Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Sidney is Free - Thank You, World

At 7:24 p.m. on August 8th, Sidney, unshackled from his allegorical paw-cuffs and thinner than he was before, along with Eric, Belinda and Ruby, jumped into their old white car at the New York Avenue Animal Shelter, and began their 5-hour trip back home to Brooklyn, New York. Sidney is now free, or as free as a dog can be. And he is free only because of his indefatigable guardians, Eric and Belinda, his capable animal lawyer, Sean Day, Channel 7 and The Washington Post, and the hundreds --- maybe thousands --- of people from around the world who sent messages of support to blogs, the media and officials in the DC government.

But thanks also must go to Judge Jesse P. Goode, who, by ordering the Department of Health to go back to working this matter out as they should have before it got to him, saw precisely what was going on; to Google (you guys deserve every penny you earn, and your stock options too); and, of course, to Oprah.

(Oprah? Why Oprah? She didn't do anything, did she? Well, you be the judge. Six hours after the "mayor" acknowledged in writing that he would follow Sidney's troubles and wished us well with our letters to Oprah, Sidney was freed, despite the Department of Health's refusal earlier in the day to continue discussions with Sidney's guardians --- as the judge had ordered --- and decision to defer to the judge's decision.)

As Sidney's car started to pull out of the animal control center, Belinda leaned out of the car and said to me, "I wish we could take all the pit bulls in there with us." I turned to her and said, "You are, in your heart and in the legacy Sidney will leave behind."

Five photos of Sidney's release from the pound and his last moments in DC forever are shown in the next posting. DC's Channel 7 (shown in photo 1) ran a piece several hours after Sidney's first taste of freedom in 36 days and last look at DC, which he had to agree to in order to get his freedom. (Of course, the DC government had to get something in order to justify the egregious waste of precious taxpayer resources that were spent on this case, and Sidney, as a dog, was only too happy to oblige. But since the agreement was nothing more than what Eric and Belinda were more than willing to sign on July 5th, this does raise the question, What the heck was going on here?)

Since we had never met Eric, Belinda or Sidney before, we were struck by two things when we got our first glimpse of Sidney last night. What a handsome dog he is. We fell in love with the guy the first moment we set eyes on him. But also, we were struck by what a wimp the guy is. We were expecting, well, as The Washington Post called him, a "bruiser." If the city councilman who pressed for Sidney's incarceration and death was going to use him as his poster dog for banning pit bulls from the city, he would have been the laughing stock of the whole city.

On a serious note, all of us in DC and perhaps in the United States owe Sidney a huge debt of gratitude. In DC, he unearthed some serious flaws in our process of government, flaws that need to be addressed very soon, and that's where this Blogger --- and others --- will now turn. Sidney's --- and his guardians' --- departure from the city should have taken place 35 days ago, and that's the precise measure of the flaws that need repair. Beyond that, Sidney also unearthed some very serious flaws in the Dangerous Dog Acts sweeping the country, where good, innocent dogs are getting caught in the strong jaws of those Acts simply because of complaints that should have been resolved long before they wasted precious government resources, drained the emotions and resources of responsible owners, and condemned otherwise innocent dogs to lives behind bars (or muzzles) or death. I have already communicated my strong concerns to the Humane Society of the United States, which has drafted a Model Dangerous Dog Act that needs critical reworking it. There is no question but that dog bites are a terrible thing, no matter who is the victim. There is also no question but that dangerous dogs can be a problem. But as long as dog owners will be careless, our authorities need to be able to recognize accidents from problems, and even then it is not the dogs that we need to be targeting primarily, but irresponsible --- especially chronically irresponsible --- owners and the social problems that give rise to the irresponsibility in the first place. Fortunately, there are good people working very hard at finding appropriate solutions, and animals everywhere are benefiting.

Again, this Blogger --- for Sidney --- wants to thank the numerous people from around the world who responded to our pleas, especially the many people with whom we communicated directly by phone, e-mail or on the street. You all know who you are. Also, we want to thank the lawyers, animal advocates, philosophers and plain old dog lovers who helped us with this blog. But it wasn't our blog or Sidney's; it was every dog's and dog lover's blog.

One final comment. My final words to Eric and Belinda as they pulled out of the animal control center were really for Sidney. I simply said, "On behalf of all of us in Washington, I apologize for the way you were treated by our authorities simply for being a dog." (I should have said, ". . . simply for being a pit bull mix.") Then, in my unofficial capacity as nothing in particular, I pardoned him.

Thank you, World. Thank you, Eric and Belinda, for letting us interpose ourselves in this matter. And thank you, Sidney.


If you wish to leave Sidney good wishes for his life back in Brooklyn, please post a comment to this posting and I will get it to him. If you wish for it to remain private, say that and I will respect that.

