Afraid of Neighbor’s Dogs

(WSVN) - Every time she walks out of her front door, she looks to make sure her neighbor’s dogs are not loose. She says she’s convinced they are going to hurt someone, but can she do anything about it? She called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser to find out.

When Michelle and her husband bought their house, they couldn’t wait to fix it up, inside and outside.

Michelle Figueredo, afraid of neighbor’s dogs: “Make it a little bit more modern and just nicer.”

But when they walk out their front door, one thing is not always nice.

Michelle Figueredo: “Like they wanted to eat me, attack me. I’m going, ‘Oh, my God. What is this?'”

Michelle says when she got home one day, her neighbor’s two dogs were out, and they would not let her out of her car.

Michelle Figueredo: “Lab mix with pit bull, the other one a bulldog, bulldog mix with pit bull.”

Before Michelle moved into the neighborhood, another person called police telling them she feared for her children’s safety after one of the dogs got into her backyard.

Michelle Figueredo: “On the 15th, the dogs were out again.”

Michelle then started checking their security cameras and saw the dogs running loose.

Michelle Figueredo: “So this is a case of them escaping, them not even knowing.”

The owner was cited for dogs running at large.

And then Michelle made a mistake.

After she took her Maltese out to go to the bathroom, she had to run back inside. When she returned, her dog was gone. Her daughter helped her search.

Michelle Figueredo: “She heard a voice of a man right here, coming from this house here, saying, ‘Hey, your dog’s here.’ She sees Royce, my dog, laying sideways like dead.”

Royce had slipped through the fence in the neighbor’s yard. The two dogs Michelle is terrified of had attacked him.

Michelle Figueredo: “Four bites, three broken ribs.”

Royce survived, and Michelle doesn’t blame the dog’s owner since her dog walked through their fence.

Michelle Figueredo: “I’m not asking for vet bills, not at all.”

But she is now certain the dogs are dangerous, and something has to be done.

Michelle Figueredo: “They could bite a human, they could bite a child and cause great damage.”

Police told her they couldn’t do anything till the dogs bit a human.

Michelle Figueredo: “Then it’s too late.”

The dogs’ owner told me she felt sorry for Royce, but he was running loose and came into her yard. She added her dogs were not dangerous.

Michelle Figueredo: “I need to do something, and that’s why I called you.”

Well, Howard, if you believe your neighbor’s dogs are dangerous, can you do anything about them?

Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “There are two ways to remove a dog in Miami-Dade. If they are pit bulls, they are illegal, and they can be removed. Otherwise, no matter what county you live in, the dogs have to bite or try to attack a human, or kill or severely injure two animals off their property, before the county can remove them.”

We contacted Miami-Dade Animal Control. They told me neither animal appears to have any pit bull. They did say the dogs owners had been cited 10 times over the past few years for failure to vaccinate their dogs against rabies and failure to obtain a license.

The dogs’ owner, Arlyn Mendoza, then came to a hearing to fight the citation for the animal running loose.

Arlyn Mendoza: “I am going to withdraw the appeal. I am going to go ahead and pay the citations.”

She then told us again her dogs were not dangerous and only got out one time.

Arlyn Mendoza: “And it was because the lawn fumigator left the gate open.”

Michelle says it wasn’t a one-time thing — and while Royce’s wounds have healed, her fear of her neighbor’s dogs has not.

Michelle Figueredo: “I have to open my door, look. What is that? I should be able to go in and out of my house without fear.”

Michelle says she knows her dog got out when he got attacked, but she says her dog isn’t going to hurt anything.

Since that hearing where the dogs’ owner paid the fine for them running loose, Michelle says she has not see them outside their fence.

Got a problem that’s dogging you? Tired of things being so “ruff”? Let it be our pet project. We will chew on it and fetch a legal solution.

CONTACT HELP ME HOWARD:
Email: helpmehoward@wsvn.com
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN

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