Not in the above story is that when Bubba's guardians went to the pound this morning at 10:00 a.m. to retrieve him as agreed, the city tried to change the agreement reached last night by making them pay for Bubba's stay at the pound and the vet bill to treat him. Finally, after more than a two-hour delay, Bubba was on his way to freedom. However, in all fairness, the DoH should be commended for not insisting that Bubba's guardians admit guilt or accept a "dangerous dog" label for Bubba. Blogger suspects that this reflects the thoughtful stewardship of the new head of the DoH, Dr. Pierre Vigilance, a positive sign for the citizens of the District of Columbia for reasons that go way beyond simple dog-bites-dog cases.
In view of the above story, this site will be revised on Thursday morning to mobilize citizens to make certain that what happened to Bubba never happens in the nation's capital again. Please return to this site again. In the meantime, feel free to read the original postings, below.
Thank you for visiting this site and for your concern for Bubba and other dogs wrongly accused or unfairly sentenced to death under the District of Columbia's Dangerous Dog Act. Fortunately, there are plenty of concerned citizens, a number of members of the city council, and responsible public officials who are willing to work to improve our system of government.
Click here to go to the original posting on the incident involving Bubba.
FYI: Bubba's trial is expected to continue on Wednesday, April 30th. Here are some recent updates:
April 19th: Friday night, Nadine (Bubba's owner) went to the pound to visit Bubba, where she and Bubba were attacked by another dog that had somehow gotten loose from its cage there. A shelter employee had to kick the attacking dog in order to get him off Nadine, who was rush to the hospital for injuries. Bubba's wounds were never treated until John (Bubba's owners) went to the pound and asked that his dog be taken to the vet. John tried hard all weekend to get information from the pound about the attacking dog, but they gave him nothing.
April 21st: Bubba's trial got underway way today with an astonishing statement by Thomas Collier, attorney for the Department of Health, that Nadine let the other dog out of the cage and that it was Bubba that attacked Nadine here when she went to the pound to visit him on Friday night. Collier tried to offer this as evidence that this proved he was right about his assessment of Bubba and that the dog must be turned over to the city and destroyed because he is a threat to the public safety. Collier pulled out a sheath of papers that he called witness statements, but the judge refused to admit them into evidence. Bubba's attorney objected that they had been asking for papers all weekend and that no one would give them to them. Bubba's attorney said she knew what Mr. Collier was attempting to do and later in the trial offered a formal motion to deny admission of the event, regardless of what the truth of the matter was. (More on this below).
Later in the trial Mr. Collier made another astonishing revelation. In trying to discredit a dog training expert's testimony, Collier said he doubted that there was any such profession known as dog training. While Bubba's lawyer should have jumped on this right way and objected to counsel offering his own opinions on matters, there is a larger issue here. The fact that this statement came from the person responsible for the legal aspects of animal control in the D.C. government is quite preposterous, and this should be of concern to anyone with or without a dog in D.C. Mr. Collier also said that he did not believe that there was nay such thing as the proper protocol for walking one's dogs on the streets. This too is absolutely preposterous, especially coming from the people on the DoH responsible for animal control. (Mr. Collier also stated, when asked about why the proper papers were not delivered to Bubba's attorney over the week, that the government does not work weekends, the government is closed on weekends.)
Please read the next posting below for the original posting about the March 17th incident involving Bubba. In the meantime, here are Blogger's alternative interpretations as to why the government offered such a contradictory report on what happened on April 18th at the pound.
First, Mr. Collier acted in good faith when he offered his statement about what happened at the pound on April 18th, i.e., he actually believes that that is what happened.
Second, Mr. Collier believes that the judge might not allow that event into the hearing, but because he must win this case, offered it anyway so it would taint the judge's interpretation of all the evidence. (But if the recent incident is not allowed into the trial and Bubba does get off, I learned that the government said it intends to bring another case against Bubba for biting Nadine, but that might be more of a threat than a promise, for the below reasons.)
Third, given the possible law suit the city would faces if Bubba is not found to be a dangerous dog on the basis of the March 17th event, a very likely outcome in Blogger's mind, meaning that Bubba never should have been impounded in the first place, given the visibility it has gotten and will continue to get, the government knows that it must win this case. But the government also knows that it does not have a very high hurdle to cross to convict Bubba, a preponderance of the evidence and NOT beyond a reasonable doubt. Why not go for broker, would the reasoning the government would then use.