Also, Eric and Belinda have asked that everyone who sent their support for Sidney, to please consider donating whatever you can to your local animal shelter. And please ask them to behavior test every dog for adoptability, even the pit bulls.

You might wish to send a letter to DC Mayor Fenty thanking him for his role in Sidney's release, but asking him to make sure that he puts in place the proper precautions to make sure what happened to Sidney does not happen again. A suggested letter is shown in Appendix (8).

Eric and Belinda asked if they could post a letter here to Washingtonians after they get back home, and I agreed. It will appear in the next posting.


"Please keep your dogs on 6-foot leashes and under control at all times; and your governments too."


This Blog has officially ended. However, it will remain here as a reminder that things are not always what they appear to be on the surface and that our government officials are accountable to the people. Individuals postings may change from time to time to correct (or add) any (new) material facts and opinions and conclusions of this blogger. Appropriate, intelligent comments will be welcome also, but moderated by Blogger, of course.


No animals were harmed or killed in the making of this blog.


"My life is full of meaning to me. The life of every living creature must be full of significance to itself." Albert Schweitzer

"Evil happens when good people do nothing." Edmund Burke

"Good happens when evil people do nothing." Blogger

"The way to change the world is not by passing more laws and regulations that malevolent people can use for their own purposes, but by educating and informing people. People want to do what is right." Blogger

"The way you save the world is by saving one living creature at a time." Blogger

"There is nothing more satisfying in life than lending to a voiceless creature your own voice (or hand), especially when someone is trying to harm that creature." Blogger

"Things are never what they appear to be a first, especially in the fog of war." Common Sense

"The only one who really knows what is going on in the mind of a dog, is a dog." Anon.

"When two gorillas get ready to fight, they throw dust at each other." Robert A.G.Monks, consumate shareholder activist.


This Blog is dedicated to Duke, Maximus, and Shana, and to all abused and homeless animals everywhere, and that includes pit bulls.

Photos of Sidney's Release

(Photos by Blogger. Please click on the photos to enlarge.)

1- Eric (on far side of camera) and Belinda (with Ruby) waiting for Sidney's release (Sean Day, Sidney's lawyer is to the left).

2- Sidney greeting (if that's the word) Eric upon his release.*

3- Sidney looking up to Eric for his first command in 36 days. We can only imagine what Sidney was thinking: "When can we get out of Dodge?" Our best guess is that you are looking at a dog who is truly experiencing joy.*

4- The first thing Sidney did upon getting in the car was to hit the driver's seat. I think we know what he was thinking at this point.

5- After Belinda took the driver's seat, Sidney started making his first real bed in 36 days.

* Please look at the wall to the left in photos 2 and 3. There are perhaps a few dozen dogs and cats behind that wall who have no one like Eric and Belinda to care for them. The lucky adoptable ones may make it out, others will not. Pit bulls, by the District's policy, are not tested for adoptability, so they never make it out and are euthanized. DC is not going to change that policy unless we force that change and accept the responsibilities that go along with that. The solution is not to ban pit bulls from the District as one city councilman wants to do, because then some other dogs will suffer the same fate as pit bulls. The solution is to educate people on the responsibilities involved with dog ownership. Can anyone remember when they last saw a public service advertisement on that subject?

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Letter from Belinda and Eric

To All Those Who Visit This Site:

First of all we’d like to thank the citizens of Washington D.C. and everywhere else for their support and fortitude. We cannot thank you enough. Your letters, calls and e-mails contributed greatly to freeing Sidney on August 8th.

Sidney is back home in Brooklyn enjoying his old routine, sitting in the sun on the pillows in the windows around our home, taking walks to the local park and playing with his ball and toys. We are so grateful to be back in New York as a whole family.

Sidney's case sheds light on the well-known flaws with the Dangerous Dog Act that is going beyond its purposes and is pulling in and destroying innocent animals because authorities do not take the dog themselves into consideration.

This whole experience brought home for us the plight of animals in shelters, especially Pit Bulls and other gorgeous dogs with Pit Bull in their mix. The saddest thing for us each day was seeing good dogs walked by Sidney's cage to their deaths all because they were unlucky to be born in D.C. with Pit Bull in their mix. We wish we could have taken all of them with us back to New York. It is up to each one of us in our communities to change that.

There is a quote that a friend illuminated for us that went something like: "Just as my life has full meaning to me, so also the life of every living creature must have full meaning to itself." Before the incident of July 4th, we never really could know what that quote meant. Now we do.

We hope we can return the help sometime for someone from Washington D.C. stranded in New York. We are thankful to live in a city where all dogs are treated with respect and protection. We only hope that our country can turn itself around and move forward toward a more humane and compassionate society.

