A man in Tarpon Springs, Florida, is sticking to his guns — and threatening to use them — in a protracted battle over walking his dog without a leash.
Robert Wirth Jr. has spent $100,000 in legal fees on the case, and may lose his house, all because of walking his dog in a deed-restricted community without a leash.
“We’re running out of time because we’re running out of money,” said Wirth, 52, who works as a real estate broker and continues to walk his black Labrador, Cole, without a leash.
In January 2003, the River Watch Homeowners Association fined Wirth and his wife, Sandra L. Blaker, $1,000 for letting Cole walk without a leash. When the couple didn’t pay, the association filed a lien and, later that year, foreclosed on the home to collect the debt.
Last year, a circuit judge ordered Wirth and his wife to pay the fine, plus interest, attorney fees and other costs or the house would be sold. Wirth now owes more than $40,000, he said. He filed another appeal in February 2008, which has yet to be ruled on.
Wirth argued that the River Watch Homeowners Association deed restriction — “A dog must be kept on a leash at all times when outside” — is too broad and, as written, required even dogs in fenced yards to be on leashes.
Wirth’s frustration have escalated to the point that he not too wisely said he would shoot and kill one of the board members if things don’t go his way. “I am not going to let them ruin me and my wife like this without standing up to them,” Wirth said.
Wirth’s comments were reported to the Tarpon Springs police, which followed up. The agency said the threat didn’t appear imminent, but that authorities would monitor the situation.
The St. Petersburg Times, in an editorial today, comes down on the side of the homeowner’s association, calling Wirth’s defiance of the rule “stubborn and illogical.”
The editorial argues that the couple, by buying the house, agreed to the restriction and states that, no matter how well-behaved a dog might be “there are no guarantees when dealing with an animal.”
Posted by John Woestendiek April 7th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: association, battle, court, deed restrictions, editorial, fight, fines, florida, foreclosure, homeowners, leash, lien, police, river watch, robert wirth, tarpon springs, threats, unleashed, walking, wirth