Monday, January 25, 2016

Complaints to Animal Control Leave Neighbor Barking Up Wrong Tree

This post first appeared on January 3.  On January 24, it was reverted to a draft and rescheduled to post at 9:30 on the morning of the 25th.

Editor's note:  Comments the moderator previously chose not to allow, are now posted.

Original Post Begins Here:

This all started last June.

There is a house to the north of mine and one to the south.  The house to the north has a little yippy dog and for some reason, it started barking every time the owners left the house, until they returned sometimes more than an hour later.  Even though the dog was in the house with the windows shut, it could be clearly heard throughout the area.  Animal Control Officer Gail Petras was there to hear it herself on at least one occasion.  Officer Petras was able to work with these owners and the barking soon stopped, completely.

(As I learned from Officer Petras, they are over worked and under staffed at Animal Control.  Officer Petras is the only full time ACO and she has only one, part time helper.  No one has ever answered the phone there when I've called.)

The home to the south has several large dogs that were moved out of the house and into a kennel, located at the rear of the approx. two acre property, easily more that 100 yards from mine.  By my best guess, this move outside occurred in June; this is when the problem barking began.  Abandoned far from the home in which they once lived, the dogs occupy their time and express their loneliness by barking.  (Hey, I'd bark, too.)

(This video is just one small snapshot of the on-going
situation.  No one is going to watch the whole thing;
the first few minutes will give you the picture.)

The barking, from both houses, wasn't intermittent or brief, (which would have been tolerable), it was prolonged, loud and on a near daily basis; it was intolerable; and a nuisance.  I started calling Animal Control.  On more than one occasion, I placed the call on speaker phone where the barking was picked up and recorded, in her voice mail.

In September, Officer Petras asked me to keep a log.  I began the log on Sept. 12 and sent the first report to her on Sept. 29th.  She replied; "I received your log.  I am going to check in with them for a follow up visit. I will keep you posted.  Gail".  For months I have faithfully and patiently kept that log, periodically submitting it.  But, that was the last time I heard from her.

Since September, she has received no less than seven log reports documenting fifty or so days of barking, and some 61 calls from June 22 to December 16th.  A number of these calls were made with the use of speaker phone; the barking being so loud, it could be picked up and clearly heard over the phone from one hundred yards away!

The barking from the house to the south was then, and remains yet today, a nuisance problem.  It has involved dog fights, barking at 3:00 AM and barking at 4:13 AM thru 4:45 AM on the morning of Dec. 26!

In early December, not having heard a single word from Officer Gail Petras since September, and with the barking continuing, I had had enough and asked Councilman "Bob" to see what he could do.  Councilman "Bob" contacted Officer Petras and relayed to me on December 9th that Petras emphasized the importance of keeping a record, which I have been doing all along, and that Gail "was working on the situation".  (Seriously!)

On December 9th, another log was sent to Petras, dating from the fourth, which included an entry from the 8th, in which the dogs barked for an hour and forty five minutes!  This log was cc'd to Councilman "Bob".  In it, I indicated that I had had enough and if this was not stopped promptly, my complaints would make their way to the chief of police and elsewhere.  (How much more tolerant and patient is one expected to be?)

About noon time on Dec. 14th, I observed Officer Petras speaking to one of the occupants of the house to the south and though; "Finally, this is going to end".

Two days later, on Wednesday the 16th of December, sadly, the dogs were again barking uncontrollably.  On that day, at 12:02 PM I again called Animal Control.  The dogs were again barking uncontrollably; with the phone on speaker mode I left a message to the effect that; evidently, her visit on Monday didn't do any good, saying that, "you can here that barking, can't you?"  My frustration must have shown through.

Later that afternoon, around 4:15, Sgt. Mazzotta paid me a visit.  He wanted to talk to me about the message that I left for Petras, earlier that day.

In no particular order:

A)  He said that Animal Control was under staffed and blamed the Common Council for not appropriating the funds to hire more AC officers.  I knew they were understaffed, which was why I was so patient for the last six months.

B)  Mazzotta also said dog bite calls take priority over barking noise complaints.  Yeah, OK, I get that, but for six months there were so many dog bites that this matter couldn't be resolved?  The way he spoke, you would think that Middletown is overrun with packs of roaming dogs attacking people!  (I searched for “dog bite” in the Middletown Press found and not one report in the last year.)