For the love of all animals, we’ll remain yours sincerely,

Belinda Blum and Eric Wallach

Sidney’s Guardians

Brooklyn, New York

Latest Musings of Blogger; (formerly Latest Status Updates)

If you are new to this blog, you might wish to read the Please Help Save Sidney posting (below) first for Background.

This posting was formerly used for daily updates to and musings about Sidney's situation. Now that Sidney's own case is over it will no longer be used for updates, but it will continue to be used for Blogger's various musings about the larger issues that remain to be addressed, which was really the reason we stepped in in the first place. In particular, it will be used to answer the questions, Why did things go so terribly wrong in the DC government regarding this case and what can be done to prevent a recurrence of those things in the future? The DC government, acting in the name of the law and public health, committed, in my estimation, a serious breach of ethics, which caused grievous harm to individuals (on top of the suffering involved in the accident itself), wasted precious government resources, and brought adverse publicity on the city. Because I believe this, because of what I know, albeit as an outsider, and because it will happen again unless remedied, it would be wrong of me to turn my attention away from this now just because Sidney is back home. Granted, it appears that some of this breach was due to a bad law that the DoH is obligated to enforce, and probably does so correctly most of the time, but that is only part of it. Perhaps I know more than others; perhaps I do not know enough. Whatever the truth, this blog will continue until I am satisfied that I have done all I can do to inform those who can close those gaps or become enlightened myself.

My strong sense, after seeing the overwhelming response from compassionate people everywhere, is that most people agreed that there was something wrong going on here. But I am not too sure those in authority understand this.


Why did Blogger, who did not know any of the people (or dogs) connected with this case, spend so much time on this? What did he know that others do not?

More coming soon. Please standby.

Update as of Wednesday August 8th, 3:00 p.m.

1- There is nothing significant to report. Eric and Belinda are now in their 36th day of what we believe amounts to false imprisonment in DC as Sidney remains impounded while the DC government goes about business as usual. (Who in their right mind would leave their greyhound-pit bull mix dog in a pound that euthanizes pit bulls and pit bull-mixes every day as a matter of policy?) Therefore, if you have not sent the Mayor an e-mail or fax today along the lines of appendix (8), please consider doing so now, and ask your friends to do so too. The mayor campaigned that he would be open to involvement of citizens and new ideas in his administration, and here's his chance to prove it. Thank you.

Incidentally, despite your many messages to the mayor and others, from our vantage point and from what we have learned and confirmed from some we see no reason to have any optimism about the outcome of Sidney's case. Except perhaps for Judge Goode's perceptive realizing what was going on, there is no indication to us that the city government knows how to handle matters of this sort. If there is an adverse ruling in Sidney's case, an appeal could take a year or more, and Sidney would languish in the pound all that time just as he is now. Of course, this raises two questions many commenters have asked: Why is this terrible waste of resources going on when Sidney was leaving DC anyway? and Why didn't the issues of provocation (e.g., sudden invasion of space, etc.) and what the scene looked like from Sidney's standpoint come out at his expensive trial? Since the fundamental purpose of this blog is to free Sidney, it would serve no purpose answering them here now, but the answers to those questions became evident to us from the beginning, and they will be answered, whether Sidney is acquited or put down.

2- Several people have written to us that they have contacted Oprah (who, we understand, loves pit bulls) about putting Sidney's plight on her show. They suggested that others might do the same. For the specific page to submit your idea click here. Or you can go to Oprah's home page at, then go to "Be on The Show" and then "Your Idea for a Show" buttons. Be sure to state, however, that this matter is not about Sidney alone, but about all dogs wrongly caught in the Dangerous Dog Act and, more important, weak links in our process of government in general.

Previous updates that we are leaving up for the time being

Update as of Tuesday, August 7th, 4:00 a.m.

Unfortunately, we have no changes from last evening's report to report at this time.

2- Please send Mayor Fenty one last plea for him to take charge of Sidney's fate. A suggested letter to the mayor with his contact information is shown in appendix (8) at the very bottom of this blog (or click here). The letter lays out very vividly why DC's pressing this case is wrong. If you wish, send copies of the letter to others mentioned in the main blog.

3- We added the names of three more contacts for this matter in the main ("Save Sidney") posting below to include Lisa LaFontaine (who has a pit bull dog herself), who will take over as head of the Washington Humane Society in October; The Humane Society of the United States, which has published the Model Dangerous Dog Act that has been unevenly enacted or unfairly administered in a number of jurisdictions; and the Honorable Charles J. Willoughby, the DC Inspector General, who is responsible for investigating fraud waste and abuse in the DC Government (at a minimum, this is a terrible case of waste of precious DC resources, when it could have been settled in one day had there not been political intervention to press for Sidney's death).

