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Dog Attack Restitution

Another chapter in the long, painful, lonely, and frustrating story of being attacked from behind by 2 aggressive dogs without warning comes to a close with the payment of dog attack restitution received this week. The attack happened nearly 1 year ago, the day before Thanksgiving 2021. That makes Thanksgiving 2022 the anniversary. Essentially, the holiday feels ruined. And, yet, the check arrived more than 6 months after it was ordered. The restitution process is convoluted and lengthy, with it not becoming official until like late July and then having a 91 day waiting / comment period  (as if the month's prior didn't count) and then a letter going out demanding payment. Here's how all that feels today.

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Backstory - Dog Attack Restitution

After those 2 dangerous / aggressive dogs attacked me and Mr. Stix from behind, without warning, on our routine morning walk the day before Thanksgiving last year, I repeated this mantra, like a Jedi mind trick:

  • You will plead guilty.
  • You will pay restitution.
  • You will move.

It gave me a way to feel a sense of control and to put energy into the outcome I hoped to see, at a time when violence and negativity permeated our neighborhood where I no longer felt safe. For those who haven't read about the attack, suffice it to say that the noises that echoed down our mountain valley afterwards were NOT firecrackers. 

Guilty!

The defendant did plead guilty in April thanks to a plea deal from the district attorney, where they dropped one charge in exchange for a plea on the other. I thought for sure we'd go to trial when I learned he hired a lawyer who specializes in defending aggressive dogs, but I like to think the strength of the evidence and my detailed statements convinced them otherwise.

Dog Attack Restitution

dog attack restitution check redacted

I was NOT allowed to include the costs of therapy for PTSD or lost income in my restitution request, so this amount *only reflects direct medical and veterinary costs for our injuries and replacement or repair of damaged property, including my torn coat, broken sunglasses, and getting a stone in my wedding ring reset because all the bites to my hands knocked it loose.

Move?

Not yet. I'm still hoping this un-neighborly family (that has never said a single word to me) will move so that I do not have the threat of these 2 dogs living just 1/3 mile up the road hanging over my head well into the future and don't have to:

  • See the dogs hanging out of the defendant's truck driving by
  • See the defendant driving by in his McLaren (very, very expensive sports car )

Part of me wishes I'd asked that I be informed when they move or when the dogs die (I have no sense of how old they are, so no idea how much longer the threat exists), but maybe that request wouldn't have been granted anyway. 

Because I see them sometimes several times a week, I've turned seeing or hearing them (howling) into a cue to repeat the healing belief statement I've been working on in EMDR therapy. So, I lift my head up. I pull my shoulders back, and I look RIGHT AT THEM and repeat my healing statement to myself.

I'm sure they don't give a flying fig about me or even a fleeting thought about how I still struggle, but with constant reminders of their presence, I needed to turn it into something other than a panic attack trigger because those are exhausting and put a huge dent in my day / productivity. 

About the Dog Attack Restitution Payment

Honestly, I feel somewhat ambivalent about the money, so for now, it goes into a savings account.

I'm considering framing the check as a testament to our ongoing survival and strength despite the continued physical, emotional, and financial fallout from the attack (ex: my income is down like 56% so far this year).

Managing Expectations as a Dog Attack Survivor

I never allowed myself to believe that any of this legal process would feel satisfying to me.

  • The dogs, for example, face ZERO sanctions because, as people say a lot in these situations, "it's only their first attack." 
  • And, the judge literally only skimmed my victim's impact statement at the hearing in real time for about 90 seconds. 

BUT, I remain proud that, at the very least, I set a legal precedent so that WHEN these dogs attack again (and I believe they will), then *maybe someone will take it more seriously.

Also, I find it somewhat heartening to see the phrase "The People of the State of Colorado vs ..." on the dog attack restitution check because this experience feels VERY lonely even now.

Thankful

Still, I'm so grateful to our neighbors who heard me screaming and came to my aid. Without them, I truly believe the dogs would have murdered Mr. Stix

Roxanne Hawn

Trained as a traditional journalist and based in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, USA, I'm a full-time freelance writer for magazines, websites, and private clients. My areas of specialty include everything in the lifestyles arena, including health and home, personal finance and other consumer interests, relationships and trends, people and business profiles ... and, of course, all things pet related. I don't just love dogs. I need them in my life. Seriously.

Mary Wilson - November 4, 2022

You’re a very brave woman. So many people would have not pursued this legally. Those dogs could have murdered you as well. I suppose then they would have taken the threat seriously. God bless you. Grateful for the good neighbors too.

katie waterman - November 4, 2022

No one should have to go through all of this. We are all dog lovers but that does not mean that ALL dogs should get away with harming others and dog owners should not be able to have dogs that harm others.

Susan - November 4, 2022

I am still so sorry this ever happened in the 1st place; all good thoughts from here.

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