- Jeremy Cohen
Putting Dogs in Jail Pending Appeal It’s Time to Bark Back
Animal control officers, court clerks and judges have wide discretion in this country when it comes to what to do with an alleged dangerous dog while his attorneys file an appeal. In most states an order to euthanize can be appealed through several layers of increasingly higher courts in each state. The appeals process can be lengthy and it is far too common to simply order the dog be held in a district’s kennel pending closure.
The problems are numerous when an alleged bad dog is jailed prior to the final outcome. In many localities the costs for kenneling are due from the loser in the case. Dog owners must decide if they are willing to risk, in some instances, nearly one hundred dollars a day to win back their dog. Local officials then have the power to price people out of exercising their constitutional rights to have a fair and impartial hearing or to appeal an order from a lower court.
A second problem arises when the owners are denied access to visit their dog. Many jailed dogs are kept in cages without being socialized with other boarded canines. They are not given the attention and contact they need and deserve because a fear factor sets in among the handlers. Another fear takes place too, kennel fright. This happens to dogs when they are separated from everyone and everything they had while others determine their fate. Dogs can become aggressive from the solitariness of waiting and often become a self-fulfilling prophecy by attacking a kennel employee. Once that happens owners tend to surrender and animal control tends to “win” their case by highlighting this behavior.
Lastly will the kennel owner and workers protect the health of your pet while it sits on what becomes death row pending the appeal. Some may violate their duty to care for the dog because they believe the hype surrounding the dog.
Perhaps “bail” could be set where the owner secures a bond against the dog biting again while waiting for the hearing. Or the owner could pledge immediate surrender if their dog bites while waiting. I have heard of allowing face time for the dog and owner.