Update as of Monday, August 6th, 6:30 p.m.

1- Unfortunately, we have no changes to the previous report to report at this time. But thanks to all who have sent letters to the Mayor and other government officials. Let us rephrase that. Thanks to all the compassionate, thinking and understanding people from around the globe who have sent letters and messages. (Please keep them coming.) Let's hope they have some impact on convincing the government of the US capital city to do what is right. That is why we are here, and that "we" includes you. If Sidney is freed, we are all freed.

2- Channel 7 in DC had a piece on Sidney's situation on the 5:00 news tonight (Monday). But please keep in mind that the real report was not about Sidney alone, but the strong jaws of the Dangerous Dogs Acts here and all across the country that are trapping good dogs. Sidney is not the only good dog that got caught in those jaws. By the way, we just read a piece on the Internet that the sponsor of the strict Dangerous Dog Act in New Mexico was just bitten by a dog himself, his own dog. (Read that story here.) We also read another piece that a man entering a house was viciously attacked by a pack of dogs, all Chihuahuas. Does anyone else see what we are getting at with the blog?

3- Those of you who are both lawyers and dog behaviorists in this country and know the facts in this case will appreciate this: The Model Dangerous Dog Act (see appendix 1) provides for a number of exceptions in naming a dog a dangerous dog (as the District petitioned to do with Sidney) and subject him/her to the strict --- if not fatal --- consequences of the Act. One very interesting exception is this: "§ 4. No dog shall be declared a dangerous or potentially dangerous dog if (c) The dog was: (2) Protecting or defending a human being within the immediate vicinity of the dog from an attack or assault." Now do you know why we started this blog? Again, you must be a lawyer and animal behaviorist to understand the full implications of that to the present case, but if you are neither of those, then being a compassionate, thinking person will be sufficient. In either case, take that "exception" and go read the facts in the case in he main posting, and when you do, put yourself in Sidney's shoes, we mean paws.

4- After Sidney's case is long over with, however it ends, we animal advocates have some work cut out for us in DC. We suspect have a problem here and it is not (only) with dangerous dogs we are afraid.

5- What is puzzling to us is this. Under the Dangerous Dog Acts sweeping the US, dogs are treated like humans when they are victims, but they are treated like trash when they are the perpetrators of bites of other dogs and subject to being euthanized (killed). But perpetrators of animal cruelty against, say, many pitbulls</font>, will get at the most six years in jail if they are convicted, while Sidney stands to get death, simply for being a pitbull</font> and defending his handler and space. Does anyone else see the unfairness in all of this? We think so.

Update as of Friday, August 3rd, 10:00 p.m.

Unfortunately, despite the administrative judge's orders, from all that we have been able to learn, there has been absolutely no final resolution of Sidney's case, and he still sits in the pound on New York Avenue awaiting his fate. Also from what we understand, Sidney's guardians had to return to New York for the weekend and leave him behind in DC. We have no idea what deadline the judge gave the parties and so we have no sense of when this phase of Sidney's saga must end before the judge makes his own decision. So it seems to us, folks, that a polite letter to Mayor Fenty</font> might still be in order, asking him to please encourage his Department of Health officials responsible for this matter to bring this saga to an end immediately in a compassionate, fair way that accurately reflects the facts, the law, precedent and procedure. The mayor's contact information is:

DC Mayor Adrian M. Fenty</font>: Contact Information Fax: 202-727-0505; Call Center Phone: 727-1000; E-mail:

From all we have learned about how government works, the more letters on the mayor's desk on Monday morning, the better. For Sidney, thanks.

While we have no information to report here about Sidney, we do want to report one thing of interest that we did learn today. You will be amazed at what we have to tell you. While Sidney's guardians, Belinda and Eric, were en route to the pound yesterday to visit Sidney, as they were driving on Eastern Avenue in NE Washington, they saw a mid-sized dog wandering in and out of the traffic, limping. Although there were a lot of people and cars in the area, no one was making an attempt to stop and help the poor dog. So Eric and Belinda, delaying their trip to see their own dog in the pound, stopped their car and started after the dog, a pitbull</font> mix (do you believe that?). The dog bolted and ran some distance from them, and then climbed the steps of a church, turned around and just sat there waiting for them. The dog, a 17-month-old female, was bleeding after having been hit by car. Despite her injury, the dog let them approach her, and so they put Sidney's leash on her to lead her to safety and to see if they could find her owner. They were reluctant to take her to animal control with them unless they were able to contact the owner first because, as most of you know by now, unclaimed pitbulls</font> or pitbull</font> mixes never make it out of the DC pound alive. Fortunately, the dog, whose name was Cleo, did have a collar and tag on and just before they got to the pound they were able to contact the owner who was thrilled to hear from them. As good luck would have it, a vet just happened to be at the pound and he carefully checked Cleo and gave her the first aid she needed. We believe the owner has since picked her up from the pound. But, amazingly, Cleo's owner said that the person who hit her called him and demanded that he pay for the damage to her bumper from when she hit Cleo. Apparently, after the woman hit Cleo, she stopped long enough only to get the owner's information from Cleo's tags to collect the damage for her bumper and did nothing to help Cleo or help her find her owner. Unbelievable. This is a story we could not have made up. We pass it on to you without further comment except to say, What a lucky dog Cleo was that Sidney was in the pound.

