Neighbor's dog killed, owners seeking change in city ordinance
Feb. 7, 2011 at 5:02 p.m.
Updated Feb. 6, 2011 at 8:07 p.m.
A few days after Julie Kallman found her dog, Red, mauled to death in her backyard, a note from Santa remained on the family's kitchen table.
"Piper, Thanks for your note. Do you love Red? I'm alive as long as you believe," the note read.
As her family works through their grief, Kallman is working to have the city adopt an ordinance limiting the number of pets a person can own.
She believes the pet was killed by one of her neighbor Mark Tisdale's six dogs.
The city does not limit the number of pets a person can own.
"You've gotta try for an ordinance change, so he didn't just die in vain," she said.
Kallman had rescued Red, a Chihuahua and dachshund mix, from the Dorothy O'Connor Pet Adoption Center just before Christmas. The dog quickly became a member of the Kallman family, especially for 9-year-old Piper, whose crimson hair had also earned her the nickname, "Red."
"He was a godsend, a very well-behaved dog," Kallman said. "We just fell in love with him instantly."
Kallman is now struggling with the guilt of leaving the dog in the family's spacious backyard on Jan. 28, the day she found him cold and struggling for breaths in her backyard.
At least one of Tisdale's six dogs had busted through the neighbors' adjoining fences and attacked Red 10 days earlier.
"My dogs have been acting silly," Tisdale said. "They've been digging through the fence, and I've been trying to do something to rectify the situation."
The Kallmans and Tisdales concede they had been working together to solve the problem of the six Siberian Husky mixes escaping the Tisdale's backyard.
"My beef has never been with (Tisdale). We've been very nice and respectful, as far as patiently waiting on him to fix this," Kallman said. "And now something's been killed."
After the first attack on Red, which left a quarter-inch gash near his neck, Tisdale put up electric wire along the bottom border of his fence. He stopped short of stretching the full length of the fence because a bush needed to be uprooted, and Tisdale had the flu, he said.
Instead, he put up cement blocks to keep his dogs from getting back into the Kallman's yard.
Tisdale and his wife neither confirm nor deny their dogs were the ones who actually killed Red and said their dogs were in their backyard the day he died.
"I'm not shrugging responsibility of the dog situation," Tisdale said. "I want to do what I can do to remedy this between me and my neighbor, but there are extenuating circumstances."
Tisdale said he and his wife have not been able to sleep since receiving three voice mails from Jeff Kallman the night Red was killed, in which strong language and provoking statements were made.
"Quick to listen, slow to anger, slow to speak - and that's kept me from talking back," Tisdale said. "Not to mention, love your neighbor as yourself."
Jeff Kallman said that night was the most furious he's ever been, but that he regretted his choice of words.
"It was out of grief and frustration and just pain and suffering over the loss of our pet, who we desperately miss," Julie Kallman said. "You feel so violated when your own backyard doesn't feel safe. He was frustrated that something was robbed from us and killed, and he couldn't protect it."
Tisdale saw things differently.
"At the very least, he's a bully, and he's not going to bully me," Tisdale said. "He could have came to my door and said, 'My dog's dead, bro.' And I would have hugged the hell out of him."
Tisdale had offered to pay the first $212 vet bill, but has yet to pay because of the feud, he said.
He said he plans to try to find a home for one of his dogs, who's nursing seven puppies and may be the lead aggressor in the pack of dogs.
"I'm getting rid of her out of general principle," Tisdale said. "She's the smoking gun."
Neighbors said they've had a good relationship with Tisdale over the years, and it wasn't until recently that his dogs started becoming a nuisance.
"There's too much pack mentality going on over there with the dogs," neighbor James Lindsey said. "(Tisdale) has already been very put out about this, too. He has tried, but not well enough. And personally, I don't think there's a place within the city limits for that sort of thing."
Kallman said she's filed charges at the municipal court and is planning a civil case against Tisdale. But mostly, she wants to prevent something like this from happening again by taking the issue to city council.
"Maybe we can make some sort of change."