Dog Daze

On Sunday, Nov. 27, my life and that of my two daughters changed forever. We witnessed our family dog Benjamin being killed. Around 8 that morning, a fight started between two of my dogs, Capone and Ben. I screamed out for help, knowing it was more than I could handle alone. A man from about three houses down came to help me try to get Capone — the aggressor dog — to stop attacking Ben. I called the police, thinking they could assist me in separating them. Instead, that proved to be the cause of Ben’s demise. Police showed up around 8:15 a.m. The first officer who arrived was approaching my dogs as I was telling him that the red dog — Capone — was the aggressor. He reached for his gun and called his sergeant to get the “OK” to shoot. He then held up his Taser so that it emitted a clicking noise, but he didn’t fire the weapon. When the noise didn’t have any effect, he sprayed pepper-spray, but he was far away from the dogs and the wind was blowing, so of course it didn’t do a thing.

At this point, I was hysterical because I knew my baby Ben was suffering. More police started to show up, one by one, but they did nothing but stand on my neighbor’s porch and watch Benjamin get killed. It took an hour and a half for Capone to kill Ben, and any time I tried to leave my porch to help him I was threatened by police to be put in jail. At one point, the officer said, “Lady, this is what you get when you have these types of dogs!”

The police never asked me any questions or made a report. If the officers took the time they obviously had to ask me some questions, they would have known that Ben WAS NOT a pit bull — he was a purple-ribbon American Bully with parents and grandparents who were show champions and a price tag of $2,000. I almost hate that Ben was so big, because I know the police thought it was a fight, but it wasn’t: It was a massacre.

Benjamin was a docile animal and had many admirers. Hundreds of people in Jacksonville knew and loved Ben. Kids who walked by my house always wanted to pet Ben and he loved that so much. It didn’t stop with people. Ben loved all dogs and was very fond of my mother’s cat. He was scared of my aunt’s Chihuahua and miniature poodle. Ben had been to shows and mingled with other dogs; he had even been shown a few times. Ben went trick-or-treating with me and my kids every year and loved all the attention. Even with all the masks and kids running everywhere, he NEVER barked, or anything even close. I took Ben everywhere with me and he listened to what I said like he was a human.

I just can’t get over this. I’m sure that a lot of people who own a dog would agree that they are not just a pet, they are family. The loss of Ben’s presence in our home has been great. The night after all of this happened, my 3-year-old daughter woke up out of a deep sleep and said, “I want my Ben Ben.” My 8-year-old was crying in her sleep. I would really like for people to know that when this type of thing happens, sometimes there is more going on than the “pit bull” factor. The aggressive dog was my boy Capone, and several things contributed to the attack. Capone was always an Alpha dog, and when Ben came along, he took a backseat — and he knew that. Capone also had kidney stones and was suffering from them. I actually called the Animal Care and Protective Services a week prior to the attack in order to surrender Capone. I knew he was in pain and I could not afford the $3,000 surgery he needed. But the animal control officer never called me back. (Ironically, he was the one who came and picked him up after all this happened. When I said, “Hey, what’s your name? I called you and you didn’t call me back,” he didn’t want to talk to me anymore.)

All of this proved to be too much for Capone to handle. I had never seen him act this way and I have owned him for 12 years with NO incident. I know that the media portrays pit bulls (or anything that remotely resembles a pit bull) as vicious animals that can’t be controlled, but that is NOT the case. This was an accident and a horrible one.

Ben looked intimidating but was a teddy bear. The way that JSO handled this situation was shameful. I would have rather they killed both of the animals than see Ben suffer so badly for so long. I just want to ask them why. At one point, my neighbor witnessed them laughing and cutting up; how could they do that? What kind of people are these? This is who is supposed to protect me and my children? I really should have saved my dime and not called them. I am a 5-foot-tall woman with no weapon and I wasn’t afraid of them, but there were seven police officers, each with a 40-pound belt full of weapons, and not one of them was brave enough to save my Benny. Really? Why did they stay? Why didn’t they go sit in their cozy cars and write traffic tickets instead? Go do some real work instead of just standing around.

And they can’t claim it was to protect anyone, because when Capone finally killed Ben, they let him mosey right up on my porch where me and my kids were, and they asked me to keep him there. Also, some sicko was standing right over Ben with a camera taking pictures of him dead, and Capone was right there on the porch about 20 yards away.

This whole thing is just crazy to me. My family and friends are outraged, and I am sure I will be too, as soon as the sadness stage subsides. I literally feel like one of my children is gone; only a real dog lover would understand that.

I would like to see the JSO’s policy changed so that this doesn’t happen to another family. I’m sure that if it were two Labradors fighting, they would have stopped it, but they just acted like they were at a show. It’s sickening. I have thought about hiring an attorney. I would sleep better at night knowing that Ben’s death was not in vain. I would never sue for monetary gain, because money won’t bring my Ben back, but at least he could be the last one. But in reality, I know that no attorney would touch this case, and JSO will continue to do what they do, like they always have.

Anyone reading this: Please don’t blame the breed. These dogs cannot help how powerful they are and I never meant for this to happen. All advocates please continue to fight breed-specific legislation (BSL).

Sylvester and Nikki By

The Bynes live in Murray Hill.