Fourth, the government knows that if Bubba's owners think that they government is so confident they can win this case (for reasons discussed above, i.e., "preponderance of the evidence"), they will probably agree to anything to get their dog back without taking the risk of the trial continuing. Therefore, by piling on the accusations, the pressure will be on Bubba's owners to accept whatever it is. This is what they did to Sidney's owner's last year. The government (i.e., Peggy Keller) held out until 5:00 p.m. the night before the trial was to resume, building up enormous anxiety in Sidney's owners who by 5:00 p.m. would have agreed to anything to get their dog back, and they did. Keller insisted that the government would agree to nothing less than Sidney's owners agreeing that Sidney was a dangerous dog and to get him out of town and that if he returned, he would be euthanized. Needless to say, by 5:00 p.m. of the night before the resumption of the trial, Sidney's owners were under such great duress, they did agree, and he was on his way back to NY by 6:30 that night. Look for something like this in Bubba's case. What normal person who loved his dog would not agree to this? (I'll tell you who, someone who wanted to call the government's bluff even if it mean their dog would be euthanized.) Obviously, by agreeing to saying that their dog is a dangerous dog, John and Nadine would be siging away any right to file a lawsuit against the city for improperly seziing their dog and for any of the events of April 18th, which is what the government wants. (We are talking about pros here, who have been down this road many times and know all the ropes. )
If indeed explanations 2-4 are correct, this is what we are up against in the District of Columbia, the nation's capitol. And this is why people who do not even know Bubba or his owners get involved to stop this. But we are up against an enormous bureaucracy with no one in the government asked to solve it.
Here is the original posting on Bubba.
The below report appeared on Channel 7 in Washington (DC) on Friday night, April 4th. Blogger has no connection to any of the parties involved in the incident and is publishing this blog in the interest of helping save Bubba and other dogs who might be needlessly harassed --- and probably killed --- by the city for simply being a dog. Based on what Blogger knows about Bubba's case and on what he observed during the incident of a dog named Sidney last summer (click here to read that story), it is clear that the city learned nothing from the Sidney incident and is determined to control animals in the city by killing them without regard to such things as due process, ethics, normal dog behavior, responsible dog ownership, acts of God (i.e., accidents), wise use of city resources, and common sense.
It is also clear to Blogger based on his experiences with other dogs prosecuted under the Dangerous Dog Act elsewhere, that the judicial process may not always work the way it is supposed to, mainly because judges rely on their own personal knowledge of dog behavior, which is often inadequate. For instance, read about the sad story of Lucy in Sunnyvale, California, last December. To be sure, there are some examples of fair judges, too. For instance, read about the dog Congo in New Jersey, who was just released from death row the day before Bubba's story broke after almost 9 months there. Sidney, too, had a fair judge, who quickly saw what was going on and that the case should never have been brought to him, but as long as there is the possibility of a judge like Lucy's, we citizens should not tolerate the abuse of authority and resources by the Department of Health.
Here's the Channel 7 report:
Couple Fights for Dog's Stay of Execution (Click on this title for actual report)
A couple in Southeast D.C. is fighting for a stay of execution for a loved one, fearing the District government could put their pet Labrador down.
"He's a happy, playful dog. He's our child right now." Bubba, a yellow English Lab, is like John Dorment and Nadine Isvarin's child. Now, they spend time at home grieving for him or comforting him at the animal shelter where he is impounded.
"He is a loving dog he is wonderful with children he has no history of violence." March 17th, a workman let Bubba out. He got into a fight with another dog, injuring it.
"We're not allowed to say anything." The woman walking the injured dog says the D.C. Health Department forbids her to talk about the incident. Dorment and Isvarin maintain the city has used strong arm tactics to obtain their dog. They also say health officials ignored their promise to keep Bubba locked in the backyard and never let him outside.
Meanwhile, the people charged with caring for Bubba at the animal shelter describe a typical yellow lab. "Bubba is a good doggy. I don't think they should put him down at all. No, not at all. He's a great dog."
