Saturday, February 04, 2006

Punting pooches

By now you've probably heard the story of the Anne Arundel County jogger who, after being nipped repeatedly on the ankles, reared back and punted the offending beast--a four pound poodle. Now, I really don't like poodles, but in this case, I'm obviously siding with the pooch.

Well, yesterday, because of a weird quirk in Maryland law that requires felony charges to be brought in all animal abuse cases involving a person who is not the animal's owner, the jogger got off.

"We felt that we shouldn't ruin his life over this," said Janice Tippett, the owner of Jacquelyn, the tiny toy poodle that she described as still unable to walk or eat without assistance. "When we realized the ramifications associated with a felony charge, we decided not to pursue that."
That was pretty nice of them, considering the injuries sustained by the dog require loads of extra caregiving (and probably money). Naturally, the jogger must be happy that he's not potentially looking at 3 years in jail.

Reached yesterday, the jogger said, "The whole experience has been really amazing." He declined to comment further. Police said the jogger cooperated with their investigation.

By "really amazing" do you think he means it's been amazing how forgiving the dog's owners have been? Or has it been amazing learning about the Maryland legal and criminal justice systems? Or it could be that he's just an ass, which is understandable considering that he kicked a four pound dog because it was disrupting his morning jog.

Criticizing Mr. Jogger, however, is not why I brought this up. For one thing, Janice Tippett is a Howard County business owner, so she's technically in my beat. But the main reason is this:
More than 100 people from Maine to Florida have sent get well wishes to Jacquelyn, Tippett said, adding that she hopes the publicity will bring about a change in Maryland's law.

...The state's attorney office has received more than 60 e-mails about the dog, Weathersbee said.

Kristin Riggin, a spokeswoman for the state's attorney's office, said the poodle's plight has received more attention than cases of murdered or abused children.

"Are people sending checks to children who are abused?" Riggin said. "Are people sending money to foster care?"

Good questions. I'd say it depends. On what? Things we don't usually discuss here (or anywhere for that matter).


Anonymous said...

Maybe I'm harsh, but if I were Janice Tippett I would have pressed the charges. Anyone who can treat an innocent animal so viciously obviously has emotional problems and violent tendencies that need to be addressed. If he's willing to kick a 4-lb. poodle hard enough to paralyze it, for no reason (because, really, how hard could the damn thing have been biting him), then it doesn't seem a stretch to question how he would treat a human who gave him a real reason to get angry.

Anonymous said...

Maybe I'm harsh... but my immediate reaction to an unleashed dog rushing at me on public property would be to kick it away. I don't think I would stand calmly by and let it bite me. It defies all our self-preservation instincts to stand by and let a dog bite you. (And it doesn't matter how small it is... a bite hurts whether or not its a bite from a poodle or a Lab. i.e. Kicking is just as likely to be a result of self preservation as it is intent to do harm.

Anonymous said...

Not that this conversation really needs to be extended, but I must point out that that a small nudge or kick is one thing...nailing the dog hard enough for it to fly 10 feet is quite another.