For the love of Ruby
- by: Katie W
- recipient: The Honorable Brianne Buccicone, Tenth Judicial District, Sherburne County, MN
Katie couldn't stand by and watch this loving pup be abused by her neighbor. Now, years after rescuing the dog, Ruby has been sent back to her abuser, and he's trying to sue Katie for thousands of dollars. Sign her urgent petition and send the message that you shouldn't be allowed to profit from animal abuse!
My name is Katie Williams, I'm a 35 year old self-employed mother, girlfriend, homeowner and fur mama of 1 dog and 1 cat. I live in Elk River, MN and I live a pretty low-key, average family life. Almost 4 years ago, I found myself in a position of having to decide between right or wrong, legally and morally. A neighbor of mine had gotten a new puppy for the purpose of training her as a hunting dog, she's a chocolate Labrador named Ruby. Things started out fine, she seemed happy. We had a neighborly relationship with her owner and even looked after Ruby from time to time and played with her often.
As she got a little older and her hunting training progressed, I noted use of a shock collar that seemed a bit excessive for my taste. We had hunting dogs in my family growing up, but these methods were never used. As time went on, he seemed to get more and more angry with Ruby when she didn't perform the way he wanted her to. She would frequently run away from him and come directly to my home, and when she wouldn't come to him when asked, she'd be shocked many times over, hit and kicked. During her hunting training sessions, which we could hear from our home, she'd fail to complete her tasks and he'd repeatedly shock her over and over again. We'd hear her yelps from this frequently, almost daily. He told us on more than 1 occasion that when she didn't perform for her training session, he wouldn't feed her for 2 days. At some point during all of this, he stopped calling her by her given name, from then on she was referred to as "Dumbass". We could see her becoming more and more fearful of him.
There were a couple of incidents finally became my breaking point after watching this go on for approximately a month and a half. On the morning of November 8, 2013, Ruby came to our doorstep, we let her inside to contain her. Our neighbor came over to get her before he left for work. As he dragged her by her collar down the road, he kicked her hard several times as my then 11 year old son and I watched out the window.
On the evening of November 12, 2013, I came home from work to hear a horrifying story from my boyfriend and son. They stated that Ruby ran into our yard and wouldn't leave my boyfriends side. Within minutes, our neighbor came over angrily to retrieve her, he kept yelling at her to come, she wouldn't. He chased her, and she ran away from him, he became angrier. He yelled at my boyfriend to grab her and get her in the house so hey could put a collar on her to get her home. He stated that she wasn't wearing one because she had a sore on her neck. My boyfriend noted 2 burn marks within a "hotspot" that resembled cigarette burns that were caused by the electric nubs on the collar. He did as asked and brought her to the entry way of our house, our neighbor followed behind. He then got Ruby down to the floor where he put his hands around her neck trying to choke her. Her squeals and yelps were extremely loud and eventually her pain tolerance gave out and she desecrated on the floor. He apologized for her accident and continued to drag her to his home.. My family was very shaken by this, not sure how to react or what to do. This story was devastating to me.
Then on the afternoon of November 15, 2013, just 2 days after the previous incident, Ruby came into our yard with a shock collar on. She came up to us to greet us and for some attention. We heard our neighbor calling her and when she didn't come running, he started repeatedly shocking her. The shock collar was located in the same spot where the burns were located just days before. So with his own knowledge of the previous injuries, he kept shocking her and burning her over the already existent sores. Meaning to purposely cause even further pain than what the collar is intended to inflict.
I was at my whits end. I'd contacted an acquaintance in law enforcement and asked him if it was possible to make an anonymous complaint, he said "No, not if you want it to be investigated". I thought about making a non-anonymous complaint and considered the repercussions of that, risking our neighbor getting extremely angry with us and also risking possible retaliation against us. I also did some research on the odds of what an investigation might yield. It appeared that the odds of things going in our/Ruby's favor didn't look good. Her neck wounds were the only real physical signs of trauma that one could see. Most of the hitting, kicking and shocking didn't leave marks. The starvation didn't happen long or often enough to make her lose weight. Outwardly, she looked fearful, but not severely abused. Unless authorities were to witness the abuse, it looked like there'd be no intervention taken.. The situation seemed hopeless and I felt so badly for her, I was in tears on numerous occasions.
So, on the morning of November 25, 2013, Ruby showed up at my doorstep once again as she'd done numerous times before, and my own conscience would not allow me to let my neighbor come over and retrieve her so that I could watch her get dragged and beaten as they went down the road as I'd done so many times before. In my head I said " No! Not this time!" I know I was in the wrong legally, but it seemed like the only way to end her pain. I transported her to my workplace, found a temporary foster situation and worked for a couple of days to figure out a more permanent situation. One presented itself, it was not ideal given that I was hoping to get her out of the area and this home was still very local. But this family was already bonding to her and becoming very attached, they wanted to give her a home so much and I knew she would be very loved there, so I agreed.
She lived with them very happily for 3 1/2 years until June 26th, 2017, when Ruby escaped out of her tie out and collar. She was reported to the Elk River Police Department and brought into Barrington Oaks Veterinary Hospital, where she was scanned and her microchip was found. My neighbor was immediately notified, he called us almost right away, very excited that she was finally recovered and planned to pick her up the following day. I called her family right away, they tried to pick her up, but were told that the registered owner had been called and there was a police investigation started as this dog had been reported stolen years ago. The next day, the ERPD contacted the family and extracted information from them. I received a phone call from them as well after that for questioning. I was informed of all the information they had about the situation and that luckily we were outside of the 3 year statute of limitations for felony theft. Obviously I was quite relieved about that but because I know my neighbor, I knew this wasn't over!
So it was no surprise when my boyfriend and I were served with a small claims civil suit a couple of weeks ago. He is suing us for the sum of $7500 at this point. Our court date is September 27, 2017. I started this petition in hopes that as many people as possible will join me in protest to an animal abuser being able to essentially be rewarded and paid for displaying this type of abuse and behavior, and also in protest of citizens not having the ability to report this type of abuse and have it taken seriously and investigated to the fullest extent just because these animals/pets have no voice of their own to be heard. They can't suffer in silence any longer! I need as many signatures as possible by September 26th 2017! Thank you all for your time!
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Update #14 years ago
Court went well. Before the appearance I offered my neighbor a significant settlement as long as Ruby could stay with the family that loves her. Unfortunately, he rejected it. He insists she's in a good home now but won't disclose with whom or where. His opinion of a good home and mine obviously greatly differ. We won't get a final verdict until next week when the judge decides if we owe him anything or not. Please keep sharing the petition until then!