Tuesday, May 26, 2009

5 Dogs In Danger, Not Dangerous Dogs

You may have read the news report or seen the story on TV - 5 dogs belonging to Mr. Whitmill bit a woman Friday morning in East Oak Cliff. Those 5 dogs were impounded by Dallas Animal Services and are awaiting a Dangerous Dog hearing. He still has 6 dogs—4adults (including one who’s very pregnant) and 2 five-month-old pups. On Sunday afternoon I went to visit Mr. Whitmill and the remaining dogs. These are dogs in danger—NOT dangerous dogs.

About the dogs: First, they are NOT pit bulls or pit mixes. They are Hound, Rhodesian Ridgeback and Heeler mixes. They are not emaciated, but are underweight and have patchy hair loss. Four dogs are chained; all have houses. There were lots of food bowls around and a trough filled with water.

Mr. Whitmill is a76-year-old widower living in a little house that’s badly in need of repair. He’s a very devout man of faith. When I told him we wanted to help him and his dogs, he said that God sent me to him. Does he care for hisdogs the way we care for ours or the way we want people to take care ofthem? No. But he does love them and is caring for them the best way he can. He’s not looking for handouts but doesn’t want his dogs to die. My heart went out to him.

About the situation: As usual, there’s a lot more to the story. Of course, I only got his side, but he told me that the woman who was bitten has stolen from him repeatedly, even though he’s given her money and even bailed her out of jail in the past. A friend who stayed at his house Thursday night saw the woman outside at 6 a.m. Friday morning. Even though Mr. Whitmill has “No Trespassing” and “Beware of Dogs” signs posted, and his gate was closed, chained and padlocked, the woman tried to enter his yard. She removed a board used to secure the gate and started waving it around, agitating the dogs inside the fenced front yard. Mr. Whitmill’s friend told her to leave, but the woman persisted, until the dogs—worked into a frenzy by her swinging the board—lunged at the fence and scaled it. Mr. Whitmill tried to get them off her and received several bites himself—not “scratches” as some reports said.

I’ve been thinking of how to best help these dogs and talked at length today. There are several issues: (1) The 6 dogs still at the house that must be S/N, vaccinated, taken off tethers and registered; (2) The very pregnant dog currently in the yard; (3) The 5 dogs that were impounded; (4) The fines and fees resulting from the citations that were or will be issued.

Mr. Whitmill has no money to pay fines or citations. He said DAS told him that it would cost $300 each to get his 5 impounded dogs back. Paying that is not a possibility for him. MAC can take care of the spaying/neutering (except for the very pregnant dog) and the rabies vaccinations. We can even pay the City registration. But that still leaves the fines.

Mr. Whitmill hopes that groups will come forward and take his dogs—all 11 of them, if the 5 in custody are released and not ordered destroyed.

I really believe that Mr. Whitmill is a good, decent, hard-working man—notone of those “irresponsible” pet owners that we see all too often. He’s old and poor and doing the best he can, and is caught in a situation that’stragic all around.

If you know of a group that could help with 1 or 2 of these dogs, or know someone who might be interested in adopting if we can find a group to take them, please email me at mailto:jonnieengland%40earthlink.net. Maybe together we can save these dogs.


Jonnie England
Director of Animal Advocacy and Communications
Metroplex Animal Coalitionhttp://www.metroplexanimalcoalition.org/
Stop Animal Cruelty...For Mercy's Sake.