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How I Sued My Neighbor and Won- Part 1, by A.E.

The Day

The day it happened, my daughter and I returned to the majestic country estate located somewhere deep in the American Redoubt and witnessed a dog attack of our chickens in progress. My young daughter began screaming while I exited the vehicle with a handgun. The dog ran away and I was unable to engage safely or humanely. There are at least two hens nearby that have given up the ghost. Feathers were all over the area.

Miscreant Tracked to Owner’s Home

I tracked the miscreant through the snow to the owner’s home. Concerned about entering the yard with a loaded weapon, I opted to enter at the driveway instead, while noting that there isn’t a “No Trespassing” sign posted. I also took note of the address. Up the driveway there were three men standing near the home in a conspiratorial huddle.

After clearing the handgun and leaving the slide locked open under my jacket, I waved and hollered to get permission to join them. They asked who I was in a tone that started my spider senses tingling. “Your neighbor” got the permission I asked for. The walk up the driveway revealed trash and other refuse, which indicated a distinct yet unrefined lack of pride from the homeowner. I thought there might be trouble with this encounter but decided I must go on. I’ve been wronged one too many times by owners of man’s best friend.

After introductions, I apologized for bothering them and explained the reason my visit that day. It became clear the men had been drinking and probably not the good stuff. One of the men was standing directly in front of me about ten feet. The other two stood at angles within arm’s reach on either side of me. I’ve seen this once before on patrol when three convicts who had recently been released from prison attempted to overwhelm me in the stairwell of a motel to take my weapon. But that’s another story. I was uneasy, yet my demeanor was calm and unassuming.

Old experiences from the depths of my mind rose and I estimated there was less than a second to make some distance, retrieve the magazine, load and use the Rhodesian drill if it should come to that. Most people assume there will be an announcement when the Zombies are on the way and they can follow some Hollywood script. Survival is an everyday thing.

Grabbing a Weapon

The man to my front became excited and made a movement as if he was grabbing a weapon from under his shirt. The other two men told me not to worry about him because he was drunk. It was disconcerting that this has become a shoot or no shoot situation. I thought, “Will I have to kill one or more persons over chickens? How am I going to explain this to the jury?”

My tunnel vision was on the intoxicated target’s waistband. If there was an object other than his skin under there, I would have been forced to kill him. Peripheral vision was on the other two, and thankfully they didn’t move as I stepped back slightly to gain tactical space. He then brought his empty hand up as if holding a pistol and pointed at me. What a stupid, strange, drunk man he was!

Animal Easily Identified

Next, the men agreed to bring out their pet and shouted toward the home. A woman appeared from the neglected trailer home and began shouting at me. She was a hundred feet away and hadn’t heard our conversation, but she immediately began to call out that the dog has been in the home all day. Also, she said it was loved by Democrats and admired by Unicorns, or something to that effect.

The murderous animal came bounding up and was easily identified as the culprit. The owner’s haggled by offering chicks and were incredulous that my girls could have been worth anything at all.

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I stood my ground both literally and figuratively. I’d be back after getting a full body count and told them I would like compensation. A phone number was offered. The owner was amazed that anyone could memorize a whole phone number without putting it in a cell phone. Perhaps I should have been discussing this matter with the dog instead? We shook hands and I departed. Shortly after there was quite a bit of gunfire coming from their direction. Was this some kind of message or just target practice?

After returning home and consoling my daughter about her hens, a police report was made. The Deputy took the information and advised that this is a civil matter, but he said he would visit the dog owner, get his side of the story, and might issue a warning about failure to restrict the dog’s wanderlust. He said, “Document everything, just in case you want to take the owner to court if he doesn’t make good on the loss of property.” That was good advice.

The Very Next Day

The very next day, the casualty count was in. With a tally of waylaid hens, I had to visit the crass neighbor again. Before chatting so enjoyably with said neighbor, there were things to be done. I spoke with a few folks in the area to verify the name of the dog owner. He might have given a fake name. It seems he had a history of being a scofflaw, and I was warned that he wouldn’t make things right. He might even burglarize my home to get even, if I pursued this matter, since he’d done it before.

Justice for Hens

Armed with this information I called his number. There was no answer. How odd. Next, I legally concealed my weapon, knocked on his door, and stayed off to the side. He remembered to come to the door but forgot his shirt. Apparently, he also remembered his skivvies but not the pants. He wasn’t going to pay any amount for any chicken. I was welcomed to even call the police because they couldn’t do anything. He was right; they couldn’t. So, I said, “I’m sorry to hear that you feel that way. I guess we’ll have to go another direction with this.” Justice for hens is difficult to come by.

Preparing for My Day in Court

The small claims forms were downloaded from the county web site. The directions were sparse yet adequate. It was my first visit to the courthouse and I’m Old School so I wore clean, presentable clothes. Grandma would be proud, especially with the clean underwear in case I get in an accident along the way. The middle age clerk appeared to have a cold and was also rather cold to me. I broke the ice with some sympathetic words. It was not a cold. In fact, it was allergies. The small bit of civilized behavior had won her over. She warmed up and helped me file the forms in short order.

Someone to Serve Papers

Since I was already in town, it was time to find someone to serve the papers as I am not allowed to do so. There was a helpful list of contacts who could assist. However, it wasn’t very helpful after all, because most of the contacts were no longer serving papers, as there’s no money in it. Finally, there was one who was cheerfully willing to perform the service. She was a mom working out of her home, and she had a gorgeous friend sitting at the table with her. After a few questions, they found the chicken-chasing dog owner’s photo on social media by doing the Twitter, or whatever it is that the kids are doing nowadays.

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The mom would serve him the papers this week and didn’t mind filing the required papers with the court after doing so. I was so grateful that I paid in cash without wanting the change back. Small towns and moms with gorgeous friends make me feel generous.

A few days later, the mom called to cheerfully say that the dog owner had been served without her using the pepper spray. With 30 days to respond, he responded just before before the deadline. He claimed that every Social Justice Warrior in the world can swear that his dog was home all day so I must be a liar. We are going to small claims court.

Tomorrow, I will tell you what happened in court.

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SurvivalBlog Writing Contest

This has been part one of a two part entry for Round 77 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:

First Prize:

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Round 77 ends on July 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

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