Again, we wish to stress that this blog is run by individuals not connected with the case or with any of the parties or dogs in it. We are simply DC residents concerned about the underlying issues with the incident itself and the aftermath, all of which are sure to affect all of us in the future.

As we learn significant information on Sidney's fate, we will report it here as soon as we learn it, but we expect nothing before Monday. If any reader learns something before we do, we would appreciate a comment telling us about it. In the meantime, please consider a polite letter to the mayor. He needs to know people care about this matter.

Thank you for visiting Sidney's site.


Recent photo, above: Sidney (on right) with Ruby.


One day in 1999, Belinda Blum found a ragged, gentle, 7-month-old greyhound/pitbull mix sitting in the playground of the Bronx school where she taught. He was just sitting there, watching the children playing. When she went back later at lunch and then after school, he was still there, so she took the little fellow to the vets for a check-up and shots and to get him neutered. Since there was no way she could release the puppy back onto the streets of the Bronx or pass him off to an unknown fate at an animal control center, she named him Sidney, adopted him herself and took him into her Brooklyn home with her friend Eric Wallach (also a school teacher), where the two of them raised him without incident for eight years. What a lucky dog Sidney was, considering fate of most dogs who wander city streets and, more so, considering the cruelty that we Americans dole out to both of Sidney's breeds, the greyhounds on the racetracks and the pitbulls in the fighting rings. Sidney's companions, in addition to Belinda and Eric, often included his dog friends as well as small children, inlcuding, as of 7 months ago, Ruby, the newest member of the family, shown above in the photo on the left.

When Belinda and Eric traveled, they sometimes left Sidney with her mother, Deborah, who lives in the Adams Morgan section of Washington DC, where he was known as a good dog among those who knew him there. And that's what they did when they went away for the July 4th weekend this year too, which, as it turns out, was unfortunate for the now 49-pound Sidney.

On July 4th, known to be the worst day for animal control in most cities, Zomai, Deborah's friend, decided to take Sidney out for a walk, as he had done without incident over the past several years when Sidney was in town. At around 10:30 p.m., while the fireworks were still exploding all over, Zomai was standing on a corner talking to a friend, with Sidney obediently sitting by his side on a short-leash. Both were doing precisely what they were supposed to be doing, minding their own business. All of a sudden, without any warning to Zomai whatsoever, an "individual," walking his two small (10 pound) dogs on 5-foot separate leashes suddenly approached Zomai and Sidney within close range (6 feet) and without any warning (he saw Zomai and knew he did not see him, but decided not to interrupt his conversation and take the risk of walking by him). Sidney, already spooked by the fireworks, quickly turned around 180 degrees and saw the two small dogs and then did what most dogs would do in that case, he defended his space. (Dogs, as most know, have no concept at all of their own size compared to other dogs, but they do know when they are outnumbered by other dogs. Dogs also are actually much more territorial on leashes than off.) Unfortunately, a melee broke out and both dogs were bitten, one seriously (but she is recovering). Zomai immediately dropped the leash, jumped on top of the dogfight and, using both of his hands, tried to separate Sidney and Molly. The individual also voluntarily jumped into the fray and was allegedly bitten as well. There is no question but that Sidney bit the small dog.

Soon after the fight broke up, a police officer, who had been sitting in her cruiser seventy feet away, drove up and said she saw the whole incident even though it was dark where the incident occurred. (Note: it came out at the hearing mentioned below that the officer was actually getting ready to shoot Sidney even after the melee broke up, but then back up arrived.) After the individual twice screamed, “I’m going to have that dog killed!” The officer told him, “Don’t say that.” For some reason, the officer did not get any witnesses because she did not think it was necessary since she saw the whole incident. She did, however, talk with the individual's friend, who came to the scene after the individual left with his dogs. Although she got his account on the scene, she never asked Zomai his account of what happened. But she did proceed to give Zomai a ticket for having an unleashed dog even though Sidney was leashed and until Zomai voluntarily dropped the leash to break up the dogfight. Also, the next day, although she had given the individual the contact information he asked for, she refused to give Belinda and Eric the contact information for the individual, saying, “Don’t worry, the victim’s owner will be in touch with you about a law suit. He has your information.”

