Mary Dover, One Year After Attack
Daytona Beach, FL - Last year, a woman fled a vacant lot screaming while a pack of angry dogs attacked her. The scars from 20 stitches still line her arms and legs. The owner of the dogs, Joseph Prokop, 67, surrendered the dogs for destruction and paid over $1,400 in fines, but the married young mother, who works two jobs to pay her bills, feels the system failed her.
The victim, Mary Dover, sued Prokop for her injuries, but soon learned she couldn't collect for her $5,000 in medical bills when he filed for bankruptcy protection months later. She went to two different lawyers for help, but a bankruptcy judge in Orlando ruled that she could not pursue her claim. That's because the attack wasn't willfully negligent. Dover said, "He would have had to have been standing over the dogs, ordering them to attack me."
Owners of attacking dogs will seek bankruptcy to escape payment. Rules governing access to protected funds likely varies state to state.
Prokop's attorneys argued Dover was on Prokop's property in an agricultural zone, which she denies. Prokop's wife, Maria, said they were not even home. She said they were never certain for sure that it was their dogs that attacked Dover. They didn't have homeowners insurance to cover Dover's injuries either. Dover doesn't understand this. She said, "If you're going to have those kind of dogs, you should be required to have homeowners insurance."
Last December, Dover's life changed forever. She visited a property on State Road 11 that had been listed for her to sell. She was talking on her cell phone when she turned and saw the dogs. The six dogs, some of them pit bulls and others mixed breed large dogs, growled and bared their teeth. When Dover turned to walk away, the animals rushed. One of them grabbed her by the head and pulled her to the ground. The others joined in, biting and clawing.
Dover broke away and ran to the road. The pack swarmed her again with more bites to the buttocks and legs, tearing her pants. Some cars just drove by. She thought she might die, when two men stopped and helped pull her to safety. A sheriff's report said the dogs had escaped through the fence of Prokop's yard. The Prokops still have dogs. By law, Prokop can keep up to eight dogs as long as they're licensed, vaccinated, spayed and neutered.
Maria Prokop said the attack hurt them too. "We have already closed that chapter," she said. "This has caused terrible pain."
Dover doesn't think it's right that the Prokops were able to avoid payment through bankruptcy protection, but the move was legal. Dover's lawyer, Chris Rich, said that exceptions include cases where claims for injuries resulting from drunken driving accidents are pending. Otherwise, some malicious intent must be proven. Now Dover hopes to spread the word on the dangers of loose dogs. "I couldn't live with myself," she said. "If this happened to someone else."
This is the Very Necessity Behind DogsBite.org
On November 13, 2008 Mary Dover left a comment on DogsBite.org. Our resources are very limited. This is why we tell all victims of attacks to become members of our forum. Many of our forum members are active volunteers that can assist victims by offering advice and acting as a sounding board. Unfortunately, for now, the best assistance writers at DogsBite.org can give, is to continue writing and educating the public about these issues.
"The reason I am writing is because I actually have a situation that I have no Idea how to handle. I am a 27 year old native Floridean and have endured an ever long and lasting court battle. The situation is I was a Realtor in Volusia County, Florida and was out previewing property for a client of mine. At the time of the incident, I was by myself walking a piece of vacant land for my clients when I was mulled by 1 pure breed pitbull, 1 rotweiler and 4 other mixed breed pit bulls. (totaling 6 dogs) I was luckily saved by two men that were passing by in the midst of the attack and was rushed to the hospital by EVAC with abrasions to my right leg, buttox, left arm, back and head. This incident occurred on December the 11, 2007. After animal control was able to seize the 6 dogs and find the owner who there in had more than 20 mixed breed and pure breed dogs on his property I filed a civil case against him to recollect for the medical bills that were endured from the attack. We made it to our first court date in February and he was fined on each occurrence for failure to restrain, vaccinate and others it was about 16 citations total. Volusia County collected their money but the day prior to our deposition in April the man filed bankruptcy. Obviously that put me at a stay with my civil suit and therein I had to hire a bankruptcy attorney to try and get relief from the stay. Throughout this battle, I have been to not only the Sheriffs department to collect not only one police report, but two as well as other documents from the courts public records about this man and wife with regards to their history. I have found about 11 total cases for failure to restrain, dogs attacking livestock and killing these animals as well as livestock at large dating from 1994 to recent. The answer I get from animal control is that he is allowed to have as many dogs as he would like to have because he is on agriculturally zoned property. He doesn't have to have home owners insurance because he owns his property out right but when you drive a vehicle on the road you are legally required to have automotive insurance right? What's the difference? I wasn't on his property and his dogs weren't on his property they were roaming free and clear of his property so why not have insurance when you have dangerous breeds of dogs? So Legally he has the right to abade this suit because he filed bankruptcy. I understand that this happens every day but I was not allowed to continue with my case and I thought in America that you were allowed to have a trial? I thought that the US Constitution was in line to help uphold Americans rights. I am beginning to feel that this will never be fully put to rest for me and it's not about the money factor as it is that I have a 3 year old child at which at the time of the incident was 2 years of age. I almost had him with me that day. I turned around to go and pick him up from school because I couldn't find the property and was going to go back and search for the property with him as we had done previously. I found the property luckily but imagine having 6 dogs attacking you ripping your clothes off as you are running down a highway trying to evade them. At the time of the attack it was 4:30 PM and the kids were getting ready to get off the bus in that area. The police officer that came to the site was attacked by the dogs, imagine if this reoccurs it could be much worse the 12th time around and so the court will do what? Dismiss him again after they collect their fees of course. I received word from my attorney on November the 10th that the middle district bankruptcy court allowed him to receive his bankruptcy with me included because according to the chapter 7 guidelines it has to be considered "malicious Intent." They didn't even here the rest of my case that this has been an ongoing situation for this man and his 11 instances. I would consider that malicious intent if you knew that you had prior problems with these animals and you chose not to deal with it that in my eyes is malicious. Correct me if I am wrong please. I need help, guidance, something. Because of the attack, I have since found out I have bulging discs in my back L4 & L5 and they are hitting a nerve which is causing problems in my leg and upper back, I quit selling Real estate full time and at the time after quit all together and have since gotten back in part time effective June 2008. I just don't want this to happen again and I have written Ric Keller, Andy Kelly and many other Florida voted in congressman, senators and representatives. Nobody will help to try and change laws. It just seems to me that criminals get away with more than victims get help. Please help....I want to stop this non sense and change the way our laws are read. Where is our justice system and where does it really prevail?"