If you saw an animal in distress, what would you do? Statistically speaking, probably nothing. Most people fear getting involved in other people’s business because of a potential for retaliation. And then there is the litigious environment called the U.S. of A…
But one San Jose, Calif., resident decided the dog he saw was worth the risk.
Kirk Bertolet reported his neighbors for keeping their German Shepherd mix chained outside 24/7. The dog reportedly barks constantly. Bertolet believes the canine may be part Beagle because his bark has the ring of that familiar Beagle howl.
Frustration with what seemed like a slow and non-responsive attitude from San Jose Animal Care Center caused Bertolet to climb a ladder at the property fence line on Halloween and record the scene. He then uploaded it on YouTube and asked people to call San Jose Animal Control.
A concerned Care2 member brought the video to my attention and asked I write about it. Here it goes:
A call made to San Jose Animal Care Center earlier this week was returned by Julie St. Gregory, Media Coordinator. She confirmed a number of complaints were received as a result of the YouTube video. She also revealed the situation has been investigated.
She told me the dog appears in good health, has shelter provided outside in the form of a dog house, but is tethered to a very short chain. She also confirmed San Jose does have an anti-tethering ordinance, which can be seen on page 12 of this PDF file. She reported the dog was well nourished and was being provided food and water.
This is in direct opposition to what Bertolet claims he has observed.
In a conversation with Bertolet Tuesday morning, he detailed the three months he has lived directly behind the family who owns the dog. Bertolet said after listening to the constant barks and not getting a reply from Animal Control, he climbed a ladder to see what was happening.
He told me the dog was chained to a tree on a very short chain and was living in his own feces. He claims he saw no water or food and said he would lower a bucket of water for the dog to keep him hydrated.
Bertolet says he confronted the home owners about the dog’s condition and was told they did not feel they were doing anything wrong. He also stated multiple calls to San Jose Animal Control produced a response of “we are too busy to respond to this type of complaint right now.” And that was of concern to him.
In speaking with Bertolet today, he reports the dog is no longer chained and the owners are making changes to the pen area, which he estimates to measure about 5′ by 10′. He plans on monitoring the situation and video-documenting.
St. Gregory said she understands concern for a tethered dog but only wishes people would be as vigilant regarding cases of severe abuse and neglect. San Jose has a population of over one million and only 10 animal control officers. Compared to what the animal control officers routinely have to deal with, this particular case was not considered urgent, according to St. Gregory.
The dog owners were issued a citation and provided with education about not chaining the dog. They were given a week to comply and will be visited again for re-inspection. Bertolet reports today the dog is not being chained, but is still kept outside 24/7. He is also determined to see to it that the dog’s living conditions not revert back to chaining. He will continue to video-document as necessary.
Just like triage in an emergency room situation, prioritizing animal control complaints is standard practice. It sounds to me like this was the cause of the delay. The interesting thing is that with today’s technology — like uploading a video to YouTube — a concerned Canadian citizen can reach out to an east coast animal advocate about a dog living in San Jose, California. Isn’t technology grand?
NOTE: this is not a photo of the dog in question
Flickr: Elliot Moore