I don't know if I mentioned this, but these neighbors also have a dog.
We first noticed the dog this summer, when the constant and ceaseless barking added to the cacophony of noise coming from the other side of the fence. We thought nothing of it. Dogs bark, and it's annoying, and you just sort of endure it.
But, one night, Steven and I started hearing this terrible half-howl, half-cry. The spine-chilling noise turned out to be coming from their dog, and sounded like the animal was injured. I thought perhaps she'd broken her leg or her leash got hung up on something. We went in and called the police to try to get someone to come out and help the dog, assuming that the owners were perhaps out. When we went back outside, half intending to go over the fence and see what we could do, we heard our backdoor neighbor come out and yell, "You stop that, puppy! That's enough!"
After that, I heard the sound of something hitting a living creature at high velocity. I don't know if he was hitting her with a belt, or with his hand, but it wasn't just once, and it wasn't just a "newspaper-on-the-nose" tap.
Furious, Steven and I went back inside.
Over the next few days, a few peeks over the fence revealed that:
1) This dog has no shelter.
2) This dog is tied to a fence post by a plastic-covered steel rope/cable that is so mangled and knotted, it looks like a cord of Christmas tree lights after being jumbled in several subsequent moves.
3) The dog has no food.
4) The dog has no water.
The fourth one worried us the most, as it was (at that time) still over 100F during the day, and Texas was (and still is) suffering one of the worst droughts in recorded history. Steven began giving Winston (which we decided to call the dog, after the character in 1984) drinks of water from our garden hose through a gap in the wooden fence whenever we would go out to smoke at night. She drank and drank and drank, every single time. At one point, Steven even forgot to check the temperature of the water, and the dog cried while thirstily gobbling down water until Steven realized the water was scalding hot.
That's how thirsty the dog was. Thirsty enough to drink water so hot that it burned Steven's hand.
(He immediately went and turned the water up long enough to blast all of the hot water out of the hose.)
In addition, we also saw the children torment the dog on several occasions. The first time, Steven said they had food on plates, but kept telling the dog, "No, puppy. Stop choking yourself." That's right. The dog was so hungry and trying so desperately to get at the food that she was straining against the rope and her collar and choking itself.
On another sweltering day, we were outside smoking and one of the kids said to the other, "Hey, do you guys want some water?" He went in and brought out bottles of Evian for himself and his friends. Did the dog get any water despite obvious whimpers and begging? Not in the slightest.
We were disgusted.
And we called Animal Control. Repeatedly.
However, as I have recently learned, Animal Control in this city consists of four overworked and inefficient officers who have very little budget.
About a week later, I was sitting at my desk, when once again I heard shrieking. This annoyed me because Steven had just fallen asleep. He's been extremely ill for the past few months and unable to work. For much of this time, he hovered at around or even below 100lbs, and has vomited profusely each day. He has horrible upper abdominal pain, and sleeps only rarely due to his medications and the fact that whenever he wakes up, the vomiting is the worst.
(He's still in a lot of pain, but hasn't thrown up for almost two weeks.)
But, I digress. He had just fallen asleep when I heard shrieking. I went outside to find the kids jumping on that goddamn trampoline at 9:30pm. I went up to the fence and said:
"Hey. It's 9:30 at night. Quiet the fuck down. My fiance is very ill and doesn't need this shit."
(I know. It's not nice to use those expletives at children. But, I was fed up. COMPLETELY fed up.)
To which one of the kids on the trampoline replied, "You shut up, lady! Hey, you shut up!"
They quieted down after that, nonetheless, and I went around front to finish my cigarette. It was there that I discovered a note hanging on our door from Animal Control. It said:
"The animal in question is properly cared for and has been vaccinated."
And that is what prompted an exclamation of, "BULLSHIT!!!" so loud that I'm pretty sure the entire cul-de-sac heard it.
So, what could we do? We continued to sneak the dog water and bits of food when we could. I asked around for other options, but everyone seemed to go back to the same thing, "Call the police." or "Call animal control", both of which had dismissed the problem.
A few days later, a similar scenario played out. Once again, Steven was finally asleep when I heard a ruckus coming from the back yard. I slipped outside and went to the fence, but this time just stood there listening for a while. And what I saw made me livid.
Three big kids (I mean chubby 10 and 11 year olds) had a hold of that dog's rope and were going, "One. Two. Three. HEAVE!" And then they'd drag the dog around the yard by her throat.
(Oh. Yes. We found out that Winston was female at some point during this ongoing fiasco.)