It's rare for a dog deems dangerous in D.C. to ever come home again. "It, it, it's not possible. I... It can't happen."
Both parties in the case have retained lawyers. Meanwhile, neighbors say they are flooding the Health Department with testimonials to Bubba's disposition to hopefully help the owners get their dog released
See below for s Channel 7's story about the April 18th incident in the point when Bubba's owner Nadine was bitten by another dog at the pound.
Here are some additional facts Blogger learned from sources not parties to this incident:
1- Bubba is 2 years old, still a puppy really, with the exuberance typical to the breed at that age. He is neutered, friendly, and has never shown any aggression before.
2- Neither dog's owner witnessed the conflict between the dogs; the only witnesses were the dog walker responsible for the dog who was injured and the contractor who accidentally let Bubba out.
3- The contractor says that the dog walker kicked and screamed at Bubba when he approached the two dogs she was walking.
4- Bubba's owners initially complied fully with the terms of the original home quarantine, but then the DC-DoH (Department of Health) impounded Bubba without a through, balanced investigation and without Bubba 's owners being given any documentation of DoH's investigation. In fact, when Peggy Keller (at the Department of Health) agreed to the home quarantine, she never told Bubba's owners that she had already filed a request for a warrant to seize him. (These are the same tactics I have seen used by the Department of Health in other cases I have seen.) Despite their numerous requests, Bubba's owners were never provided copies of DoH's reports until media involvement.
5- Bubba's owners are willing to keep Bubba under home quarantine until he has had a fair and impartial hearing before a neutral judge or administrative agency, but the DoH has ignored this.
6- Before the media involvement in Bubba's case, his owners were allowed to visit him frequently and even take him out for walks to throw the ball for him at the pound. After the media involvement, Keller severely restricted Bubba's owners access to him.
7- Bubba's case has brought to light that something else that we have suspected, that many dogs involved in dog-bites-dog cases never see the inside of the courtroom for their day in court. Because of the tactics of the Department of Health, the owners are intimidated into turning the dogs over the city, and they are immediately euthanized (killed).
Comments: Blogger is not surprised to learn any of this as it is typical of the kind of performance and tactics employed by the Department of Health in similar instances. What people fail to realize is that the DoH Animal Control unit (staffed by 2 people) is not in the animal welfare business, but the animal control business. (There is no one in the DC government tasked with animal welfare concerns.) So when it comes to animal welfare matters, they are not exactly known to use principles of fairness and due process --- not to mention compassion --- in carrying out their animal control responsibilities. And dog-bites-dog cases like Bubba's usually do not make it this far unless some influential --- or vindictive --- person is pressuring the DoH behind the scenes. It would be interesting to see what the truth is here.
NOTE: The Washington Humane Society operates the DC Animal Control Shelter, where Bubba is kept, under a contract with the city. All policies are dictated by the Department of Health which has no jurisdiction over animal welfare matters, only animal control. It is in the interest of the Department of Health under their animal control policies to euthanize dogs as expeditiously as they can in the interest of public safety. The Humane Society, on the other had, incorporates its animal welfare aims in its work at the shelter, but in the final analysis, when it comes to animal control, the Humane Society has no influence over the city's Department of Health.
Here is the Channel 7 report on the incident at the pound when another dog got loose and bit Nadine when she was visiting Bubba.
The city health department wants Bubba, a yellow Labrador Retriever put down for biting another dog, but the dog's owner maintains the city is responsible for a serious injury to her and her beloved pet.
Nadine Isvarin showed up for the hearing to determine Bubba's fate hobbled, bandaged and praying for the health of her unborn baby.
According to Isvarin's attorney, workers at the pound where Bubba is confined failed to lock up a pit bull that Isvarin says, mauled her and her dog.
But a lawyer for the city stated Bubba actually bit her. He said Isvarin intentionally let the pit bull out so it could take the blame.
This had Isvarin and her husband rolling their eyes and hoping for a reprieve.
"Vindication; that our dog is not dangerous and that he gets to come home," said Bubba's owner John Dorment.
The hearing focused on the events of March 17th. All parties agree Bubba got out of his yard and into a fight with Rudy, a two year old shar-pei.
Rudy's owner declined to speak about the case.
