It was a typical day at the Maines household in the Copperfield area of Houston, TX. Seven children ranging in age from 6-18 rustled around the house, enjoying the spring afternoon. Family dogs Harley, Quinn, Vixen, and Pooh Bear were hanging out as usual, enjoying the constant source of love, attention, and commotion that a big family provides.
Tanner, age 12, was having a couple of friends over. Like all children at play, Tanner and his friends were in and out of the house and yard, enjoying their day and playing out and about in the neighborhood. During one of the trips out of the yard, Tanner and friends haphazardly left the gate to their fenced yard ajar. Following the children like most family dogs would, Harley and Quinn escaped and made their way out into the neighborhood.
By the time Lucille Maines noticed the dogs were missing, they were a few houses away, looking for the kids. Lucille called out to Harley and Quinn who promptly returned. Tanner came back to the house a few minutes after the dogs had returned and told his parents that a neighbor had called the police to report Harley and Quinn were running loose.
Approximately thirty minutes later the Maines’ were visited by a Harris County animal control officer. He was there to present Zack and Lucille Maines with a citation for “dogs at large” and for not being in compliance with local animal control ordinances. The citation noted that neither Harley nor Quinn had been registered and were not up to date on vaccinations.
Knowing the citation was incorrect Lucille Maines contacted the local animal control office the following morning. The dogs had certainly been loose for a short time but were definitely registered and vaccinated as required by law. After providing the clerk at animal control proof that both dogs were in compliance the clerk instructed Lucille to disregard the citation and the Maines thought the matter was closed.
But it wasn’t over. On April 15, Zack and Lucille Maines were served with a complaint and surrender notice that stated Harley must be turned over to the local animal control office within days.
During Harley and Quinn’s short outing on April 10, a neighbor just a few houses away had reported them as dangerous dogs. He claimed that the dogs were roaming the streets and that the “white Pit Bull with the black head had charged him barking and growling”. The neighbor further stated in his report that he swung a hose at the dog. The dog then “stopped charging toward him and went off down the street away from his house”. (See the original statement in the image section of this article.)
The Maines had five days to surrender Harley to authorities.
Harley, a three and half year old Pit Bull mix has no history of aggression. Quite the contrary, he is quite the model dog.
Zackary and Lucille Maines found Harley in a Craig’s list ad when he was just eight weeks old. They fell in love with him immediately and took him in to be a part of their already large family of children and pets.
Soon after coming to live with the Maines’, Harley broke with Parvo and was very ill. Lucille Maines spend five days and five nights caring for Harley as he struggled to live through the deadly viral infection that ravaged his small body. But Harley was strong, determined, and much loved by Lucille, Zack, and all of their children. Harley survived and flourished.
By the time Harley was six months old he was in training with well known dog trainer Erwin Valderramos at My Dog Has Class. (Click here to see Harley's training exercises) Always eager to learn something new Harley is a quick study and wants nothing more than to please his family.
“Harely’s intelligence, patient, and calm demeanor are far superior to that of the average dog,” according to Zack Maines. “Harley serves as a poster child for what a dog should be. He’s always so in control of himself.”
Whether Harley actually barked or growled at the neighbor in an aggressive manor has not yet been proven. No witnesses have stepped forward to back the neighbor’s story. But according to the county ordinance, nothing had to be proven for the complaint to be filed citing Harley as a “dangerous dog”. All it takes is for someone to simply make the complaint. Nothing had to be proven for the authorities to demand that Harley be turned over to the township where he will await a hearing on whether he is actually a dangerous dog, or not.
Family, friends, and neighbors are all shocked at the complaint. Most have known Harley his entire life and cannot believe that he would become aggressive with anyone.
Long time neighbor Raven doesn’t believe Harley became aggressive at all. “I have known Harley since he was a tiny puppy,” said Raven, who lives next door to the Maines with her year and a half old daughter, Maddy. “He’s the gentlest, loving, and in control animal I have ever met. When Maddy was a tiny baby he would lick her toes and make her giggle. He runs up to my mother every time he sees her and slobbers her all over with doggie kisses. He even gets along with all of my dogs.”
Raven says that Harley stayed with her at her family fireworks stand during the last July 4 holiday season and was friendly to everyone he met. “He was at the (firework) stand every night but one last year and he never barked or was aggressive with anyone. And the one and only night he wasn’t there, we got robbed.”
On April 21, broken hearted Zack Maines surrendered Harley to Harris County Animal Control where he awaits a hearing set for April 25.
When Zack arrived at the animal control shelter Harley was his usual docile and loving self, showing no fear of his surroundings. “Even the animal control officers were having a hard time believing Harley had to be brought in,” said Zack. “It was really hard to leave my boy there. We really love him. He is part of our family and it’s just not fair to him.”
During the hearing it will be determined by the court whether or not Harley is a “dangerous” dog. If declared so, the Maines, a working class family with seven children at home, will have to go to great expense to bring Harley home. Even though he is prominently and indoor dog his time outdoors will require a special enclosure. A dangerous dog registration will have to be paid to the tune of $100.00 per year. And if that’s not enough, the family will be forced to acquire a $100,000.00 liability policy that will cost several thousand dollars a year.
Zack, a mechanic by trade, and Lucille, who works for the public school system, have no idea how they will afford such expenses but are determined to make it work no matter what the outcome of the hearing is.
You can follow Harley's story and show your support by visiting Harley's Facebook page at Harley Has Class.