Back in February Goldie got attacked by another dog while we were on a walk. (It's a couple paragraphs down in the post...I buried the lead again). Today, FINALLY, I got some resolution.
Here's a brief summary for those too lazy to read the old post: Was walking Goldie. She got bitten by a dog, then the owners refused to give me their contact info. Instead, they screamed at me that it was my fault and ran away with their two children in tow. Goldie had a gash on her neck and got stitches to the tune of $356.
(Here's a link to a photo of her stitched up wound. It's kind of gross but I know some of you people are sick that way).
So. I wanted to make sure the people didn't get away with it. Decent people would have offered to pay for any damage their dog did, right?
Using my intrepid girl-reporter skills, I tracked the people down through the DMV by using their car license information. (I could have asked someone at the newspaper or my cousin the cop to do it for me, but that wouldn't have been ethical. See how I roll?)
Their car was registered at a P.O. box, but once I had their names, Zabasearch came through with a street address, but I didn't know if they still lived there.
One night I drove by the address and there it was: the black Jeep Grand Cherokee. HA! CAUGHT, suckas. You can't hide from the Internets!
The next day I went to the courthouse and filed small claims paperwork, including paying the extra $60 to have the sheriff serve them notice. According to the records, they got served at 7:30 a.m.
I got a huge kick out of that. The Von Loser Family was thinking they had skipped away after letting their dog attack mine and then, one day, as the sun rose...sheriff on the front porch. Oh, it is to laugh.
"No, Brittany, Hayden...don't worry. Mommy and Daddy just need to talk to the nice man in the uniform." Am I wrong for loving that so much? Ok, moving on.
The court date was set for June 2, 8:15 a.m. I was fairly confident the miscreants wouldn't show up and I would get my $356 in a summary judgement.
But no. The parents showed up along WITH the two kids. We were #14 on the docket, which isn't as bad as it sounds, because about nine of those cases were the City vs. People Who Do Not Pay Utility Bills Nor Show Up in Court, so it went by fairly quickly.
I sat in the front row of the four rows of seats in the courtroom gallery. The family Von Loser sat in the back, glaring at me.
I occupied my time juggling my twin Blackberries (one for work and one for home, because I am now So Flipping Important) and answering emails until my dear beloved friend CC showed up to drop off a magazine (the Cesar Millan Dog Whisperer mag - because she knew I didn't have anything to read.)
Finally our case was called about 10 a.m. Until about five minutes before we went up, I was just going to do a strict factual recitation like everyone else in court.
I'm not sure why everyone in small claims tells their side of the case with all the stiffness of a small-town police captain describing an incident on local news ("The indvidual approached the location and was apprehended shortly thereafter").
But not ME. It suddenly kicked in that I AM TOASTMASTER HEAR ME ROAR.
So I presented my tale with plenty of colorful detail and gestures, turning my hands into two tumbling, biting dogs. The judge loved it and the bailiff was smiling and nodding. I actually had a really good time. I would have made my fellow Toastmasters dang proud.
Then Mrs. Von Loser told her side. Our two stories matched each other exactly, except for the aftermath.
She lied. In court. Under oath. In front of her two kids.
She said she had comforted me and my dog and that she had carefully checked Goldie for damage, and THAT was why it was decided that I did not need her phone number. Also, that I was so busy talking on the phone to the police that I wouldn't take her number. Also that I overreacted and freaked out.
I stood there looking at her. I am sure you could have used a photo of my mouth to illustrate the dictonary entry for "agape."
She lied with such ease and calmness. Like she does it every day.
The judge asked me if I concurred. NOW I was furious and my throat was as dry as if I had a mouthful of saltines.
"She...she's LYING." I choked out. "She did NOT comfort me or my dog and she did NOT offer her phone number and I only got upset after both she and her husband screamed in my face that it was all my fault."
So then she lied some more. Said her dog was not vicious. That it was a yellow lab (it was mixed breed). That I had come barreling up to them aggressively and wouldn't move off the path (The fact is that I was ALL the way off the path because Goldie is an alpha girl and I don't let her get near dogs her size if I can help it. She doesn't bite but she does want to show who is boss and it is just better to not get leashes tangled).
Her big red-faced Von Loser husband who got eight inches from my face and screamed at the top of his lungs was now acting like a Boy Scout. "Oh yes, your honor, I understand your honor," with his hands folded in front of him.
The judge asked me to sum up and I said "I just wanted them to come here because I thought they needed to face their responsibilities and I thought by running away that they were setting a terrible example for their children and I'm surprised to see them continue that bad example by lying here in court."
Mr. Von Loser said he thought they WERE setting a good example for their kids by bringing them to court and showing them how it worked. Um, dude, you would not have had to come to court if you had done the right thing in the first place. Just sayin'.
The judge told us that he didn't know dog bite law well (he was a pro-tem rent-a-judge) and he couldn't make a judgment right then - that he would mail it to us. He warned that he thought that perhaps unless a dog was proven aggressive previously, the law forgave dog-on-dog bites when both dogs were on leashes. Their dog had gotten out of its collar, but he didn't seem to count that.
I got the judgment this morning online. The Judge awarded me half of Goldie's medical bills plus court costs. Fine. But it really wasn't about the money. In fact, if they ever send me what they owe me, I am going to donate it to Canine Adoption & Rescue League and send the Von Losers the receipt, just to show them that I was after justice, not their money.
I was there hoping that they might see the error of being the biggest jerks on the block. But no. And those kids. Those poor kids probably don't have a chance with parents like that.
I went over to my folks' house and thanked them sincerely for being good parents. Being raised by decent people is a pearl without price, and if it took this whole stupid thing to remind me of that once again, it was worth going through. (Maybe not for Goldie, poor dog. But she's fine, and she has my parents, too, and they let her sleep on the love seat and give her bacon occasionally, so all is good in dogland).