Although the dog who killed her pet goat showed it no mercy, a Clifton woman pleaded Tuesday morning in court for the dog's life to be spared. And the judge concurred.
"I'm a real animal lover," she explained afterward, outside the courtroom. "Nothing would replace my goat; but had they taken the dog's life, I would have been devastated."
Centre View is not identifying the woman because she is a victim, but two men faced charges in Fairfax County General District Court in connection with the incident — in which another goat was also severely injured.
County Animal Control officers charged Andrew Boggess, 28, of 6101 Newman Road in Clifton, with two counts of having an unrestricted dog. His father, Jack Boggess, 68, of 304 Canyon Road in Winchester, was charged with having a dog that killed livestock and having a dog that injured livestock.
The woman had six "little, pygmy goats" and 12 rabbits in her Clifton yard. Oreo, the goat who was killed, was just 14 months old. "He was still a bit stand-offish, but was just getting to a point where I could hug him," she said. "He was my baby — he was priceless to me."
Her pet goat that survived the dog's attack is named Bob, and he, too, went through a harrowing ordeal. "Bob had to have 20 stitches in his side, six in his ear and a couple in his tail," said the woman. "He had puncture marks on his throat and on the back of his head where the dog had grabbed him. Bob must have fought the dog, but Oreo was so terrified of everything that I'm sure he didn't."
Jack Boggess was vacationing in Florida, Jan. 29, when the attack occurred. He'd left his adult female German Shepherd with his son Andrew, but the dog got loose and mayhem ensued. In court Tuesday, Animal Control Officer E.W. Powell told Judge Lorraine Nordlund he responded to Newman Drive that afternoon for a report of a livestock killing.
But that wasn't the first time the dog had run amuck, he said. "Five days earlier, on Jan. 24, the dog was noticed by [the victim] by her rabbit pen," said Powell. "She spoke with [Andrew Boggess] about it." Nordlund asked if the dog had any restrictive fences, and Powell said no. He also said Boggess admitted the dog had gotten out before that day.
The judge heard the case against Andrew Boggess first. Explaining what happened Jan. 29, he said, "I was working in the yard and went inside to get the leaf blower. The door was ajar. I didn't know the dog got out. I didn't allow the dog to run unrestricted."
"But you'd been advised earlier about the dog," said Nordlund. "You didn't take extra precautions?"
The victim then testified that her son, 15, discovered the mutilated goats after the attack. Still, she said, "It's not a vicious dog — it did what a dog will do. I have nothing against the dog."
Telling Boggess she considered the Jan. 24 incident his notice to restrain the dog, Nordlund said he was "fully aware [on the 29th] that the dog [could] get out. The door was open. I find you guilty." She then fined him $50, but dismissed the Jan. 24 charge against him.
Next came the case against Jack Boggess, but it wasn't as easily resolved. Animal Control Officer William Pearsall said the teen-ager told him and Powell about the attack on the two goats and said Boggess owned the dog. The boy also testified about the traumatic events of Jan. 29 and said he saw the dog walking out of the goat pen.
"I saw Oreo in the creek [near the pen], deceased," he said. "I said something to the dog, and it came over to me. Bob was standing on the bank, looking at the dog. I put Bob back in the goats' pen." Then, he said, the dog jumped back into the pen, but Andrew Boggess — who, by then, was looking for the canine — walked up and the dog went to him.
Jack Boggess said Andrew called and told him what happened. He then called Powell and learned the dog was in the county animal shelter — from which Jack Boggess had adopted him four years ago.
Nordlund told him the Virginia Code specifies punishment for dogs killing or injuring livestock. He only had two choices: "Either have the dog euthanized or move it to [another state] where it can't get back to Virginia."
She said it's Boggess' responsibility to find the dog a new home. "We all love our dogs, cats, goats — they're part of the family," said Nordlund. "I don't want to have the dog euthanized."
But Boggess balked, saying, "I've lived here 58 years. Either I have to move or give my dog away to someone in another state." Then the goats' owner spoke up. "Would it be sufficient to keep it out of Fairfax County?" she asked the judge. "I really don't want him to lose his dog."
Boggess said he'd build a fence, and Nordlund, "concerned about [the victim's] feelings," ruled in accordance with her wishes. She placed Boggess on a year's probation, adding, "If the dog returns to your son's residence [during that time], we'll have to determine if the dog should be euthanized. Don't put me in that position."
Pearsall will notify Frederick County's Animal Control officers about the dog and said, "If it kills livestock there, they'll charge him with the same state code section." The victim said Andrew promised to pay for Bob's $545 medical expenses.
She said she just wants the dog out of Fairfax County: "If he comes back, he'd be right back at the pen and kill a goat again. I have a huge German Shepherd, myself, but he's always on a leash. People have got to be held responsible."