Website begs support for Doberman in biting incident

Owner circulates petition to stop destruction of dog; city says claims are false

By: Heidi Roman | Royal Oak Review | Published February 6, 2012

 Public support for Heidi, a 5-year-old Doberman, has exploded after her owner created a website claiming the city of Royal Oak seeks to destroy the dog after a bite incident. The city says those claims are inaccurate, and officials just want assurance that the owner is taking steps to avoid a future attack.

Public support for Heidi, a 5-year-old Doberman, has exploded after her owner created a website claiming the city of Royal Oak seeks to destroy the dog after a bite incident. The city says those claims are inaccurate, and officials just want assurance that the owner is taking steps to avoid a future attack.

Photo courtesy of www.SaveHeidi.com

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ROYAL OAK — Support for a 5-year-old Doberman pinscher whose owner claims Royal Oak wanted the dog destroyed exploded on social media sites, though the city said it just wanted assurance that steps are being taken to avoid future attacks.

Heidi, an adopted Doberman, bit a stranger outside a market in the city last October, according to reports.

Her owner, Janet Spalding, created a website, www.saveheidi.com, and an online petition seeking support from the public.

According to the website, Heidi was adopted four years ago from a well-established and reputable rescue organization, and is “a very intelligent and energetic dog.”

Police reports say a 45-year-old Warren resident approached a woman holding two leashed Dobermans Oct. 15 outside Fresh Approach market on Campbell Road. The dog owner’s son was inside the store, and his girlfriend was holding the dogs outside.

The victim allegedly asked if the dogs were friendly, and she said they were.

According to reports, as the victim got near the dogs, Heidi jumped up and bit him in the face, causing a small laceration and a broken nose. The victim was transferred to Beaumont Hospital for treatment.

Spalding claims Heidi was startled, and in her excitement, she “popped up at the same time that the stranger bent over to pet her. She collided with his face.”

After an animal control officer investigated the incident, Spalding received two misdemeanor citations, one for the dog bite and one for not having the dog licensed, according to City Attorney Dave Gillam.

Spalding did not respond to requests for comment.

“This is happening to our family with a 30-plus-year history as law abiding Royal Oak residents,” the site claims. “Heidi has no previous incidents of aggressive behavior and is a well-trained, obedient, loving success story of a Doberman rescue.”

On Facebook, some who read Heidi’s story on the website were outraged and moved to sign the petition, and then share the link with friends. The website says Royal Oak is ordering the destruction of the dog.

The site says all dog owners should be aware of the risks of prosecution under “antiquated Michigan statutes written in 1919 and the paranoid overreaction by local city officials who are prosecuting dog breeds, not dog attack cases.”

The petition asks the city to dismiss the charges and “unreasonably harsh penalty.” The petition was spread to many across Facebook and through email.

Since the site went public, Spalding’s case has been resolved in court, Gillam said. She pleaded no contest to the dog bite charge, and the charge of not having the dog licensed was dismissed because she obtained a license within five days.

Gillam said reports that the city was forcing the destruction of the dog were not accurate.

“Contrary to published reports, the city of Royal Oak is not seeking to have the dog destroyed,” Gillam said in a press release.

Gillam said as a condition of Spalding’s plea, Heidi will wear a muzzle when she is taken out in public.

In addition, since Spalding has no prior criminal record, she was given a six-month delayed sentence. If she has no other violations at the end of six months, she can withdraw her plea and the case would be dismissed, Gillam said.


 

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