Politics: Man Bites Dog, Only in Miami Beach…

By Jeffrey Bradley

What anywhere else in the world would call “crazy” in this topsy-turvy place is just another day in the life of. So call it weird; call it bizarre. Call it a Miami Beach human-interest story. But whatever else you do, don’t call it fiction.

What started out as a walk in the park (well, almost) turned into a waking nightmare of ravening dogs, balky cops, incomprehensible orders issued from City Hall, timid neighbors, sirens screaming in the night, and a fight for a fistful of pain pills. (We’re only kidding about the screaming sirens, altho’ there was some crazed careering on the way to Mt Sinai that made Mr Toad’s Wild Ride look tame.)

It went down like this. On our way to attend important business (our business is always important) on a road we walk at least four times a day (important business demands back-and forthing), we hurried along texting—horrible habit—in the bicycle lane, on the road, away from the houses, when two large lop-eared dogs appeared. While not a huge fan of dogs (chickens, we find, are far more quirky pets) we tolerate the crotch-sniff and woof! our presence occasions and pay them no mind. Man’s best friend, right? Well, not always. And not this time. Feigning friendliness, this despicable duo no sooner got behind us, and wham! a half-husky mix grabbed us by the hamstring and chomped. Hard. Outrage overrode shock as we spun and kicked the cur straightaway in the muzzle. The pair then moved in with stiff-legged menace, but were undone by the ferocity of our brandished baguette and rebel yell counterattack. They broke and fled, tails curled in disgrace, as we zinged a rock past their head while noting the yard they ran into. Unspeakable insults! Tho’ our task took us elsewhere we would soon be back.

Resuming our way, we called the police (not 911) to explain the situation and ask that they meet at our destination. When nobody showed after more than an hour we called back, and were asked if things couldn’t be handled over the phone—even after the fact of a vicious attack, the copious blood, and that two aggressive dogs were roaming the neighborhood had been established. When officers did show, it was with great reluctance that they viewed the wound before musing things hadn’t been “handled right”, whatever that means. Reminding them we were the victim, they impatiently asked what could be done. Hopefully our scorn was as palpable as our disbelief: “Shoot the dogs or arrest the owner”, we told them.

This is the part where things get weird(er). Officers Elmore and Rodriguez informed that they were “under orders” from City Hall they to refrain from “knocking on doors” in Orchard Park as those residents don’t like being “bothered”… in this case by the police doing their duty. Never mind that this neighborhood is plagued by break-ins and property crimes, which police can hardly solve without, you know, knocking on doors. Law enforcement frustration over this NIMBY illogic is entirely justified, especially as these same people would scream bloody murder if anything happened in their back yards. So, again, we witness elected officials spinelessly caving before nattering nonsense of numbskull NIMBYists who place all in danger while exposing the wardheelism that passes for leadership.

Finally badgering the foot-dragging cops into accompanying us back to the scene, these two exemplars of empathy, sworn to uphold the law, actually stood on the sidewalk as we did the knocking. In every case, incredulous neighbors emerged to peer at our wounds and the cross-armed cops on the sidewalk before doing a double-take and launching a tirade against those “no-good mutts” with their “miserable” owner. Apparently they are nuisance enough to have established a reputation for attack and defense, and being avoided at all costs. (We deduced that no had ever called in a complaint. Why?) A small crowd gathered to air their views, yet still the police said or did nothing. Finally, two persons identifying themselves as “short-term renters” on the 4400 block of Royal Palm Avenue admitted that their landlord owned the dogs but “didn’t live there.” At this startling news, the police asked for our identification and disappeared in their patrol cars—no doubt to run a background check. That’s it, blame the victim; there’s one way of solving the problem!

With the police withdrawn like snails in their shells, we spotted the offending pooch skulked in a corner and sidled over to chat him up over his unwise aggression. Poor thing had no fight left in him, limping away on three legs like that.

When the police had rested enough, they approached with a report number and the news that Animal Control was enroute, if we cared to wait a half hour. We declined with thanks, being on our way to get the bloodied and still-bleeding gash fixed at the hospital.

Alas, there we fared worse what with the 3-hour wait and the handful of pain meds they grudgingly gave. (Newsflash to Mt Sinai: We didn’t injure ourselves just to ask you for Percocets… it only fell out that way.) Our estimation of Mt Sinai as a caring place that looks after patient welfare—you know, a hospital—sank even lower when we returned to request a refill. “Five, we’ll only give you five!” the emergency room medic practically shrieked, having worked himself into a swivet. Hey, calm down, doc. We’re not asking that you give it from your own private stash. In the end, another four hours for another five pills. “A Commitment To Excellence”? Sure, just don’t ask for any pain medication.

Some good guys did emerge—Animal Control! They sent an officer to get the story and check the damage as soon as we called. (Turns out, someone had cancelled the original call to pick up the dogs. We know we didn’t do it, and we can vouch for the dogs, so that leaves only those helpful cops, who no doubt had a date at Dunkin’ Donuts and couldn’t wait 30 minutes.) But props to Officer Santiago from Animal Control for a job well done. After going off to write citations and quarantine the dogs, he returned to say the owner had given some attitude, and gave us a number to call in case of trouble. If the overpaid police had acted with half this alacrity, things would already be over and done with instead of stretching into a second week.

In the event, the self-centeredness of the dog owner, the police aversion to action, the ridiculous don’t-knock-don’t-bother edict of the City, and the hospital staff’s churlishness, came together in a perfect storm of idiocy. Only the dog pound came through with flying colors, leading one to think that agency could give the others some sensitivity training in dealing with people.

The dogs are still there; what if next time a child’s attacked? No doubt we’re going to have to fight to make the owner cowboy up to her responsibilities of ownership and understand that actions most surely have consequences. Getting her to pay for our medical bills should be fun—any ambulance chasers willing to accept payment on a contingency basis?

As to that vicious dog attack, we only are escaped alone to tell thee.

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