humans when the dogs act in concert. For that reason, and to prevent a person from going out on the street with 5 leashes attached to 5 muscular dogs, I have urged the enactment of laws restricting the number of dogs that can be present at a residence, with the number being sharply reduced in the case of larger, more muscular dogs, including pit bulls, Presas, Rotties and the like.
The other point is that adoption and rescue groups need to be licensed.
I am hearing, almost daily, about unsuspecting people who adopt a dog, get attacked by the dog, and then learn that the adoption organization knew that the dog was violent toward people but did not provide a warning about the dog. People like Rebecca Carey -- I call them "humaniacs" -- do not recognize the dangers inherent in such dogs. For that reason, I am urging the enactment of laws that regulate adoption organizations, to the extent necessary to make all of them accountable and to prevent the humaniacs from recycling known dangerous dogs into communities."
The circular nature of this post returns to Celine Brotherton. She is hoping to get a job in Kentucky and move her rescue operation, and her dogs, across the state line. She thinks she is leaving the problem behind, but she takes it with her.