River Views

Update on the case of the homeless man acquitted of charges he intentionally injured his pit bull, Frankie, on August 19th of this year. First, we must go back to the only member of the public, outside the jury, who watched the entire court case of September 26th and 27th, the founder of a pit bull rescue organization. The homeless defendant has been under a court order for some time to remain at least two hundred fifty yards or more away from the founder of the pit bull rescue group, including residence and place of work. On October 7th, the homeless man in question sat himself down on the curb outside the business of the pit bull rescuer. She called the local police. When law enforcement arrived the homeless man was in possession of an open container of alcohol. The police cited and released him.

At about 6:45 in the evening of Tuesday, October 23rd, law enforcement received a phone call which led them to investigate a report of three adult males disturbing the peace in the area along Highway One, south of the Noyo Bridge. Upon arrival, officers deemed all three men to be intoxicated to the point that they were considered a danger to themselves. One of them was Frankie’s owner. He resisted arrest to the degree that citizens listening in on police scanners could not hear the officers over the homeless man’s curses and threats. During the altercation a peace officer sustained a knee injury.

Frankie’s owner was transported to the county jail in Ukiah. According to Fort Bragg Police Chief Scott Mayberry, an arrested individual’s property goes over the hill with them. Animals travel, caged, in the same vehicle with their person. As of this writing Frankie is believed to be safe within the Animal Care and Control shelter in Ukiah. If Frankie’s owner is released pending trial, the pit bull may be returned to his custody. If the homeless man remains imprisoned for any length of time the Daisy Davis Pit Bull Rescue group has a long term foster home lined up for Frankie.

The homeless man, Dylan Wayne Swartout, has been arrested three times for criminal traffic violations (possibly DUI). Along with pending court appearances about the October 23rd incident and violating the restraining order he has had one other arrest for non-traffic criminal matters. However, under the name Dylan Wayne Keiley he’s had an additional six arrests for non-traffic crimes.

This leads us to the letter writers to the coast newspapers. The well intentioned founder of Daisy Davis Pit Bull Rescue opened her letter to the editor with Gandhi’s quote: “Any society, any nation, is judged by how it treats its weakest members.”

Perhaps she is unaware that Gandhi spoke about people, like Frankie’s homeless owner, not dogs.

A week later a slew of letters followed in coast papers, all condemning the homeless man’s treatment of Frankie as well as the jurors who acquitted him in the August 19th incident. As poorly as Dylan Swartout (or Keiley) has seemingly treated Frankie the pit bull it is all too easy to condemn a repeat offender. Even the most dastardly defendant deserves a strong defense. Where are the letters demanding a mental health system that can treat and house the homeless? There is indeed something wrong with a society, a nation, a state, a county, a coastal community that wails to the high heavens about the mistreatment of a dog by a homeless man, but does next to nothing to improve the situation of the homeless short of periodically imprisoning them.

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