Thursday, January 15, 2009

Why We Fight

Today, My wife and I celebrate the newest addition to our family:

Leena was just a few weeks pregnant with this little guy when she was bitten by unknown dogs, and then forced to take rabies shots to protect her life. Unfortunately, her pregnancy test a week before the first rabies shot gave a false negative, and we discovered her condition two days after we had the first shot administered.

Because we had no idea what sort of impact a rabies vaccine has on a six-week old fetus, we were appropriately panicked. Of course, once we went to the doctor and he did the appropriate background research with the CDC, we were put at ease. But the psychological damage of this alone was brutal.

(Note: I want to add on an aside that neither my wife nor I are part of the anti-vaccine pseudoscientific crap you see on television; in fact, as vice-president of Texas Citizens for Science, I actively advocate the use of science-based medicine over pseudoscientific woo any day. As far as I am concerned, the Center for Disease Control knows far more about vaccines that Jenny McCarthy.)

But what if my wife was not attacked while walking a dog? What if she was walking with a four-year-old child in tow? What if it was you or someone you know walking down a street in their own neighborhood that was attacked by some dog? How would you feel if the owner ran off before you could identify him/her? How would you feel knowing that dog had attacked someone else in the past, but the law provided you no protection and no consequence for the owner?

I have no problem with any person owning any sort of dog they want. But like a car, a gun, or even having a child, there is a tremendous amount of responsibility that comes with the privilege. If you want to own a pit bull, then so be it; but if it attacks someone, you must be responsible for the actions of an animal in your care. If you can't be responsible, then the law must provide penalties to deter such dangerous behavior.

It looks like we might be able to shine a bit of light on this story again due to a happy coincidence at the hospital today. An update will be coming soon with more details...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Pushing for Vicious Dog Law Changes

We have now settled our case with the Bad Dog Owner. That particular chapter of our lives is concluded.

We are now in the process of working to change the "vicious dog" laws in Austin. Under the current ordinance, unless a dog attacks someone three (documented) times, kills or permanently maims your dog, or sends someone to the hospital, the dog is not considered vicious. So, if you are attacked by a dog that, say, previously killed their neighbors dog, you are out of luck as far as the city of Austin and the state of Texas are concerned.

This is, quite frankly, utter crap. If I come at you with a knife or a gun and I injure you, chances are I will spend a considerable amount of time in jail. But if I release a 50-lb pit bull from a leash and it rips your hand open, you might get your medical expenses covered if you sue me, but there will be no penalty other than that.

Not only that, but if you are injured while trying to save your dog or another person from an attacking dog, it's your fault! That's right, under Texas law, this is considered "provoking" the animal.

There are already efforts underway to remove some of these ridiculous loopholes and begin enforcing penalties on the owners of dangerous animals. Until the owner is made to feel a penalty for irresponsibly handling an animal, then there will be no incentive to act responsibly.

The Austin City Council will be reviewing proposed changes to the law this fall. Leena and I intend to be a very public part of the debate on these changes. These inane laws are stacked against the victim; we hope to change this so that no one else ever has to feel victimized by the system as well as an irresponsible pet owner.

Please watch this space as we will update it with our efforts to change the laws here in Austin.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Vicious Dog Hearing Set

On July 10, there will be a hearing to determine whether or not the dogs in question will be labeled as "Vicious" dogs under the city ordinance. We will be making more public comments after the hearing.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Major News Update

We haven't posted recently because a lot of thing happened over the course of the last few days. But since we received so many inquiries, tips and good wishes, it is worth giving an update now that certain facts are known.

It began on Friday night where I treated my wife to a date at the Brackenridge ER for a three-hour wait to get her first (of five) rabies shots. A pretty expensive and lousy date night by any measure. Customer service and hospitality are not exactly top priority at Brack, and so I hope that no one else ever has to find out what it's like.

On Sunday morning, we found out Leena is pregnant. read that right! I can still hardly believe it myself.

We were almost in complete disbelief. And happy. And then quickly frightened. By our best measure, Leena is about four weeks pregnant. This means that she was pregnant at the time of the attack. We all know how stress is hugely detrimental to a baby's development, and Leena has been nothing but stress since the attack. It was more than a week before she slept through the night, and the fear that these animals were at large with an irresponsible owner behind them was weighing on her.

Now, we had an added problem: the rabies vaccine. The particular vaccine given to Leena was of the type (category C) that is not tested on pregnant humans nor pregnant animals. After consulting with the CDC, her doctors agreed that although it was probably safe for the child, no one can say for sure. If Leena was exposed to rabies, then she would have to take her next shot late Monday or early Tuesday. She most certainly did not want to put any more drugs into her body if she could avoid it. Pregnant women get touchy about putting untested drugs in them, as you might imagine.

