Who Barked First? Answer Could Mean Jail Time 5-20-2011 - WNEM TV 5

Who Barked First? Answer Could Mean Jail Time 5-20-2011

A local man is facing charges for barking at a police dog, but as TV5’s Liz Gelardi found out, he doesn’t agree about who barked first. Dominique Smith is due in court next week, but Friday he sat down with TV5 to tell his side of the story.
“The dog was like, ‘arf, arf,’ and I was like, ‘arf,’ back to it, and that was it, he locked me up,” said Smith.
Buena Vista Township police officers say Smith barked at Zeus as the dog assisted an officer during a traffic stop in the parking lot of the Liquor Basket store on St. Patrick’s Day.
Smith said he didn't think anything of it. He says he was just saying hello with a simple bark. What he didn't know is that act could qualify as harassing a police dog.
“It wasn't like I was trying to harass this dog or anything; I barked one time and I kept on moving,” said Smith.

VOTE: Do you think the man should have been charged for barking at a police dog?

Some in the community are shaking their heads at such a frivolous arrest. “I could see how a person could say, ‘Oh that's a ridiculous arrest.’ It's not a ridiculous arrest; it's an officer safety issue for the dog and the officer,” said Buena Vista Township Police Chief Brian Booker.
This isn't the first time someone harassed a police dog in Buena Vista Township. In 2009, a man taunted a K9 cop and spent a day in jail. He also received a $200 fine.
When this bizarre barking incident happened, the officer was in the middle of pulling someone over. Zeus was keeping watch from the car. The only question now is: Who barked first?
“He told us the dog barked first,” said Gelardi. “And he can tell his story in court,” said Booker.
The chief insists it was Smith who spoke first. Smith disagrees. “The dog did,” said Smith. “OK, because I think the police department is saying that you barked first,” said Gelardi. “No, I did not,” said Smith. The “he barked, he barked” will be a question that will have to be answered in court.
No matter the outcome, messing with a police dog isn't taken lightly. If convicted, Smith could face a year in jail and a $5,000 fine.
Smith is scheduled to be in court for a pretrial conference on May 26.
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