by Jeanne Hambleton ©
NFA Leader Against Pain & Fibromyalgia Advocate
Here in the UK we are a nation of animal lovers. Our dogs warmly welcome us with a friendly wag of the tail when we come home – no questions asked. If we sit in the armchair, they are there at our feet, hoping for the touch of our hand. They become part of our family and offer great companionship. Some even fetch back a ball after we have rather foolishly thrown it away. For many folk when their children have grown and left home the family dog often becomes the surrogate child. I know I have been there and done that.
Having said all that I wonder how you would feel if your dog sprang into action to protect you and was condemned to death for biting an intruder. It reminds me of an owner protecting his property from a burglar and somehow becoming the offender instead of the victim.
This is a very sad story about a lovely 2-year-old German Shepherd Dog called Congo. The dog, who lives with the James family in New Jersey, USA, has been sentenced to death for trying to protect his family!
I received this plea for help today from a good fibromite friend, Diane Fryer, who has owned GSDs, and wants to save Congo’s life and other dogs like him. If this true and without prejudice, it does seem harsh when the poor dog was doing his duty. If a dog bites without provocation, this is a whole new scenario. Punishment is then in order, in my view.
Diane wrote to me and said, “Please, please take a minute to try to help save Congo’s life…..this is heartbreaking!!! Tell all the rescue centres and everyone you know. This is URGENT!!!!
Diane told me that a Judge in Princeton, NJ, ordered that a 2 year old male German Shepherd named Congo should be put to death because he attacked a landscaper. Before you pass judgment, read the story about the alleged offence:
The landscaper was supposed to arrive at the owner’s house after 8:00 am but came at 7:00 am. The owner’s wife told the landscaper to stay in the car until her husband had showered and could put the dogs in the house.
The landscaper refused to listen to the woman and when the 3 Shepherd puppies began barking, he hit them on the head with a metal rake, leaving cuts and scratches on their little heads and snouts. The puppies’ mother was also hit on the head with the rake. The owner’s young son was outside when all this was happening.
When the wife told the landscaper to stop hitting the dogs, he grabbed her from behind and pushed her to the ground prompting the male Shepherd to run out of the house.
Congo, the male Shepherd, sat between the young boy and the wife until he saw the
landscaper attack the wife. At this point, it is said Congo jumped up and the landscaper started waving the metal rake and hit the dog, which caused Congo to bite the landscaper.
I am told this ended up in court in Princeton and the insurance made a settlement with the landscaper for $250,000 and found the dog’s owner and the dog guilty. The Judge gave his final judgment last Tuesday and Congo lost and was sentenced to death.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP?
• Protest, protest and protest and try to get as much media attention as possible.
• Can everyone please write and call New Jersey Gov.Corzine urging him to over ride Congo’s death sentence. The Governor’s office is taking a numerical tally on how many people call
Please call the Governor at his Office (609) 292-6000 or EMAIL him by going to
(Choose ‘Law & Public Safety’ on drop-down list and on the next page, choose ‘Pardons & Clemency’). The Governor’s Office address is PO Box 001 Trenton, NJ 08625
• Please email Judge Annich and show your support for the James family and Congo
The address for the Courthouse is 400 Witherspoon Street, Princeton, NJ 08540
• Russell W. Annich, Jr. – Judge
• Email Judge Annich care of the Court Administrator:
• fax letters to 609-924-5902
• New Jersey residents especially needed!!!!
• NY and PA residents also especially helpful… but every call from anywhere even Canada counts!!
• Please email and call.
• Do not let Congo die because of misguided people!!!
Diane described GSDs as ‘such loyal, loving and intelligent dogs!”
She wrote, “Even if we are too late to save Congo’s life, we must let our voices be heard internationally, confirming we do not agree that this dog should suffer this fate and that we have a right to have our dogs protect us doing what comes naturally to them.
“The dog in the article/email, in my opinion, is getting the sharp end of the stick for protecting his own canine family as well as his human family. I don’t believe he should be punished for it.
“It would be really appreciated if you could put something on your weblog not only about Congo, but about the entire dog biting issue, and where blame lies. Why should a dog be punished for doing what he was bred to do – what is instinctive and natural behaviour, and something which they are prized for?”
Diane also raised the question about businesses or larger private homes where dogs are used to protect property. These are professional guard dogs.
She asks, “If there is a break-in and the dogs bite the intruder, would the same thing happen there???? Would these dogs be put to death? Makes you wonder?”
Diane is worried that destroying Congo will set a precedent and that many more dogs will lose their lives for protecting their owners following on from this if “we don’t fight it, whether it’s too late to save Congo or not.”
It is a very controversial debate, but Diane strongly believes that we need to make people think about issues like this. Yes, some dogs need to be destroyed when they act without provocation – but a line has to be drawn between what is unacceptable and what is quite natural and accepted/expected canine behaviour. It should not be a blanket response to GSDs and all dogs that bite a human.
She adds, “We must can get this into the public domain and make people think about Congo’s fate, and the potential for any dog owner to be in the same/similar situations. This could happen to your dog?”
Crashing with aches, pains and exhaustion after fighting her battle for German Shepherd Dogs and Congo in particular Diane wrote, “I don’t know how I found the energy to write all of that as I am really not too well and feel like a rag doll with lack of energy and am having a lot of pain at the moment. I guess the subject just gets the adrenalin flowing and that gives me a boost for a short while. That has worn off now, and I’m shattered again.”
Thanks Diane for raising our awareness to the plight of dogs protecting their owners. What do you, the readers, think? Send me your comments and let us see if we can move a mountain or two? Talk soon Jeanne