It was during the recent hearing that I realised how important it is to me that the system works. I had to trust that the process would result in a positive outcome for my family and show the complainant up for what he is: A bombastic thug. It wasn’t easy to do this, to put so much trust in a system that is often reported as broken. There are so many stories of innocent animals and owners being wrongly accused and of the system failing them, breaking up families. There was no certainty that this would not be the case for me.
I was reassured in the weeks leading up to the hearing that everything would work out just fine by everyone that knows Oliver, even by officers involved with the case, but the spectre of doubt was hanging around. Paranoia set in with me starting to think that the officers reassuring me had ulterior motives; perhaps they wanted me underprepared to make their jobs easier.
The hearing itself would have been a farce if it wasn’t so potentially serious. The complainant tried to persuade the hearing officer that we were abusing Oliver; that it was cruel to keep a hunting dog cooped up in an apartment all day; that we’d done something to cause this dog to have a psychological break. Thanks to being a pair of obsessives, we had a stack of paperwork and references showing how well cared for Oliver is, and how much exercise he gets every day. Not to mention statements from experts regarding his personality.
The complainant (and I’m trying very hard to not refer to him with more unrefined language) really showed his hand when asked what he wanted the court to do. To give a little context, the previous two cases had centred on dogs attacking people and other dogs; biting and causing harm that required medical attention. In those cases, the complainants had asked for formal warnings, enforced training, and were clearly there to give the dog owners a wake-up call. In our case, we have someone claiming that our dog lunged at him (though he did say that Oliver was going to escalate to killing or maiming someone. Really). He didn’t claim injury, or that he was attacked, just lunged at.
When asked what he wanted, he said that Oliver should be registered as vicious and dangerous and taken away from us as we’d clearly caused this. Even now, four weeks later, even writing this down still makes me angry. At the time, I was fuming and upset and it took every ounce of control not to lose it completely.
Well this story is long enough already so I’ll wrap it up quickly: It was clear the hearing officer was not impressed with the complainant and since the hearing we voluntarily went to an animal behaviouralist just to be covered if this miserable git (oops) tries anything in the future.
I still don’t have the final result of the hearing, but I’m 100% sure it will be a positive result for Oliver.
Not that it matters: The blustering old bastard moved out. I guess the system does work.
Update: I just received the decision and it’s official: Oliver is not vicious or dangerous, and now he has the paperwork to prove it.