Opinion

Kristie Preddy: Rights of animals greater than rights of citizens

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

On Aug. 7, 2019, my life was changed permanently by the simple act of going on a walk for my health.

While walking on a sidewalk on Main street, not far from the school, I was attacked by two dogs and was bitten 38 times on my left hip, legs, and arms. I was left with serious injuries to both arms which included breaks in both. Since that morning, I have endured rabies shots into open wounds, surgery, months of occupational therapy and pain that may last for the rest of my life, not to mention the medical bills.

Preddy

I have also endured psychological injuries that I will not go into at this time, but you can only imagine what those must be like. 

I have learned the great majority of the citizens are amazing individuals. A neighbor and first responders are my heroes. They took incredible care of me with love and compassion. My school family provided me meals that almost lasted to Christmas break. Our community has prayed for me and my family. I know because I have felt the power of their prayers and they continue to tell me that they are praying for me, even today.  

Through all of this I have also learned more about our legal system then I care to know. I have always done my best to be the best law-abiding citizen possible and have tried to teach my children to do the same. I have always felt that the laws by the local, state and federal governments were there to protect me. I believed that if a horrific event occurred it would be okay because we are all treated equally and everything would be fine because we have a system of laws established to help it’s citizens.

Unfortunately, I have discovered that our system is not there to protect me, the hard working, taxpaying, middle-class citizen. I have been let down by the ordinances of our city, as well as the laws of our state.

The dogs and their owner have all the rights, and I have little to none.  

The owner has continued on with her life with no consequences up to this point. She is allowed to own new dogs that are seen upon occasion running up and down her street and have also been seen chasing people riding bikes. As a side note, I almost accidentally hit one of them when it ran out in front of my car.

According to my understanding of the laws of Missouri, the brutal attack I suffered by the dogs is classified as a misdemeanor. However, had I attacked the dogs to the same degree it would have been a felony. While this may not seem like much of a difference, it is significant. Because the crime is a misdemeanor the criminal courts cannot require her to pay my medical expenses and any criminal consequences will be minimal, while I will pay for this incident for the rest of my life in one way or another. 

I have been allowed to have my civil case heard by a judge and I was awarded a large judgement. However, because the dogs’ owner owns little and doesn’t even appear to work, the possibility of even receiving one penny directly from her to help with my medical bills is highly unlikely.  

The state has a crime victim’s fund that has been established to help victims of crimes. I was told by numerous people, including the prosecutor’s office, to apply for help by that state fund and I finally took their advice.

However, that agency will not certify what happen to me as a crime because “she did not sic the dogs on you,” as explained to me by a state worker. 

Please understand that I do not write this in anger or in the need for anyone to feel sorry for me. I am a strong person with a strong faith that has seen me through this.

I write this to point out the state of our system — a system that is severely broken.

It is a system that is now designed to protect the criminal, with little or no regard to the average citizen — a system where animals and criminals have the majority of the rights.

Kristie Preddy is an elementary school counselor in Cassville and a resident of the city.