Soon after the incident, someone contacted a local television station with the individual's story and then contacted a city council member (who happens have a strong anti-pitbull position), but never contacted Sidney’s owner, Belinda. Belinda, however, had already written him wrote a note with wishes for the Molly’s speedy recovery.

When Belinda talked with Animal Control she was told that they would take a “bite report,” which they would send to the DC Department of Health (DoH) to be processed, after which an in-house investigation would take place before Sidney would ever be taken away. Belinda explicitly stated that she would be back in Washington D.C. by early Friday and asked if the interview could wait twenty-four hours so that she could be present. The Animal Control agent said that she would record the request and send it in with her report, saying and repeating, “no one [was] going to come and take the dog”.

While Belinda was flying back across the country to DC, the DoH (or animal control) went to Deborah's home and seized Sidney without a warrant and without notifying Zomai or Deborah of their rights. The DoH took Sidney by means that were described as intimidation and coercion. When they took Sidney away, there was no sign of struggle or aggression by Sidney. The night after Sidney was seized, the animal control center received an anonymous call reporting that he had bitten before, which is interesting because he had not and didn’t even live in the city.

On July 5th, 2007, Belinda asked for an administrative hearing on Sidney's seizure from the DoH as the process required. On Thursday, July 12th a hearing took place before an administrative law judge to share evidence between the DoH and Belinda. Belinda's attorney objected to the illegal seizure of Sidney, but he was overruled.

On July 22, 2007, desperate to get their beloved dog back, frustrated by the tactics in seizing Sidney, and overwhelmed by the one-sided press and attention, Belinda, Eric and some friends attempted a rescue of Sidney from his confinement in the dismal DC Animal Control Center where for nine days he wasn’t walked or allowed to run. They brought a letter from their lawyer stating that Sidney was seized without a warrant in violation of the 4th Amendment to the United States Constitution and D.C. Code 1-1902(b). The rescue attempt failed and Sidney, without any resistance whatsoever and was pulled away from Belinda and Eric and returned to this cell.

Although the official investigation into the incident with Sidney appeared to be incomplete, the whole case has been accelerated into the Dangerous Dog Act.

The hearing on Sidney's fate was be held on Thursday, July 26th to determine Sidney's fate. At the end of the hearing, the judge ordered both sides (the DOH and Sidney' owners) to continue discussing an acceptable solution before he has to issue his order in 5 days. The judge also reprimanded Eric and Belinda and their attorney for the attempted rescue, saying that he thought he made it clear that he was in charge of the case. An article appeared in the Washington Post the next day about the hearing.

Note: To the best of our knowledge, none of the above information conflicts with any information released at the July 26th hearing. If anyone has any information to the contrary, please let us know.


As you will read in the first posting on this blog, Sidney was freed on August 8th as the result of the overwhelming outpouring of support from people in the DC area, in New York and from around the globe. But just because Sidney is free, it does not mean that what happened to him and his guardians could not happen again in DC or, for that matter, in other places where the Dangerous Dog Acts are manipulated to catch and punish dogs that do not belong in it. Therefore, please write to the DC Mayor and thank him for his role in freeing Sidney, but also to express your concern of the chilling effect Sidney's case will have on all owners of dogs in the District of Columbia if something is not done to correct what went wrong in Sidney's case. The mayor wants desperately to get his new administration off the a good start and has done some good work already. He will be responsive to your concerns if you let him know what they are.

A sample letter you might wish to edit and send to the Mayor is shown below in appendix (8) (or click here). His fax number is: 202-727-0505. His call center number is: 727-1000; his e-mail is or You might, as appropriate, send copies of your letter to other individuals on the contact list shown at the end of this posting .

If you live outside of DC, you might wish to check what kind of Dangerous Dog Acts have been enacted (usually without a lot of publicv involvement) to understand what might happen to your own dog in your own home and to figure out what you can do to improve those laws.


Of course, for the long run, even when this case is over, there will remain issues are for those of us in DC with dogs. These issues, which are being followed very closely by Blogger and others, and have been discussed already with numerous officials of different organizations, will be explored at a later time and suggestions will be given to the DC officials responsible and others to improve the process if it needs improving. Clearly, chief among those issues is the matter of what process should the DoH follow prior to a dog's being kicked into the Dangerous Dog Act and perhaps euthanized unfairly.

Of all the long run issues that emerge from this case, more important than the process used by the city to deal with animal-bites-animal issues are the issues of how the public is educated regarding (a) responsible handling of animals in public (and on private property) and (b) the penalties under the Dangerous Dog Act to dogs if their owners or someone else disregards those responsibilities. This case should be a wake up call to everyone in DC who owns a dog. Our discussions with people on the street with dogs tells us that people have no idea at all what the law says today. If they knew, the streets would either be cleared of dogs or full of muzzled dogs, large and small.

