BRIGHTON — The case of a dog named Dre -- who got loose and was impounded by police last week -- has received an outpouring of support from pit bull lovers and animal interest groups across the globe.
A Facebook page was made in attempt to champion the dog's case, and an online petition has garnered the support of more than 37,450 people as of press time, asking the dog to be released to its owners.
Brighton Police Department spokesman John Bradley said there are a few misperceptions about the case people have been getting through social media. He said people are under the impression that this is a case of a pit bull, when in fact it has nothing to do with the dog’s breed but rather the dog’s behavior. Bradley said the original incident involved two dogs -- Dre, a mixed breed dog, and Machomotto, a Doberman pincher -- got loose.
According to Bradley, animal control officers received a call about 11:30 a.m. July 25 from a woman who had just been chased into her home by an aggressive dog. As another animal control officer was in route to speak with the woman about the incident, another call was made to animal control where two trash truck drivers had been chased into the cabin of the truck by a dog barking, growling and snarling at their heels.
Bradley said when officers arrived on scene and found the dogs, they began approaching the dogs with treats. He said the Doberman approached the animal control officer, accepted the treats and was friendly. However the mixed-breed dog charged the animal control officer, bared its teeth, snarled, growled and exhibited aggressive behavior to her. Bradley said it took both animal control officers and several other officers to catch the dog, which was aggressively lunging at people and snapping at them.
“There has been a big fuss made about nobody has been injured and that’s true – there were no injuries, nobody was treated. But the lady who was chased into the house had the dog snarling and growling at her. It brushed the back of her leg just before she got away and left drool on her leg,” Bradley said. “This was not a dog that was standing 10 feet away and barking at somebody or standing 10 feet away and making a calm, don’t-come-any-closer growl.”
According to Bradley, the Doberman has been released to the owner as it is not a problem animal. He said unfortunately the situation developed and the decision was made that the mixed-breed dog had presented very strong aggressive tendencies and was a threat.
“We don’t wait for somebody to be hurt before we address a traffic issue, we don’t wait for a bomb to blow up before we address a bomb threat,” Bradley said. “When we see a threat to the public, we address it as quickly as we can to protect public safety.”
Dre is currently in the custody of the Brighton Police Department’s Animal Control Division and is being fed and cared for and that the owners are allowed to visit him, Bradley said. He will remain in quarantine until a decision is reached.
Dre’s owner, Mary O’Brien, declined to comment and referred us to her attorney at the Animal Law Center, LCC., Jennifer Edwards, who said the owner has been formally charged with two dogs at large and one vicious dog and believes this is a case of a dog who is being severely punished when it didn’t bite anyone and never has bitten anyone.
“Obviously there was some sort of issue that had happened — they were outside of the home… but I think keeping him impounded for this extent of time, and there’s some sort of talk about euthanasia and that sort of thing, that’s just completely unfair considering the circumstance.”
Edwards said she certainly doesn’t want this case tried in the media but that the family does need some support and that it’s good that the dog community is banding together to support the family. She also has her doubts about whether the dog is being treated well.
“I think that any circumstance where a dog is kept in an environment like that, I don’t think that they can be treated well,” she said. “We definitely have grave concerns about that and we want to get Dre out of there, even if we just can put him in an alternate location. We don’t want him in that shelter.”
She said the law firm’s immediate focus is just to represent the family and Dre as best as they can. She said they will be asking for another continuation and requesting a trial by jury.
Dre’s next hearing will be held at 8:30 a.m. Aug. 10 in Brighton Municipal Court.
The city of Brighton does not have an ordinance banning pit bulls. Brighton city council rejected the idea of a bit bull ban in 2008 based on advice from animal control and police department staff.