By Michael Howell
The owner of a pit bull that was held in solitary confinement for about a year and slated for execution is glad to have his pet back, but he’s still fuming over the ordeal.
According to Paul Printz, the pit bull’s owner, his trained and trusted dog was pepper sprayed and arrested by a law officer in October of 2010 while standing her ground in her own yard. Printz was not at home at the time but he said a neighbor witnessed the dog’s arrest.
Printz believes that a hostile neighbor let his dog out of her fenced yard two days in a row. He said the first day a law officer responded to a complaint and placed the dog back in the fenced yard without leaving a message so Printz had no idea what had occurred. The following day the dog was out again when the officer stopped by to check. According to Printz, a neighbor saw the officer pull into the driveway at Printz’s Hamilton residence. The dog began growling and barking as the officer exited his vehicle. The officer then pepper sprayed the animal, captured her and took her to the animal shelter.
As Printz describes it, the dog was placed in solitary confinement, no bail was set, and no visits or observations were allowed. Printz claims that he went to the shelter every day anyway to deliver one of his freshly worn socks, some bones, some dog food and a treat.
The dog was initially impounded in October of 2010 and Printz was charged with allowing a dog to run at large and possessing a vicious dog. Printz had originally pleaded not guilty to both charges, but in May of 2011 when it went to Justice Court he pleaded guilty to having a dog at large but not to the vicious dog charge. As part of the sentence, Justice Jim Bailey ordered the dog to be destroyed. Printz appealed the conviction to District Court and in October of 2011 won the dog’s release.
District Judge James Haynes shot down the state’s reasoning that it could destroy the dog because it was allowed by ordinance to do so if a dog was convicted of running at large. Haynes found nothing in the ordinance supporting such a claim. The state also argued that it could destroy the dog simply as a condition of a criminal sentence. But Haynes ruled the state’s authority does not go that far. He struck down the death sentence and ordered the dog released.
But the ordeal was not quite over, according to Printz. When he went to pick up the dog he was ordered to pay a $15 per day fee for the animal’s keep while in jail. That came to a total of about $5,300. Although it was whittled down to $3,300 in a settlement agreement, the price still sticks in Printz’s craw.
Printz says he does not blame the Sheriff’s officer who arrested the dog.
“Who can blame them? They are young, following orders and just doing their job. But without proper training,” said Printz. He does suspect the Justice of the Peace was playing politics with him, however.
Printz obviously loves his dog and plans on keeping her with him all the time now, even taking her to work with him, to ensure she won’t face any more at large charges if someone should open the yard gate while he is gone.
“I’m aware that she did a great job under brutal conditions to obey her last command to ‘Stay!’ She is my heroine!” he said.
“I’m still contemplating how to address what I see as a serious injustice and I plan to do something to change the status quo. I’m not sure what,” he said. “I’ve witnessed much better justice, way faster, and way cheaper in the country of Iran where I spent seven years in the 70’s. In comparison, I’m flabbergasted!”