Incidentally, this whole blog is not about what happened on July 4th, because what happened, happened, and there is nothing anyone can do about that now. But it is about freeing Sidney and improving matters for this District of Columbia residents who own dogs and for those who visit with their dogs. Fortunately, the small dog is recovering well (at home now we learned today) and that is equally as important as freeing Sidney.


DC Mayor Adrian M. Fenty: Contact Information Fax: 202-727-0505; Call Center Phone: 727-1000; E-mail:

The DC City Council Members we believe have an interest in animal protection or related issues (one way or the other) include: Jim Graham, Jack Evans, Mary Cheh, Carol Schwartz and Phil Mendelson. Please click here for the web site with the DC Council members' contact info.
or go to www.dc.goc and click on the City Council bottom at the bottom of the home page.

The city council member who, according to what was learned from the Department of Health (see below) , is pressing the petition to declare Sidney a dangerous dog, and possibly put to death, to advance his case to ban pit bulls and mixes from the District, is Mr. James Graham, in whose Ward (1) the incident of July 4th occurred. Mr. Graham's contact information is: Phone: 202-724-8181; Fax #: 202-724-8109; E-mail:

The Office of the Inspector General is responsible for investigating allegations of fraud, waste and absue of government resources. The contact information for the Inspector General is:
Honorable Charles J. Willoughby
DC Inspector General
Office of the Inspector General
717 14th Street, NW, Fifth Floor
Washington, DC 20005
Phone: (202) 727-2540
Fax: (202) 727-9846

The Humane Society of Washington runs the DC animal control program as a contractor for and under the policies of the DC Government, reporting to the Department of Health. In any communication you have with the Humane Society, whatever their role in this case may have been, please acknowledge the otherwise great job that they do with a heartbreaking, thankless task under policies that are handed to them by DC, and with funding that is woefully inadequate. The interim executive director's contact information is: Ilene Steiman, 202-723-5730 ext 229,

Ms. Lisa LaFontaine has been appointed CEO of the Washington Humane Society, effective in October. She is currently with the Monadnock Humane Society in New Hampshire (PO Box 678, Route 10, West Swanzey, NH 03469). Please ask her to weigh in now on this matter because, among other things, she has a pit bull herself, and she will have to live with the aftermath. Please ask her when she arrives in DC to strive to include all dogs, including pit bulls, in the DC Animal Control's policy which is now : A Good Home for all Adoptable Animals, that is, except pit bulls, who are not tested for adoptability because of funds.
Monadnock's contact information is:
E-mail Address:
Phone: 603-352-9011
Voice Mail - (603) 352-0035
Fax - (603) 358-6095

The DC Department of Health (DoH) administers the city's programs regarding animals. The chief of the DoH's Animal Disease Prevention Department is Ms. Peggy Keller. Her office is responsible for all animal control matters. Please be polite in any communication you send to her as she too is only doing her job --- a thankless but important job at that --- and she is known to be reasonable and fair. She has too many bosses, too little funding, and a huge job. Her contact information is: Phone: 202-535-2188, Fax: 202-535-1359, e-mail:

The Administrative Law Judge who held the hearings was Judge Jesse P. Goode. His contact information is: Office of Administrative Hearings, Administrative Law Judge is Jesse P. Goode, Fax: 202.442.4789, Phone: 202.442.9094. You may obtain a copy of the complete CD recording of the July 26th hearing by sending a $10 check made out to the DC Treasurer for CD Number DH-A078007 (DoH v. Blum) to: DC Office of Administrative Hearings, 825 North Capitol Street NE, Room 4150, Washington DC 20002-4210.


The Humane Society of the United State
s has published a Model Dangerous Dog Act (See appendix 1). Mr. Adam Goldfarb is the Issues Specialist there who works on Companion Animals issues. Please write Mr. Goldfarb and plead with him to improve the Model Act and the guidelines that accompany it (there are no guidelines now) to, among other things, to make sure that truly good dogs do not get caught in the jaws of the Act by, say legislators who wish to use it to achieve their own ends or vindictive neighbors trying to destroy dogs they do not like. Mr. Goldfarb's contact information is:
Address: The Humane Society of the United States, 2100 L St., NW, Washington, DC 20037

Marc Fisher at The Washington Post has shown an interest in this subject generally. His contact information is: E-mail, Phone number 202.334.7563. You can also join the Post's blogs on the various related topic by going directly to its website as discussed in RESPONSE and ARTICLES in a posting below.