I immediately called over the fence: "Hey! What are you kids doing?"
A little chubby face appeared pressed to the slats of the wood fence. "We're playing with the dog."
"Are you yanking on the dog's leash?"
"Yeah, lady. We're playing with it."
At this point, I had to crouch down to get eye-to-eye with this kid, and I hissed, "How would you like it if someone put you on a leash and yanked you around the yard?"
I stormed off after this, leaving the kid to go crying to the adult who had just come outside that I was interfering with them "playing with the dog", and whining about how I had called Animal Control. "They said we have to give the dog water EVERY day."
What. The. Fuck?
A few evenings later, yet another weird noise caught my attention. I IMed Steven to see if he could hear it in his office too, and when he asked me what it sounded like, all I could respond was...
"Well, it...uh...sounds like a moose fart."
Not that I've ever exactly heard a moose fart, but if I had, I would think it would sound like this.
We went outside to find that the sound was, of course, coming from Winston. It was something between a cough and a bark, a strange strangled noise that made me worry she had something caught in her throat. As I approached the fence to get a good look...
Suddenly, Winston was in our yard.
Yes, in her excitement to see me and Steven, she'd pushed aside a loose fence slat and burst through to our yard. We were completely overwhelmed by the sudden appearance of this very large, very happy dog, which probably, I now estimate, weighs about as much as Steven. But, this also posed a problem. The dog was too happy. She was jumping on Steven and I, licking us, wagging not only her tail but her whole body. But, she was also dragging the steel cable around, getting it caught around our feet.
And that's how I ended up stumbling backwards, causing a nail to poke not only though my flip-flop, but also quite a good ways into my foot.
I was sort of shocked by this, and was trying to help Steven get the dog to calm down while simultaneously getting my foot off of the nail. It was a fiasco of dog and ouch and, because of it being a cold (almost 34F) night, we couldn't see anything. In the end, I had to rush inside, wash and wrap my foot, and then rush back out to grab the dog (who Steven had, impressively, calmed with only the power of his voice) to put her back through the fence. But, before I did, I felt at her throat for any large lumps. I'd worried she'd swallowed a toy.
Later we realized that Winston does not have any toys. Her throat was wounded by those kids and their little "game".
I limped inside after we secured the fence and we washed out the nail-hole with soap and water (OW) and wrapped up my foot. The next morning I got a tetanus shot, and I limped around for a few days, but am otherwise okay.
We called the police, once again, to report the dog's distress, but they seemed even less interested than before, "Someone from Animal Control will check on it tomorrow."
Somehow, I doubted that.
The most recent development is that we have begun to discover palm-sized rocks on our deck. Now, seeing as we had no rocks on our deck before, and there aren't generally rocks that fall out of the sky...this was unusual. Steven pointed it out to me this morning after I discovered (in an unrelated life annoyance) that our water heater has sprung some sort of leak and irrigated the bottoms of most of the boxes in our garage.
As far as we can tell, the kids have been pitching rocks at our house as they jump on the trampoline. It's exactly the correct trajectory. There's a pretty obvious new crack in the siding just below Steven's office window. We're just lucky they didn't break a window.
It seems they are giving the dog food now (a pile of it in the dirt), and possibly water (I see a dish, but it's always empty, so I guess she drinks it all pretty quickly -- which tells me it isn't enough water.) But, I am worried still. Winter is coming, and she has no shelter. Not only that, but she is still coughing and making the "moose fart" noise and probably needs medical attention.
So, at this point, I don't know what to do. I've called Animal Control AND the police repeatedly. Everyone I ask, even animal assistance organizations, point me back to Animal Control, which has proven ineffective. And now the children have started to become a danger to my family and my property.
This. Is Why. Humans. Do Not Deserve. This Planet.
(Oh, as a side note, I did some researching on the occupants of this house. And by that, I mean I looked up their names in the tax records and checked out their Facebook profiles. I know all their names, the names of their family members, their license plate numbers, their hobbies, their jobs, oh...and most interestingly, what church they go to and which church groups they "lead". That's right. They are Hardcore For Jesus. One of the profiles even says, "Jesus is my world."
Really? Do you not remember the part that says, "Whatever you do unto the least of these, you do unto me?"
Some time ago, I wrote about my neighbors, who have recently acquired a trampoline and erected it about two feet from our back fence. This has become a nuisance because there are constantly hordes of shrieking children over there, whose faces pop up above our fence while we're outside smoking. (No, we're not smoking anywhere near said children, but on the complete opposite side of the yard.)