Letters

Letters 10-27-2014

Paging Doctor Dan: The doctor’s promise to repeal Obamacare reminds me of the frantic restaurant owner hurrying to install an exhaust fan after the kitchen burns down. He voted 51 times to replace the ACA law; a colossal waste of money and time. It’s here to stay and he has nothing to replace it.

Evolution Is Real Science: Breathtaking inanity. That was the term used by Judge John Jones III in his elegant evisceration of creationist arguments attempting to equate it to evolutionary theory in his landmark Kitzmiller vs. Dover Board of Education decision in 2005.

U.S. No Global Police: Steven Tuttle in the October 13 issue is correct: our military, under the leadership of the President (not the Congress) is charged with protecting the country, its citizens, and its borders. It is not charged with  performing military missions in other places in the world just because they have something we want (oil), or we don’t like their form of government, or we want to force them to live by the UN or our rules.

Graffiti: Art Or Vandalism?: I walk the [Grand Traverse] Commons frequently and sometimes I include the loop up to the cistern just to go and see how the art on the cistern has evolved. Granted there is the occasional gross image or word but generally there is a flurry of color.

NMEAC Snubbed: Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) is the Grand Traverse region’s oldest grassroots environmental advocacy organization. Preserving the environment through citizen action and education is our mission.

Vote, Everyone: Election Day on November 4 is fast approaching, and now is the time to make a commitment to vote. You may be getting sick of the political ads on TV, but instead, be grateful that you live in a free country with open elections. Take the time to learn about the candidates by contacting your county parties and doing research.

Do Fluoride Research: Hydrofluorosilicic acid, H2SiF6, is a byproduct from the production of fertilizer. This liquid, not environmentally safe, is scrubbed from the chimney of the fertilizer plant, put into containers, and shipped. Now it is a ‘product’ added to the public drinking water.

Meet The Homeless: As someone who volunteers for a Traverse City organization that works with homeless people, I am appalled at what is happening at the meetings regarding the homeless shelter. The people fighting this shelter need to get to know some homeless families. They have the wrong idea about who the homeless are.

Home · Articles · News · Random Thoughts · The death of Jake
. . . .

The death of Jake

Robert Downes - November 23rd, 2009
The Death of Jake
There’s a lot of pain and emotion in Bart Arrigo’s voice as he tells the story of the court-ordered destruction of his pet dog, Jake.
“The officials of Kalkaska County had no care or remorse -- they destroyed a wonderful animal... an injustice was done,” he says, echoing the sadness of anyone who’s ever lost a pet.
Jake, a 14-month-old Great Dane, made the mistake of biting a friend’s child in the face last August. Bart, who owns an excavating company in Kalkaska, had just returned from boating that day with his girlfriend and their neighbor friends. They were sitting around a fire, having a good time, when 10-year-old Cory was bitten on the cheek by Jake.
“I felt terrible,” Arrigo remembers. “We grabbed Cory and ran to the hospital. The whole thing was terrible for us and the boy.”
Indeed, Cory received 12 stitches, and since he’d been bitten once before, is now reportedly even more wary of being around dogs.
The story illustrates one of the unfortunate realities of pet ownership in America, in that dogs sometimes bite, and when they do, the law clashes with all of the emotions that are invested in the ownership of a pet. Nationwide, more than 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs in the United States each year, according to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s about two percent of the population.
Children account for more than half of all dog bites -- often because they are at eye level with a canine and are literally in its face.
Police were summoned to the hospital and they subsequently took Jake away to be quarantined for 10 days in Kalkaska’s animal shelter. “On the tenth day, they told me to turn myself in for having an unlicensed dog,” Arrigo says. “I told them that he was already licensed in Antrim County, but they said that didn’t matter because we were in Kalkaska.”
Arrigo was held in jail for four hours before being released on a personal recognizance bond. He then went to the courthouse to get his dog properly licensed for Kalkaska, only to be told that it wasn’t possible because Jake was already licensed in Antrim.
Go figure.
Arrigo is sorry that Cory was bitten, but relieved that the boy’s family are still friends. In fact, he says that Cory and his family testified in the subsequent hearing that they didn’t want to see Jake destroyed.
Arrigo believes that the dog bite was due to the fact that Jake had an ear infection and was also taking some medicine that may have altered his mood. When Cory brushed against his sore ear, Jake literally snapped.
Arrigo has owned four Great Danes through the years and calls them the “gentle giants” of the dog breeds. He lives on an 80-acre ranch outside Kalkaska where his pets have plenty of room to run and play. He also owns a three-year-old Great Dane named Tiny who weighs in at 140 lbs. Arrigo had planned to breed Jake, who was an exceptional merle harlequin example of the breed with a value of $1,200. Jake’s pups would have fetched $800 to $1,000 each.
Arrigo fought hard to keep Jake from being destroyed. He hired attorney Jim Hunt from Traverse City and saw to it that the case went to trial in the county’s 87th District Court. He sought the testimony of expert witness, Pam Johnson, who spent 17 years training dogs in the Marine Corps. Her recommendation was that Jake be neutered -- something Arrigo says he planned to do after breeding the dog.
But the court ruled that Jake had to be destroyed, with the caveat that Arrigo could appeal the decision, provided he could come up with a $5,000 stay-of-execution bond -- in cash.
Arrigo thought the cash bond seemed improper and unusual, but set about arranging the money. He was under the impression that animal control officer Chuck Hill would be busy with a training project through the end of the week, and that there was still time to save Jake. But Arrigo turned up with the cash bond at the end of the third week in October, only to find that Jake had been put down by lethal injection the day before.
“They went and destroyed my dog without giving me a chance to prove he wasn’t a bad dog,” Arrigo says. “They just hurried up and killed him and got rid of the body. It was handled unprofessionally because they didn’t want to give Jake a chance.”
Why unprofessional?
“They thought that financially they would stop me,” Arrigo says. He believes that when county officials realized he was going to produce the cash bond, they rushed Jake’s destruction.
Even if he couldn’t save his dog, Arrigo wanted to be with Jake at the end of his life. “I wanted to be there with him at the end, and I wanted his body to bury on my ranch.”
From the county’s perspective, assistant prosecutor Bryan Beach notes that both parties had a full hearing in a case that went beyond the typical destruction of an animal. “This wasn’t just done on a whim. We take this very seriously,” he says.
“The boy now has a very large scar on his cheek,” Beach adds, noting that the court was swayed by “some fairly grisly photos” of the wound. “There was a fairly significant injury to the child’s face. After the hearing, the judge deemed that it was a dangerous animal.”
Even so, why couldn’t Bart Arrigo be with his dog at the end of Jake’s life?
“It isn’t a policy of the county to allow that,” Beach says. “It’s fairly obvious -- it could lead to an altercation having the pet’s owner there at its destruction. It’s going to be very sad for the owner.”

I wouldn‘t hazard to draw any conclusions in such a story, other than to point out the obvious: there are three viewpoints here in what is a fairly common occurrence in America: that of the parents and their child, the law, and the pet owner, in what tends to be an emotionally-charged issue. Perhaps you’ve stood in the same shoes as one of them. What do you think?

 
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