In the Doghouse
"It was a mistake that I'll live with the rest of my life that I truly regret," Diane says of dognapping Spike, her neighbor Lora's pooch.
Standing in her backyard, Lora gestures to the house adjacent to hers. "This was where all the trouble started. This is Diane's house," she says. Pointing to a security camera mounted on her neighbor's home, she says, "We actually have surveillance to each other's yards."
"Over the course of four and a half years, I've had constant problems with her dog," Diane explains.
"Diane complained about the dog pooping in the backyard, kids playing in her yard, and then she complained about the dog's barking," Lora reveals.
Diane says she reported Spike's barking to animal control and to the police department, and she filed a restraining order against her neighbor, but to no avail. "It was denied. The legal system has completely failed me," she says.[AD]
Diane recounts when the dognapping occurred. "Last year, I saw their dog running around my tree, doing his business. The daughter is standing right there laughing, smiling. The camera is capturing her. I was furious," she remembers. "So I decided to just take the dog somewhere and just abandon it. So I put the dog in the trunk of my car, and I drove 15 miles away. Where I dropped the dog off, there was a surveillance system on the business that observed my actions. I lost my job because of this, and I know that's what they wanted."
"She has never apologized to us," Lora says.
"It was my fault. I shouldn't have done what I did, but what else was there for me to do?" Diane asks.
"I want to say, right off the bat, that my actions were inappropriate, but there have been nothing but continuous problems where I had either their dog coming onto my property doing his business, the neighbors running through my yard, allowing their kids to run through my yard, just totally disrespecting my property," Diane tells Dr. Phil. "All I asked them for is respect and consideration."
"So you don't apologize for this," Dr. Phil observes. "You think you got pushed into this, and as you said at the end of your tape, â€˜What else was I to do?'"
"It was put out into the media that the reason I took the dog, which was wrong, but nonetheless the reason I took the dog was because the dog was barking. That had absolutely nothing to do with my reasons for taking the dog," Diane explains. "When the legal system fails you, you try to do what is right."[AD]
"So you do justify it. You say the system failed you, and in fact, the judge said the system failed you," Dr. Phil notes. "I'll admit, I'm a dog lover. I don't like somebody stealing and abandoning a dog."
He turns to Lora. "What do you think about all of this?"
"We also went through the law. Every time she would call animal control, they would come and there would be no barking. We have tapes also," she replies. "I don't think she realizes that there are other dogs around us, and it's like we're the ones getting picked on."
Dr. Phil informs Lora that while the Dr. Phil camera crew was shooting at her home, Spike didn't bark. "We have the dog in the green room, and the dog hasn't barked at all," Dr. Phil observes. He shows a video feed of the animal sitting calmly on a chair.
"What do you want from me?" he asks Diane.
"Was that wrong?" Dr. Phil inquires.
"Yes, it was wrong," she answers.
[AD]"I think one of the biggest mistakes people don't know they make is they don't own a mistake, if they made it," Dr. Phil points out. "You say, â€˜I made a mistake, but they harassed me, but the law didn't help me out, but I'm sorry I did it.' Then I hear everything after that which says, â€˜I had no choice. I am the victim here. They are the perpetrators, not me.' That's what I hear you saying."
"That's not what I mean for you to hear. I'm simply trying to, again, explain my side," Diane says.
"What do you say about this? Are you harassing this woman?" Dr. Phil asks Lora.
"No," she replies. "She's done a lot more to us than what has been known, with blow horns, and she's accused me of following her to work."
"You have to pick your battles," Dr. Phil tells Diane. "I think your definition of harassment might be too broad."[AD]
Dr. Phil says that neighbors need to look out for each other and find a common bond. "As long as you see yourself as a victim, you're not going to have a spirit of contrition, a spirit of trying to live in harmony," he tells Diane.
Turning to Lora, he says, "Obviously, you don't trust her, and this is a contentious sort of thing. You need to do everything you can to respect her property. She's put up a separation fence. Be separate," he says.
"She's made our lives miserable, because we are in our own little shell," Lora says. "We can't even enjoy our life."