DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Jim Humrichouse is watching his dogs more closely these days after a recent encounter with Dallas Animal Services.
"All somebody has to do is say, 'I'm afraid,' and then that gives them the legal ability to take the dog," Humrichouse said.
The Dallas resident said his dog, Peppa, pulled free from his wife's hands last month and ran straight for a neighbor's dog.
He said the dogs fought for a few seconds before getting separated.
That was it, or so he thought.
Another neighbor who overheard the incident reported Peppa to the city. That's when DAS opened an investigation.
"They accused my dog of biting a person, which didn't happen," said Humrichouse. "They they refused to show me any information to prove that."
State code said DAS can deem dogs dangerous if they attack a person or make them "reasonably believe" the dog will attack.
The dogs that earn the designation will appear on a public registry of dangerous dogs.
But the city of Dallas also keeps a list of aggressive dogs. That title is granted to unleashed animals who have hurt or killed other animals.
The city deemed Peppa both an aggressive dog and a dangerous dog. Each title carries its own separate set of fines.
"We did a very thorough investigation," said Ann Barnes, a field manager for DAS. "We received multiple affidavits regarding one of his dogs."
Barnes declined to make any further comments, saying Humrichouse's case remains open.
Humrichouse is appealing both decisions.
Humrichouse claimed the city has yet to prove Peppa deserves either designation, but he's on the hook for double the costs.
Each designation will cost him $250 in annual registration fees and he must post two signs at every entry point on his property.
"I went from nothing to two labels, $500 in fees, a lawyer, all this overnight," Humrichouse said.
He can afford the costs, but Humrichouse said he is worried about the next pet owner.
"This may not impact you now, but it could impact you in the future," he said. "God forbid your dog do anything."
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