The woman walking Rudy at the time testified she began screaming and kicking Bubba. Lara Walker says she kicked so hard she lost her shoe and fell back wards. She and the owner of Rudy testified Bubba's bite left the shar-pei severely injured and traumatized.
Now, a judge must decide whether Bubba is such a threat that he should never be allowed out of lock-up again.
"We're really hoping that the District of Columbia comes to their senses and they realize that Bubba is not dangerous," said Isvarin.
The judge is expected to rule in the next few days, whether or not to put Bubba to sleep.
Here are some of the people you might contact NOW (NOTE: If anyone experiences any problems with the contact information or links, it would be appreciated if you would kindly post a notice to that effect.)
The Administrative Law Judge who will conduct Bubba's hearing is Judge Scott A. Harvey. His contact information is: Office of Administrative Hearings, DC Office of Administrative Hearings, 825 North Capitol Street NE, Room 4150, Washington DC 20002-4210. (Fax to be published when known.)
Bubba's Hearing was initially held on April 21st and 22nd and is expected to continue on April 30th (noon) in room 5100 (Dorment v. District of Columbia) in room 5100 at 825 North Capitol street. It is open to the public, but space is limited.
From all we have heard, Judge Harvey is an extremely fair and competent judge. If you write to him, and we encourage you to do so, please be very polite, remembering that he had nothing to do with this case coming before him (also because he is a Deacon in his church, meaning he is in touch at least once a week with One Special Contact you may need yourself some time). But because (a) we could not find any Dangerous Dog cases he has handled; (b) we have seen firsthand the DoH's tactics in and out of court; and (c) we know from other cases that those same or similar tactics, if used here, even against a fair judge, could result in Bubba's death (click here to read about Lucy's case to see that) even if he is truly innocent even of being the dog that did the biting, it is extremely important that he hear from the public. Remember, it was an outpouring of thousands of letter to Federal Judge Henry E. Hudson from the public that spared the lives of all but one of Michael Vick's dogs.
Please write to Judge Harvey now. Judge Harvey is an extremely fair and competent judge. Please be very polite, remembering that he had nothing to do with this case coming before him. Remember, it was an outpouring of thousands of letter to Federal Judge Henry E. Hudson from the public that spared the lives of all but one of Michael Vick's dogs and the dog Congo in NJ last month, Sidney in DC last summer, Duke in NY last December, and so on. Judges need to hear from the community they represent. Please tell the judge about the chilling effect any adverse against Sidney will have on all dogs in the District of Columbia.
DC Mayor Adrian M. Fenty: Contact Information Fax: 202-727-0505; Call Center Phone: 727-1000; E-mail: email@example.com.
The DC City Council Members we believe have an interest in animal protection or related issues include: Jim Graham, Jack Evans, Mary Cheh, Carol Schwartz and Phil Mendelson. Please click here for the web site with the DC Council members' contact info.
The DC City Council member in whose district this unfortunate incident took place is Tommy Wells. Click here for his web site. City Council members do have some control over what the Department of Heath, which is responsible for animal control, does with respect to these things. For instance, in Sidney's case last summer, Blogger was told directly by a senior Department of Health official that due process was discarded because of the pressure being put on them by the city council member in whose district that unfortunate incident took place. Council member Wells e-mail is: firstname.lastname@example.org (You can read a letter sent to Council member Wells by clicking here.)
The Humane Society of Washington runs the DC animal control program as a contractor for and under the policies of the DC Government, reporting to the Department of Health. In any communication you have with the Humane Society, whatever their role in this case may have been, please acknowledge the otherwise great job that they do with a heartbreaking, thankless task under policies that are handed to them by DC, and with funding that is woefully inadequate. The executive director of the Humane Society is Ms. Lisa LaFontaine, who was just appointed to the position in October. Although she has only been in her job for a few months, she is known to be an effective advocate for animals, even though her job as head of the DC Shelter where Bubba is being kept is responsible for carrying out the policies and orders of the DC Government, even if those policies are fundamentally wrong. Please ask her to weigh in now on this matter because she will have to live with the consequences, including the terrible precedent that will be set in this case. Ms. LaFontaine's contact information is: Lisa LaFontaine, President and CEO, Washington Humane Society, 7319 Georgia Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20012, (202) 683-1829, e-mail: LLaFontaine@washhumane.org
The DC Department of Health (DoH) administers the city's programs regarding animals. The chief of the DoH's Animal Disease Prevention Department is Ms. Peggy Keller. Her office is responsible for all animal control matters. Please be polite in any communication you send to her as she too is only doing her job --- a thankless but important job at that --- and she is known to be reasonable and fair. She has too many bosses, too little funding, and a huge job. Her contact information is: Phone: 202-535-2188, Fax: 202-535-1359, e-mail: email@example.com
Click here for to view a letter that was sent to Peggy Keller.