 C)  When I pointed out that this had gone on for so long and remained unresolved that I felt it necessary to contact Councilman "Bob".  He replied, "Oh, so you and "Bob" are "good friends"? Well, I'm friends with “Bob”, too", he said.  Twice he used the term "good friends" in reference to my relationship with the councilman.  It seemed odd that he would use the term "good friends" in "that" tone of voice.  I replied simply that we were friends and went on to mention that "Bob" had contacted Petras about the matter.  The Sergeant replied in effect, "Yeah, he sent an email", as if that somehow didn't qualify as "contact".

D)   He went on to say that Petras had sat in front of the house in question on numerous occasions and not heard any barking.  If that is so, why did I not hear it from Petras; why am I hearing it from him?  I thought Petras was too busy with the packs of wild dogs running around and biting people, to deal with a noise complaint.  Evidently, she has time to sit in front of someone's house, but no time to contact me.

E)  Mazzotta also said that Petras had spoken to the owners of the dogs and had seen the dogs wearing barking control collars.  If they are bark control collars, they are not working.  And, if that is the case, why am I hearing it after months of complaining, and from Mazzotta and not Petras?  Questions: did she see the collars up close and personal so as to be certain they actually were bark control collars; did she examine the collars to see that they had batteries and that they were actually turned on?  Or did she observe them from a distance and just take the owner's word for what they were?

F)  Mazzotta went on to ask why it was that I was the only one complaining.  How the hell should I know that?  (Given how I was treated for complaining, it's no wonder no one else does.) How do I know that that is even true?  He then implied that my complaints "might" be because of a dispute between neighbors and that I “might” be making it up to get them in trouble.  Really?  I have much better things to do with my time than make up phony complaints and carry it on for over six months.  Does he have any idea how much of my time has gone into faithfully keeping a log and making reports by phone or how much of a nuisance the constant and prolonged barking is?  Really?

As far as I know, I’m the only one to complain about the dog barking at the house to the north and Officer Petras managed to put an end to that.  I’m also the only one to complain about All-Waste picking up the dumpster in front of a house further to the north, at 2 AM.  That also stopped after I complained.  I’m also the only one to complain about loud music coming from that same house, and that ended; also after I complained.  Honestly, I can’t help but wonder myself, why am I’m the only one to complain about these things which effect quality of life.  (There are three kinds of people in the world; sheep, wolves and sheepdogs; maybe that explains it.)

G)  Sgt. Mazzotta told me there was no difference between a barking dog complaint and a loud music complaint; that someone would have to come out and measure the decibel level in order to have a valid, actionable complaint.  Really?

Why have I not heard that from Officer Petras?  Maybe because it is not true?  There is nothing in Chapter 206 of the City Ordinances to that effect. .  In fact, § 206-4 Nuisances,  states: "Nothing in any portion of this article shall in any manner be construed as authorizing or legalizing the creation or maintenance of a nuisance, and compliance of a source with this article is not a bar to a claim of nuisance by any person."  This constant barking, month after month after month seems to clearly constitute a "nuisance".

H)  Twice, the sergeant told me that "he" would not tolerate any more of my phone calls to Animal Control; that they were "unprofessional".  Twice.  He did not say that my complaints were in violation of any statute or ordinance, only that "he" would not tolerate it.  He didn't define what he meant by that.  Given that he said it twice and the tone of it, I have to wonder if his visit was something other than professional, itself.

When I mentioned that it was "unprofessional" to have complained for months about an ongoing nuisance and to never have had a response from Officer Petras, he again mentioned that my barking complaints were a low priority and that she didn't have time to address them.  I refer back to D); Officer Petras has time to sit in front of someone's house but no time to give me a call.

He also said that the barking heard in the background of the message left for Petras could have come from the TV or off the internet!  "I'm not saying that is what you did . . .", but the inference was there.   Evidently, he heard the last voice mail I left, but not the dozens of others, many of which were also left via speaker phone, with dogs barking in the background.

I)  Lastly, Sgt. Mazzotta asked to see the log I kept of all the barking.  I offered to show it to him, and mentioned that it was on my computer and that I had kept the emails I had sent to Petras.  At this he scoffed, saying that "emails are not a log; a log is when you write something down on paper ".  Really?

He then asked me to write it down on paper and deliver it to him at the police station.  He gave he a piece of paper with instructions on it; "Date time bark began time bark ended". (sic)  At this time, I saw no point in telling him that that information is exactly what was in the emailed logs that I sent to Petras over the last three (now going on four) months.

