ALBERTVILLE, Ala. – After a video of a dog in heavy rain in a man’s backyard in Marshall County went viral with over a half-million plays, both authorities and people close to the situation want the firestorm around the video to die down.
Earlier this week, a video posted to the WHNT News 19 Facebook wall, which has since been deleted, showed a dog chained to a tree during a downpour. That video sparked animal activists to call and voice concerns to local police, the sheriff's office, and the animal control officer. Most of the calls demanded help for the dog and punishment for the dog’s owner. Some callers even made threats against officers, we’ve learned — and many of the calls weren't local.
“I talked with one lady from Ohio who said she wished I was dead,” an Albertville police officer said.
The situation has been resolved. The dog has had shelter since Wednesday, August 19, thanks to 2nd Chance Animal Shelter in Boaz.
What’s been done about the situation
The Marshall County animal control officer told us he worked with 2nd Chance Animal Shelter, who went to the home on Wednesday with a dog house. Shelter workers also spoke with the dog’s owner to counsel him that the dog must have food, shelter and water. The animal control officer said the dog’s owner was very appreciative and receptive of the counseling. He said a veterinarian also examined the dog and determined it is in good health, though the person who shot the video questions that claim.
“Thanks for bringing out this doghouse to this beautiful dog that had been without shelter,” the neighbor who shot the video posted to Facebook. "Today I saw the owners feeding the dog. Thank goodness. I saw Albertville Police come to talk to them so maybe they got the message and will take better care of their pets. Thanks to the 2nd Chance people for making it happen.”
Why the video was posted
That's the kind of help the man who shot the video told us he wanted in the first place. Though he acknowledged there has been an ongoing conflict between him and the dog owner dating back to at least 2010, he says that all the problems stem from his neighbor's treatment of animals.
After shooting the video, he called the Marshall County Sheriff’s Office, who sent the animal control officer to check on the situation. The animal control officer, who is not a law enforcement officer, told the man if he wanted to pursue criminal charges, he should file a report.
The man did that. According to a Marshall County District Attorney, a magistrate reviewed it, while also considering the longstanding legal dispute between the two neighbors. The magistrate met with the District Attorney’s Office and the animal control officer to review the matter. He said a group decision was made to not pursue any legal action at that time.
After learning of the firestorm the video created, the man who shot the video decided to delete it from WHNT News 19's wall, removing the ability for it to be further shared or viewed. He said he never intended for the video to take off like it did and certainly didn't want any threats at violence towards authorities or the dog owner. When he spoke to us, he said he is a pacifist who loves animals.
Since deleting the video, law enforcement in Albertville and Marshall County tell us the call volume into their offices about this video has dropped drastically and officers are no longer receiving threats.
The Marshall County animal control officer will continue to monitor the situation, but he says he's not concerned about its treatment at this time.
The accused family’s side of the story
WHNT News 19 spoke off-camera with a member of the family accused of treating the dog poorly by chaining it up in their yard without shelter. The man tells us the video is not as it seems to those not knowledgeable about the conflict between the neighbors.
He also says the dog showed up at their home several weeks ago and was malnourished. He said they have been feeding it and it looks much better now, but they believe it belonged to another family because it had a collar. They don’t know who the original owners are or if they will claim the dog back. But this family tells WHNT News 19 they will continue to care for it because they’ve come to love it.
We’re told the family had originally put up a makeshift shelter for the dog, but the dog destroyed it. They tell us they’re thankful 2nd Chance Animal Shelter brought a real doghouse. The family also appears to be keeping the dog on the porch now too.
The family adds, this has actually been a scary situation for them, too. They say strangers have been knocking on their door, trying to take the dog off their hands or buy it from them. They also claim some of those people have become a bit aggressive.