If you’ve been reading this blog semi-regularly you may remember that it was two Saturdays ago that I got busted by my daughter for spending the night at my boyfriend’s house.
This past Sunday I got busted again, but in a new and different way. A way that involved a Notice of Complaint, an actual yellow ticket, stuck on my front door as plain as day.
I have to admit that I knew I was in for some trouble before I pulled up and had a visual of the ticket, because I had just listened to a voicemail from my realtor.
Turns out, he got a call at 7:58 AM (yes, I’m absolutely sure I’m now his favorite client [if I wasn’t before]) from a County of San Diego Department of Animal Services officer. You see, his name and number are plastered on the For Sale sign in my front yard, so when no one answered the door the officer called him. (Not bad having my own answering service.)
The crazy who called the CSDDAS officer suggested that we had moved out and left the dog behind (I’ve many times admitted to not being a “dog person,” but come on! I just don’t think the new owners would want him, so I do plan on taking him when I go.)
Getting out of the car I’m wondering if my dog’s even still there. What if they’ve taken him away?
Turns out he’s fine, waiting for me like usual. It also turns out that CSDDAS officer #258 has a real concern that I’ve broken P.C. Sec. 597.1 (a) PERMITTING ANIMALS TO GO WITHOUT CARE. If so, the ticket explains, OFFENCES ARE PUNISHIBLE BY IMPRISONMENT IN THE COUNTY JAIL AND/OR A FINE.
Great! (Although I actually do need somewhere to live.)
The remark field says I’m to call by the next day with times available to meet an officer.
Like an interview, I wonder?
Lord knows I felt like I was interviewing for some top-management position when I adopted my kittens from the same CSDDAS office.
I dutifully call their office right away to schedule my interview. They’re not open. I call the next morning. They’re not open on Mondays either. (wtf?) I listen to all of their menu options and try to leave a message, but it’s one of those inane systems that just keep dropping you back into the same loop, with no where to voice your concerns. There is the option of using their emergency line, but well, this just does not qualify.
I resort to email.
Tuesday I finally speak with someone. The CSDDAS officer tells me some interesting facts: a neighbor did call (and used the emergency line!!) because they were concerned the dog had been abandoned; an officer had been out and had seen the dog, his water, food, and outside bed area, all contained within the fenced backyard.
Okay, good, we’re done, right? Because that all sounds in order to me.
But, alas, no.
“Your dog does not have any place to take shelter,” says the officer somewhat accusingly.
“Well, there’s the house.” I reply. “And if he’s outside he can ‘take shelter’ under the cover of the ridiculously big roof overhang.”
“But what if it rains?” She replies.
“The roof overhang, as I mentioned. He doesn’t get wet.”
“But what if the rain is coming down hard, on a slant?” She retorts.
Is she serious??? The dog lives in San Diego, for Christ sakes, where we enjoy an average daily temperature of 70.5 degrees Fahrenheit (21.4 degrees Celsius). He has a whole big yard to himself. He has never gone hungry a day in his life, and he gets to hang out and sleep in the sun all day while I go hustle up money for kibble.
“The dog needs to have access to a shelter with three sides and a roof and a door,” she explains.
“So dog houses are law?” I wonder out loud.
Yes, it turns out they are. Alternatively, you can have a dog door into the house. If you have neither of these, the law (here anyway) says your dog needs to stay inside all day. I mean, what if the dog is outside and gets wet?!?! What then?
But this woman is very serious, and informs me that an officer will be out the next day, between 5 and 7 pm, to meet with me and make sure these requirements are met. If not, I will get some type of citation. (Finally, I have my interview time!)
I’m actually a bit uncomfortable at this point because I don’t have a license for the dog and I’ve pissed this woman off, and this is obviously not only her job, but her passion. I back off and explain that there actually is a dog door into the garage (which qualifies as shelter), but that it's been closed because we had skunks and other wild critters visiting in the middle of the night.
She is happy to hear this. (Yes, what does she care if my home smells like skunk spray -- at least the dog won't get wet.)
We hang up. I brighten. I realize that I can actually get some photos of the officer and her truck and can try to be more like Ellie and include them in my post. It will be worthwhile. And I will be nice. Very nice. My kids will be proud. (Hey, they can even get in some photos!)
So I bust my ass to make it home by 5 pm on Wednesday to charm the officer. But a familiar ticket is sticking on the front door. “Sorry I missed you,” is the first line in the remark field. Reading further it says I’ve been cleared. I passed without the interview.
Even though there are no cute photos, I’m relieved. I don’t like to be in trouble. Additionally, now I don't have to be nice during a situation that borders on the absurd.
Because honestly, I’m baffled and confused and uneasy about the whole experience. Isn’t the whole system completely ridiculous? When, I ask you, did dogs become so spoiled? Their “proper care” so codified? When did we as a society decide that we should spend so much money making sure that neighborhood dogs remain dry, when there are people (lots of them!!!) living on our streets?
Who looks out for the wet humans? Who makes sure that they have food, water, proper shelter, and up-to-date vaccines? Who? Well we all know who, don’t we? No one. No one does. Instead they get hassled by the police, treated like dogs (uh, no, scratch that), treated like trash, and eat out of dumpsters.
In my next life maybe I want to come back as a dog...... (but not in Mexico)