The George Washington University Law School runs an excellent Animal Law Center that works on many issues realted to animal welfare and protection in DC. It would be interesting to seek their advice on closing some of the gaps that casued so much time and valuable resources to be spent on this case when it should have been resolved long ago by the usual means. Contact information for the program is:
Animal Law Program
GW Law School
716 20th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20052

This blog is also based on information we have heard and read (n the press and from some of the parties) and is, to the best of our knowledge, true. It contains informaiton we believe is relevant, material and necessary for the purposes of the blog. If anyone knows of anything that contradicts anything herein, please let us know and we will consider publishing it, as we have already.

This Blogger is not connected with any of the parties or dogs in any way. Our concern is purely for saving Sidney and resolving the issues for DC residents in the future. (See also About This Blog posting, below.)

Please post comments or questions under the Comments, Responses, Articles, Cases posting, below. And thank you showing your compassion and understanding by visiting this site for Sidney and all of us. Thank you especially for understanding that animals are living creatures and not toys or property, and that when we have the option, we must opt for life and not death.

More Photos of Sidney

Left Photo: That's Sidney on the left (or is it top?); Right Photo: "This sure beats life on the streets of the Bronx" Sidney

Comments, Responses, Articles, Cases

Although the purpose the the blog is not to get a debate going on the issues involved in the present case, from time to time we will post here (In this posting) or beneath this posting (in the comments) some comments or responses to particularly valuable comments for some time, but only as time permits. But please feel free to respond. At a minimum, I will make sure Eric and Belinda (and others as appropriate) see those comments that are worth reading. And we welcome all comments, positive and negative, the latter because they actually help Sidney's case as you lawyers know. Also, please do not refer to Sidney as a "pitbull" as the Washington Post did. He is a mix with some greyhound, terrier (e.g., pitbull), and God only knows what else in him. I have more pitbull in me some say, and I am half Scot and half French, but most know me as an American. If you are going to tag a label on Sidney, call him a Brooklynite. In the meantime, we are especially interested in constructive comments that will help us strengthen the entire process that brought this matter to where it is today to prevent every aspect of it from happening in the future, going back to July 4th, 10:29 p.m. and a dark street in Adams Morgan.


Those wishing to read two articles related to the case or the subject of the case, please go to:

Washington Post Article on the case of July 27

You may find some of the comments on the Washington Post site of interest, both positive ones and negative ones. Please add your own. (As mentioned above, what the writers of the negative comments do not know, perhaps because they are not attorneys, is that the negative comments actually help Sidney's case.)

New York Times Article (July 23) on Dangerous Dogs
The above article is about the situation in Virginia.

Washingtron Post article (July 30) on Policies on Adopting/Adotping Pitbulls in the Washington Area.
The Washington Post
ran a hearbreaking but somewhat hopeful story today on the plight if pitbulls in the Washington area, "The Rap on Pit Bulls Revisited - Odds Improving for the Good Ones at Area Shelters" By Bill Brubaker, Washington Post Staff Writer, Monday, July 30, 2007; B01. It does support what many people have said about how it's not the dog, but the handler that makes or breaks the dog, and that goes for more than just pitbulls or large dogs. Incidentally, the policy as stated for the District was correctly stated as we understand it: The District tries to adopt out every dog that is adoptable (and I think I heard that it succeeds at that.) However, because there are so many pitbulls coming into that shelter (Did I hear 30 percent of the dogs are pitbulls or mixes and that animal control takes in 12,000 dogs are year? You do the math.), they do not put them through any temperament-behavior testing to determine if they are adoptable (for funding reasons). Therefore, they all are euthanized (but not, of course, those who are claimed by their owners. (A clear catch 22.) It is our hope that this will change with the new executive director, who owns a pitbull herself. We also know that if they started a program here where people could sponsor (i.e., pay for) the behavioral testing of one (or more) pitbull(s) a year (or whatever), we would probably would be the first to sign up. But for political reasons (e.g., one Councilman, Jim Graham, is adamantly against allowing pitbulls in DC), such a program might not be workable. In the meantime, we are totally against the current policy of discriminating on the basis of breed as it is stated and carried out (again, for funding reasons). If there is a problem with people out there, we need to go after that problem, not kill the good dogs that do not deserve to die. The good news is that people (including our animal control people --- are working to resolve these problems, but we are a long way off from a final solution.

There are two other article I am still trying to track down and will post links when I find them:

One article is on how some cities are beginning to rehab unwanted pitbulls for use as police dogs. The second one is called "Why Pitbull [and large dogs in general] Owners are Terrified of Small Dogs." Sidney's case may explain why. (Of course, Sidney is not a pitbull, only half)

Other DC cases We Found.

DC Case 1:

DC Case 2:

DC Case 3:

Thank you for visiting Sidney's site.