An idyllic Little Compton community, where dogs control the roads, and the police/town do little about it. Quiet streets where dogs have bitten at least half a dozen neighbors. In 2016 we were …
An idyllic Little Compton community, where dogs control the roads, and the police/town do little about it. Quiet streets where dogs have bitten at least half a dozen neighbors. In 2016 we were bitten, daring to walk our twin infants by Rufus's house, bruised behind, ripped jeans, but the bites didn't break the skin. You might drive home and see blood stains on the road where dogs that have been severely attacked, other neighbors' dogs. There are peaceful streets that countless neighbors have stopped walking on out of fear they or their leashed dog might get mauled, and some resort to carrying bear spray or other protective measures while walking or riding their bikes. I resist giving up these oak-lined lanes, moving my twin six-year-olds to the other side of the street, assuring them that the dog their size would not disfigure them. Yesterday, the twins were not convinced, turning around, and going home when they heard Hudson's bark. Hudson owns the road two houses up from me. He has been regularly leaving his yard and biting a neighbor, harassing us; it is his patch of road. A neighbor finally got the message that she should train her dog; after I called the police, call after call. Finally, the bustling Little Compton police department said they would chat with her. For two or three years, her dog Speck would snarl and bark at my kids and me as they dared to walk on the roads that her yard abuts. Of course, it was always our fault; we were the only ones; we must have done something; Speck is a perfect dog, she says. It took all my restraint not to resort to bear spray, baseball bats, or other protective methods; of course, it is not the dog's fault. I was less than neighborly on a few occasions. A few years earlier, this same address owned two massive dogs, they would terrorize people we talked to along our quiet roads. You never knew if today, was your day when you approached road at their yard. We turned the corner one day to see these owners had decided to bring their massive dogs for a walk on our streets; the bigger dog was barely being held in control by its owner as he snarled, barked, hair up on his back, my wife looked at me, and we knew that if the white knuckled owner lost control, it was terrible news for us.
I'm sure those reading this are wondering why someone has not done something to take back the roads. In January 2020, several families went to the town council to support a neighbor who feared for their grandkid's safety and their sanity; we spoke of the issues and troubles, a motion was made, and the matter was referred to the bustling Little Compton police department. Yet, two years later, more people have been bitten or harassed, and two are now charged with being rightfully angry, upset, and not being civil. Could it because they dislike being repeatedly harassed by dogs?
There is so much history in these events that Mr. Hayes's story does not cover; I hope he takes a deep look at the lack of response from the police, the town's resistance to effective dog laws, and the long history of bites, harassment, and other issues dog owners cause in Little Compton. Anyone with a complete understanding of the history and continued lack of response by the police over dog issues would find the charges filed for un-neighborly behavior to be an overreach. I know all too well, we tried to follow up on our bite case, wanting a dangerous dog order, but the police were too busy to meet with me. Meanwhile, the dogs still own our oak-lined, peaceful, and almost walkable streets; BYOB, bring your own bear spray.
Andrew Rhyne, Ph.D.