We did find out that if we could prove that Leena was not exposed to rabies, she could stop taking the shots. But we needed definitive proof, or the consequences could be deadly for both mom and child.

On Monday, along with information from Crimestoppers and the tips we received, Animal Control began to pursue leads. In one particular case, the guy immediately lawyered up and refused to produce any hard information. A promising step in the right direction, but Leena was still worried sick over the idea of another rabies shot. This is a horrible choice for anyone to have to make and so we made our plea to the authorities.

We explained the urgency of the situation to the Animal Control, and they sprung right back into action on Tuesday. After being confronted with this new (and rather important information) about Leena's situation, the lawyer of our alleged bad owner produced a letter and copies of the vaccination records for the dogs, along with the legalese non-admission admission that "further searching for any other animals was unnecessary". Gotta love lawyers. I hope they can both sleep at night.


Leena did not have to take the remaining shots, and a great weight was lifted off us both. It would seem that our bad dog owner has been located, and not a moment too soon.

At this point, we're not prepared to say anything else because this story is not over.


We do want to thank everyone for their good wishes, their help, and the attention that was given to this story. To those who reposted this story, people who provided information to the authorities, our tipsters, the folks in the media (Alexis at KEYE, Carla at KXAN, Olga at KVUE, JB and Sandy, and Emily T at KLBJ) who got this story out to the community, the other bloggers who spread the word, a big thanks from us all. And of course, we owe a huge debt to those who provided the information that ultimately led to our bad owner, and not a moment too soon. Dorinda Pulliam and Chris R. at Town Lake Animal Center did a tremendous job and came through in a big way--you guys get hugs from us both!

Paul, Leena, and our Little Bun
(and Bailee and Fat Cat, too!)

Saturday, May 17, 2008

More leads

We've received a few more emails and calls with leads. It will take some time to sort out the useful information from the not-so-useful, but I think an anonymous tip we received today may cut through the Gordian knot, so to speak.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Rabies shots, Round 1

It is 1:30 am now, and Leena and I just got home from the ER at Brackenridge. This is the only place one can go to get the rabies vaccine. Just how much it will cost us remains to be determined. I can't wait for the bill on this one. I have no idea how much insurance will pick up, but the drugs alone list for just under $750. My diatribe on the cost of drugs and medical insurance will be reserved for another blog, and another time.

Keep Those Tips Coming!

Some of you have posted tips to us, and we thank you. The reason those tips do not appear when you submit your comments is because all comments are moderated by me, and I do not want such tips to be published on the blog. But we do record and view all your comments, regardless of whether or not we approve them for public viewing.

Thank you for your support, and hopefully we can find this guy!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Rabies and the ticking clock

If we cannot find the owner by Saturday the 17th (10 days from the attack), then Leena will in all likelihood require rabies shots. This is both expensive and painful. If the dog owner were responsible enough to come forward and provide medical histories of his animals, this would, of course, be COMPLETELY unnecessary.

In a dog bite case, animals are usually quarantined for 10 days, because if they are still alive in that time, then they don't have rabies. Although the chances that Leena has rabies are extremely slim, it's quite dangerous. Rabies is almost always fatal if not treated, and detection in humans before it's too late is impossible.

This is the main thrust of the story on KVUE news. The video of the story can be found here. Thanks to Olga Campos and the KVUE team for running this story and helping try to find our missing dog owner.

Please help us save further pain and expense by finding the owner of these three dogs!

$1000 Reward for information

I'm reposting this so it's at the top of the blog roll, but it's the same information as before.

We are posting a $1000 cash reward for any information that will correctly identify the owner of these dogs and lead to his prosecution and get these animals off the street.

Our contact information is located in the right side panel, along with instructions on how to provide tips to us or make them anonymously.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

More media coverage: KXAN, KLBJ and 94.7FM

It would seem that posting this story on craigslist is paying off, despite the number of power tools out there who want to engage in a debate about dog breeds.

KXAN (the NBC affiliate in Austin) called today, came by the house for a taping and ran this story on Bailee and Leena on the 10 o'clock news just a few hours ago. Also, I taped an interview for the morning show on KLBJ 590 AM. It is running as a news piece on the morning updates. The more people who hear this story, read the posts and see the videos, the more likely we can encourage someone to come forward (I hope).

The KXAN piece is now on YouTube at this link, and can be seen here:

Leena is also doing a live interview this morning on the JB and Sandy morning show on 94.7