ALBERTVILLE, Ala. - Video of a dog in heavy rain in a man's backyard in Marshall County has created a huge load of phone calls and complaints for local police and the animal control officer.
The situation has been resolved. The dog has had shelter since Wednesday, August 19, thanks to 2nd Chance Animal Shelter in Boaz.
That's the same day a viewer posted video on the WHNT News 19 Facebook page to ask us to do something about the situation.
Since then, the video has gone viral -- the man's initial video has been viewed more than 484,000 times. Calls have poured in to the Albertville Police Department, the Marshall County Sheriff's Office and WHNT News 19 from people demanding help for the dog and punishment for the dog's owner. Some callers have made threats against officers, we've learned -- and many of the calls haven't been local.
"I talked with one lady from Ohio who said she wished I was dead," an Albertville police officer said.
What's been done about the situation
WHNT News 19 called Albertville Police and the Marshall County Sheriff's Office to see where the investigation stands.
The residence is outside of the Albertville city limits and falls in the jurisdiction of the Marshall County animal control officer.
WHNT News 19 spoke with the animal control officer, Kevin Hooks, about how the situation unfolded.
Hooks said he worked with 2nd Chance Animal Shelter, who went to the home on Wednesday with a dog house. They 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.
Hooks said a veterinarian also examined the dog and determined it is in good health.
"Thanks for bringing out this doghouse to this beautiful dog that had been without shelter," the neighbor 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 Second Chance people for making it happen."
The back story
Court records show the dog's owner and the man who posted the video on Facebook have been in a legal feud for the last few years, with claims of harrassment. There are multiple court cases in the Marshall County court system involving the two men, Albertville's City Magistrate office confirmed.
In fact, just earlier this month one swore out a warrant against the other man's wife for harassment.
Another complaint involves one man's dogs barking at the other man's cats. In one event, the man who recorded the video of the dog in the rain was accused of putting antifreeze in his yard as an intimidation tactic, according to Kevin Hooks, Marshall County's animal control officer. Hooks removed the antifreeze and warned the man not to do it again.
The latest development was the man recording video of his neighbor's dog in the rain. He called the Marshall County Sheriff's Office, who sent Hooks to check on the situation. Hooks is not a law enforcement officer, and told the man if he wanted to pursue criminal charges, he should file a report.
The man did that. The Marshall County magistrate reviewed it, while also considering the longstanding legal dispute between the two men. The magistrate met with the District Attorney's Office and the animal control officer to review the matter.
"It was a group decision that we couldn't go with legal action," said Hooks. "Instead, we helped resolve this peacefully."
Hooks said he counseled the dog's owner to make sure the dog has a dog house, proper food and water. 2nd Chance Animal Shelter took a dog house there on Wednesday, August 19.
Hooks said the owner was receptive of the information, receptive of the dog house and appreciative of the counseling and gift of the dog house.
"We consider the situation resolved," said Hooks.
The accused family's side of the story
WHNT News 19 spoke off-camera with a member of the family accused of poorly treating the dog 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 feud between the neighbors.
He also says the dog showed up at their home around two 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 once 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 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.