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Posted 5/9/04
Lauren's Letter—
Fayetteville dog in jeopardy
Posted 8/4/04

Kim and Clem Johnson are restoring/renovating a Sinclair gas station as their home in Fayetteville, Arkansas. It was featured on HGTV's Building Character program in 2003.
(See online here at

Their talents are apparent in their many projects, both business and personal. Such is the topic of the recent issue of the Arkansas Business Journal feature "Creative Resources of Northwest Arkansas." The Johnsons' presence in our community contributes to that wealth of creative endeavors and business services enriching our area.

On April 12, 2004 the local police used the Johnson's driveway for a traffic stop. Then life changed.

A back-up officer claims the Johnsons' German shepherd lunged at him before he fired two rounds at the dog. The officer had a billy club and pepper spray, but chose his firearm. Hearing the shots, a neighbor came over, and was told to stand back because the police didn't want anyone hit by shrapnel. Two officers had guns drawn toward the home and dog.

The neighbor ran in front of the dog who had lain down on the front door step — now in a pool of his own blood. The neighbor told the officers they weren't going to shoot the dog (if he had anything to do with it) and stood between them and Mike, the dog. The neighbor comforted Mike and led him into the fenced yard, from which he had weaseled his way out earlier, to sit on the front stoop and wait for the Johnsons' return.

An animal control officer was called by the police. Mike was taken to the animal shelter "under arrest" for being vicious. The lodged bullet was removed from a hind leg.

The dog has since been confined in a very small, isolated, holding cell awaiting trial. The Johnsons have tried to pay fines for a dog running at large, offering community service for not having fastened the gate well enough, but have been told they must wait for a trial.

They visit Mike every day possible. (The shelter is closed to visitors on Sundays.) The Johnsons have tried to appeal to various authorities, but have thus far hit a wall at every turn. Although many have been sympathetic, all seem to have their hands tied.

The trial is now set for July 21. This big, sweet dog is most likely going to be completely broken by then. He has no way to understand what has happened and why he is suddenly confined. One minute he's investigating a commotion in his front yard and without ever leaving the property is shot, then held alone in a cement rectangle.

It seems the policeman cannot simply apologize for having been frightened and shooting. And it seems the dog will lose his life because of it.

This dog is a much loved family member. He is also a comfort to Kim when home alone. Theft and vandalism have stopped since Mike joined them on their busy street. He is adored by the neighbors and many friends. This situation needs intervention, and FAST! Every day Mike is away from home, his health and outlook is that much more in danger.

I can understand being frightened by a dog. What I do not understand is how "one of the finest police departments in the country," as boasted in the State of the City address released just weeks before this incident, cannot see a solution to this unfortunate incident beyond pushing for Mike to be put down. The cameras newly installed in patrol cars (an achievement also touted in the report) did not record any of the ordeal – which occurred out of view. So Mike draws the short straw.

I adore my animals. They are a large part of my family unit. If this is how our fair city treats its citizens and their families, how fair a city is it?

Fence approved for Fayetteville, AR family dog

As a condition for Mike's release, the German shephard is required to be limited in isolated confinement forever. The city prosector's office required, among other stipulations, a 6' chainlink fence with gates to be built around Clem and Kim Johnson's property for his containment.

The planning department then advised its commission to deny a permit request for the fence at a commercial-zoned residence. The commission agreed.

Though the Johnsons were advised that a permit was not required under Fayetteville's permit conditions, they were denied it.

Their appeal for a variance to the Fayetteville Board of Adjustment won approval August 2. The Fayetteville

City Council indefinately tabled the appeal - putting a final close to the fence proposal. The fence can now be installed.

Mike is settling back in at home under his new confined conditions. The Johnsons are hoping they can "just get back to living our lives" as much and soon as possible.

Thanks to the many who lent their generous support of all sorts along with Brenda Thiel and Robert Reynolds, Ward 1 aldermen, for their representation on the Johnsons' behalf.

If you have information of other similar incidents,
please contact us here


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Fayetteville, AR © 2003, 2004, 2005

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