Something about this whole visit from Mazzotta just didn't set well with me.  The more I thought about it, the more "off" it seemed.  Could this have been an attempt to intimidate me into shutting up?  If so, it failed.  I decided that I would follow through and Sgt. Mazzotta would get his log, but it would be on my terms, not his.

Mazzotta will get his log, but it is going to go through Chief McKenna, first.  It will contain details not included, here.  No doubt, I will hear more about it.  I realize too, that it is possible that I have made myself a target for retaliation, but I'm willing to risk the chance.  We will see.   Happy New Year.


In retaliation for complaining about the dogs barking at 603 E. Main St., and for this post, (which had nothing to do with her), my neighbor, Bernice Rosa, filed an ex parte Civil Protection Order against me on January 13th., the day after my 58th birthday; perhaps my last.  Docket # CV 16-4020267.  (You can see a copy of the complaint at the end of this article.)

There is no question in my mind that she did this in a conspiracy with; or at the urging of, her husband, Marcus Keilch, owner of Marcus Anthony Construction.

The hearing was today, and the judge threw it out on it's ear.
While I provided document after document to support my case, Ms. Rosa failed to provide any evidence to support the allegations made in her statement given for the ex parte order, while admitting that I had never threatened her.  And, I was able to show that she committed perjury in her complaint.  Her husband, Marcus Keilch, sat silent in the court room and offered no testimony on behalf of his wife.  He let her hang out to dry and take the full brunt of any legal repercussions, whilst protecting himself.

She did, however, call to the stand Animal Control Officer Gail Petras.  Under oath and in uniform, during cross examination Petras stated that she failed to respond to my complaints, from September 29, 2015 until January 4, 2016 because she was "busy".  And then, she respond only after I complained to the Chief of Police about it and Sgt. Mazzotta's attempt to intimidate me into shutting up.

I have to wonder why it is that she agreed to testify in a matter involving a dispute between two neighbors.  I didn't think to ask her while she was on the stand, but I'm curious to know if she was subpoenaed, or not.  If so, then she was compelled to appear and probably acted in accordance with her official duties.

(Officer Petras was subpoenaed, after all)

If she was not subpoenaed; if she volunteered to testify in a matter that involved fallacious claims of "stalking" Rosa and her family, spying on her in the middle of the night, and trespassing and hiding in the bushes to film her and her children; matters not of concern to Animal Control, I have to wonder if her presence was not outside the scope of her duties?

If Petras' presence and testimony in court today were outside the scope of her duties; a) why was she in uniform, b) did she get paid by the city for her time in court, or c) did she take personal time off from work in order to testify?

Another question that comes to mind is; if over a period of more than three months she was too busy to respond to my complaints, how is it she had time to spend time in court today, absent a subpoena?

In the course of this writers' investigation, it's been discovered that Rosa and Keilch have a long history of  destroying people's lives, seemingly with impunity.  (This isn't called The Middletown "Insider" for nothing)  The two of them are not much, if any, better than Bonnie and Clyde.  She has bragged to me that she could get anyone she wanted arrested; he has bragged that for $10,000, he could get someone killed via the illegal aliens he hires.

I stated the same in a written statement given to Officer Drapala in April of 2015 in reference to case # 14-28554 in which Rosa and Keilch had a business associate arrested under what I believe to be false pretenses for stealing a scooter and embezzling funds from them.  Because of that statement, Officer Drapala was able to recover property belonging to the accused' wife, which were wrongful in their possession.

I also discovered, (I have a PI friend and sources "inside" law enforcement), the existence of numerous police reports in both Westbrook and Old Saybrook, going back years, concerning the harassment of a young couple, by Keilch and Rosa.

Because I am not an involved party, and because of the deeply personal nature of the reports, my request for copies has been denied, but their existence confirmed.  I've yet to decide whether or not to pursue a Freedom of Information Act request.

On December 20, 2014 I sent a letter, certified return receipt, to Captain Wallace, head of the investigative division of the Middletown Police Department, expressing a concern for my own safety at the hand of Marcus Keilch, up to and including having me killed.  At about the same time, a letter was sent to the State's Attorney, regarding case # 14-28554.

They seem to do this for sport and with impunity, but no more; this reign of terror must end.  They mistook my love and affection for weakness.  They were wrong.  If I die exposing the truth and bringing about justice for others, then I will have died well.

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