Today I got advice from a paralegal (thanks, RC) and a lawyer (he was awesome).
The end result is that while I could definitely pursue legal action, it will likely cost me more than I’d ever get back – especially since I’ve no financial losses as a result of our neighbor’s letter.
It wouldn’t be hard to defend my character given the involvement I’ve had with several rescues in this area, my own rescue dogs and foster, and overall effort on the behalf of dogs/animals in general. But it does, in the end, come down to she said/she said without proof – on either of our side.
With the lawyer’s conversation in mind, I will continue searching for a civil remedy. I will continue to video tape her dogs barking as ongoing proof (of nuisance), I will contact the police regularly when the dogs continually bark, I will submit a complaint to our Property Owner’s Association (which has a clause about nuisance animals) and Code Enforcement (in due time).
If another letter surfaces in the same vein as this one, I will file for an “injunction relief” which is basically a civil restraining order for her to knock it off or further action will be taken. That’s, of course, when it will start to get expensive.
I also intend to have a discussion with my vet’s office to inform them that she is naming them – in writing – in a manner that implicates them as having said things they may not have. And when they find out they’ve just lost income for the welfare of my two dogs as a result.. who knows, maybe they’ll take action of their own.
I may even write a letter to the neighbor letting her know that I’m aware of the letter – since it’s apparently “been released into the wild” I am allowed to do that… and this:
I’ve been sitting on this for a few days. I’ve gone from shocked disbelief, to incredibly sad that someone would write these things…. and now I think I’m compelled to action.
But I have to tread carefully. After waiting, thinking and re-reading the email that was sent … I am contacting a lawyer.
I have no idea if it’s worth the money… slander/libel is so hard to prove and apparently most lawyers won’t take a “you pay us when you win” stance because even if you win the monetary gain is often far less than what it costs in legal fees to begin. But, I’ll call… ask questions. And then I’ll post the email and it will be very apparent why I am following this course of action.
“Actual malice” means that the person who made the statement knew it wasn’t true, or didn’t care whether it was true or not and was reckless with the truth…”
I was raised to call that LYING.
I regret using the word “stupid” in this video. I don’t know if they’re stupid, so scratch that from the record. I was tired. Irritated. I’d already tried to record the barking prior to going outside from our bedroom (to prove I don’t poke sticks at her dogs to “incite” them and set them off) and an iPhone is really just not the best way to record stuff.
So I’ve avoided posting for awhile since one of our community neighbors filed a complaint against the 10 Yapping Dogs owners (and they were cited but I’m not sure exactly what the details of that citation was, or what they had to do to become compliant — and they still have their dogs).
Either way, I decided to just let it ride. Winter was coming and I knew we wouldn’t hear much of them once the cold kicked in.
Cut to a month ago. Long story short: (possible) wolf-hybrid running loose in our neighborhood. Another neighbor’s dog was attacked (she survived), but we tried to get the word out that folks should not leave their little dogs/cats/children unattended.
Despite our history with 10 yappy dog neighbors, I decided to get in touch with them to let them know they shouldn’t leave their dogs out because of this (feral) dog. No matter how much I dislike their ownership habits, I don’t want to see ANY dog harmed when it can be avoided. I tried to be nice. I was polite. I explained I was trying to be helpful despite what she might think about me.
I got an earful about how I was costing her a lot of money because of this code enforcement citation. I told her I was never “out to get her” as she seems to think, we didn’t report her to code enforcement and I don’t care how many dogs she has, as long as she tends to them and doesn’t let them bark all the time. Call ended soon after but I actually thought we might have made a little ground on moving forward… (how wrong I was).
Weather is turning warmer. Dogs are back out again. Barking. But we haven’t done anything about it yet. Again, I’m trying to see if things will chill out and get better. And then I get a surprising email from a rescue group I’m working with. All it says is, “Call me”.
So, I call and nearly fall out of my chair.
Apparently they received correspondence from our neighbor “warning” them about me. Something about a bite (??). Something about me poking sticks at her dogs (!!!) which caused her to put up a 6 ft privacy fence and spending $3k for it… (?!?!?)
Fortunately this rescue group contact knows me better than that, but of course she has to do her due diligence and ask me about it. So, I’ve asked them to send me a copy of the correspondence so I can see just how far Yapping Dog owner’s libelous statements have gone.
Maybe it’s time WE got a lawyer – but I won’t have to make up LIES about the situation.
So to add to the madness, we found this on the fence today…
… I’m starting to feel like this is some sort of bizarre set up …
note: homeowners president said they told him they put it up because we were banging on their fence. (WTF?) I really would like to know when/how they got this idea.
Found out yesterday that someone else went to the code enforcement group about the 10 yapping dogs.
As a result, they came out and inspected… and served a citation. The word is that they have to get rid of all but 4 dogs or apply for a kennel registration – and with a kennel registration they have to jump through a slew of hoops… including drainage/piping that ties directly into our city sewage system. That can’t be a $imple fix…
I guess when you complain to the right people… they do the dirty work for you.
On one hand I feel bad that they might actually have to get rid of their dogs since all I really wanted was them to just take ownership and responsibility … train them, stay outside with them… control them.
On the other hand, if it helps.. it is what it is.
Also explains why Mr. Neighbor no longer waves at us when we pass on the street.
So it’s nearly a month and I have this to say: It is better… like getting stabbed in the brain once is better than getting stabbed twice.
They can still hear us. They still bark.
But it does seem better… perhaps a result of the sweltering weather and the dogs not being out very often.
There are fence posts along the length of our property (on their side).
I don’t know how it will work (the dogs will still hear us) – but we’ll see.
Maybe it will cut down on the noise if nothing else…