The new director of the Department of Health (the 5th in 7 years) is Dr. Peirre Vigilance (firstname.lastname@example.org). (Click here for article on him in April 17th Washington Post). Although there is nothing he can do in Bubba's case because the matter has already been turned over to a judge, you might wish to write him and plead with him to fix the process in his Department regarding the treatment of animals (and their owners) accused under the Dangerous Dog Act. In particular, to the extent you believe what you have read here and in the Save Sidney blog, he should know that there is no deliberative process in place to screen the truly dangerous dog cases from frivolous common dog scuffles or that all it takes is a vindictive owner whose dog was bitten to scream "I want that dog called" or a city councilman to pressure the DoH to push a case onto a judge, cases that should have been disposed of in 15 minutes or settled in civil cases and not at public expense. He should also know that his department refuses to learn from their experiences or mistakes. He should also know that these matters are consuming much his department'sresources and reputation when there are far more serious issues he must contend with. Dr. Vigilance has impressed us as a reasonable person who will understand these things. He impresses us as being in the mold of the new heads of the DC schools and the police department who believe in teamwork with the public to resovle the city's pressing problems.
The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) is responsible for investigating allegations of fraud, waste and abuse of government resources, so in your communication with the IG, please focus on the egregious waste of resources that these dog-bites-dog cases are causing in a Department of Helath (DoH) that is in the city with the worst HIV/AIDS record in the country. Also focus on the failure on the part of the D0H to put into place improvements based on their experiences and the case law in this very area. The contact information for the Inspector General is: Honorable Charles J. Willoughby, DC Inspector General, Office of the Inspector General 717 14th Street, NW, Fifth Floor, Washington, DC 20005, Email: email@example.com, Phone: (202) 727-2540, Fax: (202) 727-9846
THANK YOU FOR HELPING BUBBA. PLEASE REMEMBER THAT BUBBA COULD BE YOUR DOG, AND PERHAPS IT WILL BE YOUR DOG THE NEXT TIME IF BUBBA IS NOT FREED NOW.
Bloggers are not connected in any way with this case or any of the individuals (including Bubba) in it. We are simply concerned individuals (attorneys and animal advocates) who, while concerned about the public's safety, are equally concerned about the harsh Dangerous Dog Acts that are sweeping the country--- and our governments' roles --- in condemning innocent dogs to death and their families to great tragedy simply because the dogs acted as dogs do. Because we are not connected to the cases, we are left to the public sources for our information. Thus, we may not always have the facts correct. So readers are urged to let us know if there is anything we write or publish that may not be correct. However, if you do comment in this way, please provide us with evidence of the correct facts.
Comments to this Blog are certainly welcome, although the purpose of the blog is to inform and suggest actions. However, if you do comment, please note that the comments- moderation feature is turned on. This is because this blog is a serious one and only intelligent, value-adding comments will be published, unless in Bloggers' opinion, other comments would serve to support one of our purposes here. Also, if you do not wish your comment to be published, please state that in your comment and your request will be respected.
This blog, by the way, is organized by the nature of the posting and not necessarily by the Date/Time stamp so the dates on the individual may not have any significance. Usually, when a lower posting gets updated, Blogger will post the date of the revision at the beginning of the posting, so if you see that a posting has been revised since you last visited it, you might wish to at least scan it for the new materials. Blogger may also point this out in the Read This First posting, if there is one at the top of the blog.
Thank you for visiting this blog and showing your concern for Bubba and all the other dogs wrongly condemned to death by bad laws, inadequate public officials and, in most cases, vindictive individuals.