Amy B. Smoyer, PhD

Incarcerated Lives, Health & Social Work

Snitches get stitches

My neighbors keep their grey pit bull tied to a post in back of their yard.  May not be the life of luxury for Rover, but he seems happy enough.  His leash is long and the family is in their back yard a lot.  He is a quiet dog, doesn't bother anyone.

So earlier this week, I was surprised when I heard the dog start to bark in the middle of the night.  He barked and barked and barked for about a half hour.  I started to think something was wrong.  Maybe he got his leash tied around his neck.  Maybe the house was getting broken into.  Maybe someone was hurt and couldn't get up.  You know how dogs sometimes save their families from burning houses?  I thought maybe this was one of those moments.

I could have walked over there and knocked on the door, but it was 1:00 am and I didn't really want to confront an angry pit bull in the darkness of night.  So I called the New Haven Police, the non-emergency number, to be exact.  At our blockwatch meetings, the police are always encouraging us to call that number for whatever. See something, say something.

The police arrived quickly.  I met them outside my house and briefly reiterated my call which was really an attempt to help, not a complaint.  The barking, which at this point had gone on for nearly an hour, was irritating, but not keeping me awake.  I was awake anyways and can sleep through almost anything.

I left the police to their investigations and went back inside.  I heard some muffled talking, some doors shutting, and then it was quiet.  Quiet until my neighbor came out onto his porch and yelled in his very loudest voice "MOTHERF***ERS!"

OMG.  That's when I realized I had totally metiĆ³ la pata .  Big time.  My neighbor was mad and I was terrified.  Their house had clearly not been on fire.  What had happened?  Had the police removed the dog? Picked up a cousin with an outstanding warrant who happened to be on the couch? Issued a fine for animal endangerment?  I couldn't sleep all night, wracked with both guilt and fear that I would wake to find the F-word spray painted onto my garage.

First thing the next morning, I went over to their house and approached the family as they sat eating their breakfast on the back porch.  I introduced myself - something that I had never done in the four plus years that I have lived next door to them.  I told them that I had called the police the night before and apologized for any problems that I may have caused.  I explained that I had been trying to help.

And you know what?  They both smiled.  The man apologized for cursing into the night air.  Anonymous callers had reported him for animal abuse in the past and he thought this had been a similar complaint. We talked about their dog.  Apparently, Rover had been spooked by a skunk the night before and they hadn't heard the barking because they were watching TV inside with their A/C on.  We talked about the hot weather. We smiled some more and I went back home.

Guess it wasn't so bad I called the cops afterall.