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Toledo dog owners bark back at council

December 6, 2012
By Jimmy Gillispie - Staff Writer , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

After recently receiving a report about their dogs running loose in September, Jackie Benda-Meeks had several complaints to express to the Toledo City Council and Toledo Police Department.

Benda-Meeks and her husband John Meeks came to the Nov. 26 city council meeting to tell their side of the dog complaint case. It's one they felt strongly about and one they're not backing down from, despite it being a "he said, she said" case.

"This never happened," Benda-Meeks said. "I will swear on my parents' grave on that."

The issue of dogs owned by Benda-Meeks and her husband has been an on-going one with neighbors in Toledo for years. They own six dogs, two rottweilers and four dachshunds, and those dogs have been reported by neighbors as running freely and chasing children a handful of times. The owners have been ticketed by the Toledo Police Department and paid their fines every time.

"We have made our mistakes with them," Benda-Meeks said. "We understand that. We have been fined and we have paid our fines. We knew we were responsible for it."

However, it's the newest one that is now in question. Residents from the neighborhood came to the Nov. 12 city council meeting and complained about the dogs once again. Days later, Benda-Meeks and her husband received a letter from the police department, which included a mention of an incident that happened on Sept. 15. It also stated that the dogs were chasing children at the neighborhood bus stop, according to Benda-Meeks.

"We got a letter about two or three weeks ago saying that one of them was running loose on Sept. 15," Benda-Meeks said. "That never happened and it took them two months to send us a letter. There is where my concern starts, because we are going to fight that.

"My concern, number one, is something that was said in this particular letter or memo," she added. "Secondly, I was suggested to come here by somebody else, who said it would be a good place for me to say what I needed to say to get it on record."

Her husband agreed, saying they wanted to come tell the city council their side of the story. He added that the incident in question didn't happen, because he watches the dog from the back yard when they are outside. They also said the dogs aren't allowed in the back yard unless they watch them since receiving their last ticket.

The reason is their chain-link fence has holes in it that the dogs have escaped through to run loose. They play to fix the fence this summer, if funds are available, and that's what they told the city council last week.

"On these newer complaints that we're having right now, we were there out there," John Meeks said. "We know what the hell happened."

Several of the neighbors were in attendance at the Nov. 26 meeting. They continued to defend their allegations.

Meeks also told the city council that the newest letter from the police came two days after they reported the neighbor's dog running loose in his yard. He said he stopped his dog from attacking the smaller dog after it entered their fence.

"One of the neighbors said to the other neighbor, 'Say what you want to say, I'll back you up,'" Benda-Meeks said. "That's what concerns us at this point. Our dogs have been chained or in the back yard under watch since the last ticket that we took responsibility for."

The dog owners' other complaint was about the letter received from the police department. It said a full investigation was done, but they believe they should have been interviewed to be a full investigation.

"I don't trust the police," John Meeks said. "They are friends with one of our neighbors that have a problem with us. They're in cahoots with each other."

After listening to the owners, city council members responded. "Elmer" Skip Wilson explained how he came to the house with Police Chief Bob Kendall days after the Nov. 12 meeting, where the city council approved sending a notice to contain the dogs.

"Our main desire was to notify them that the dogs are to be contained at all times, either by a chain or a fence," Councilmember Travis Mullen said. "As far as, from our end, that's all we wanted."

Benda-Meeks told the council that she understood and she's said she's done that since the last ticket, which occurred in the late spring or early summer.

"I don't want to get into this kind of fighting all of the time," Benda-Meeks said. "I have lived in that neighborhood for 30 years. Prior to that, I lived there my entire life. It's the house my parents owned and I'm not giving it up."



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