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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Doing The Right Thing, Getting The Wrong Results

Amidst all the license applications being completed this week, I think we thought there were two but maybe there are now five, there was the underlying stress of this morning’s court date against our beautiful dog Porter’s attacker, Dale Burns. Until today, we had not released his name wanting to give the judicial system its fair shake first. I was not actually feeling stressed about the event, more looking forward to staring this beast in the eye and listening to his account of that day’s events. The details of that day are still exceptionally fresh in my mind. Closing my eyes, or looking into Porter’s, I can see the brutally of what was probably only just a few minutes, and still hear his screams. I’ve been clear about the facts of the story, consistent. And exceptionally clear that Porter in no way provoked this man into grabbing him by the neck and slamming him to the floor. But still, there was that lingering feeling I’ve had since a college economics exam when I walked out feeling like I had aced it, and instead failed with a 38. I’ve experienced this same feeling during several points of my life and learned the unfortunate lesson of there being no sure thing, even when there should be. In court, we saw the “cleaned up” version of Dale. Maybe there were a few less inches of beard. There was some sort of button-down shirt, button at the top and bottom only, with the grungy farm garb clearly visible underneath. But there we finally were, face to face. There was his “attorney,” equally disheveled in an attempt to clean up and present for the day. And there was our “prosecutor.” In this tiny town, your reporting police officer is often your prosecutor. Officer Cook from Mount Joy PD was by my side. He’s a fine young officer who seems not only sharp and eager to learn, but also has a strong sense of compassion and knows when to slow down and take his time when working with crimes such as this. I told my side of the story. Clear, concise and factual. He told his story, which at points read more like a fairytale. Officer Cook asked his questions. Dale’s “lawyer” asked his, hinting at how absurd the entire story sounded – a deliveryman coming into my home and playing with one dog, then mentally snapping and slamming another to the ground. The judge, a local Mount Joy attorney, took it all in before calling Officer Cook and the lawyer back into his quarters. When they returned, the judge explained how all four charges were being dismissed. He first explained that the animal cruelty charge was being dismissed because according to PA state statutes, Dale had to have a “duty to care” for Porter, which he did not. I heard next something about the disorderly conduct charge being dropped, my elderly neighbor not being there to testify about the screaming she heard from Porter that day. And then I just didn’t hear anymore. We had lost. For the second time, I had failed to protect my dog. There was no justice for Porter in that court. Our son, Little Zeke, all of a fresh 13 years old, was there with us in that courtroom. What did this experience teach him about handling things the “right” way rather than taking matters into his own? Other than that it doesn’t always produce the right result, I don’t know. No more than I know what lesson I’m supposed to learn from what has happened to our dog, who at many points seems changed forever. If there is any good at all to be gleaned from this experience, perhaps it was meeting some very kind people who care about our Porter as much as they would a member of their own family. As for Dale, well, there’s a special place in karma hell for that shit bag. Walking into the house after court, mascara and tears still on my face, we discovered that while we were at court defending Porter’s honor, he and his young brother Otis had shredded seven rolls of toilet paper and dragged the remains all over the house from second to first floor. Looking at those two, I thought to myself “even with this, I still prefer your company to that of most humans.” Some folks Zuck. Some others just suck ….


  1. I'm thinking Otis had a hot line to the courthouse and was either expressing his displeasure with the verdict OR providing you with some messy humor to keep you occupied. Either way, Dale Burns still sucks.

  2. Actually, that provided me with a good laugh.

  3. I am so sorry for you that the day in court went so poorly. From my own previous dog problem, my impression is that the district magistrate level of justice can be a travesty.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Allen,

      Thanks for deleting your post. It saves our faithful readers from the absurdity of "you" trying to regulate what "we" decide to put on "our" blog. Yes, we're a brewery, but, we're also human and we also love our dogs more than our beer. We also enjoy the fact that our regular readers and future customers love their pets as much as we do. As for this "tight knit" community.....they're pretty much with us on this, at least that's what the majority have communicated. Keep you two cents, and the six bucks for the pint of the best damn craft beer dog lovers could make in your pocket. We're quite alright with that. Rather than your "take it or leave it" farewell, we prefer.....Peace.

  5. I was on localharvest.org looking for local farms, clicked on Breakaway farms and saw a review that lead to your blog.
    So sorry that happened to you, what a horrible experience.
    Serious kudos for remaining calm when this POS attacked your dog. If Burns is "comfortable" enough to become violent to a passive animal in someone else's home, what would he have done if you had challenged him? Frightening...
    Breakaway farms lost any business with me employing such a vicious individual and not doing anything about it after hearing what he did to a customer.

    Hopefully, Porter will bounce back soon, he's lucky to have such a caring family.

    You've found a new customers in us. Your beers sound funky cool and anyone who defends and loves their animals is a true human being.