Gulfport’s walkability and bike-ability are a major feature of downtown life. Each day, residents use the various trails in the area to exercise, experience wildlife, or simply get out of the house for a little bit. In one case recently, this came with a problem.
The Gabber Newspaper received a letter from John Paradis on Jan. 25 describing an issue that he faced while biking with his husband, Daniel Grimmel.
Dog Attack in Gulfport’s Ward IV
“We went for a bike ride today in Gulfport. When we turned off 57th Street South onto 16th Avenue South a large dog attacked us. By jumping off our bikes we were able to protect ourselves by putting the bike between us and the dog. The owner said nothing to the dog and told us ‘We don’t need any more f****** here. Ride on another street.’
“We were able to keep the dog’s teeth away from our legs. However, being in our 70s, our bodies are not as strong and I injured my leg. We called the Gulfport Police Department and spoke to an Officer Staubus. He told us, ‘Don’t ride on that street.’ I don’t know if this is the way all of the GPD feels or it is just Officer Staubus. According to Code 1952, § 5.30; Ord. of 2-4-58, § 2; Ord. No. 92-5, § 2, 5-5-92, this woman was violating that code by letting her dog run free. Officer Stauvus [sic] wouldn’t even speak to her about breaking the law. These laws are in place to protect the citizens but the GPD is not enforcing them. Sorry Tommy’s Hideaway and Pia’s we don’t feel safe in Gulfport any more.”
The Gabber Newspaper spoke with Paradis and Grimmel about the incident.
“The officer pretty much said that there are plenty of roads and we don’t need to be on that one,” said Paradis. “We’re just shocked. This is the third time something like this has happened with the same dog. The first time, the dog came from behind us. We peddled away, but the woman yelled from her yard. The second time we were able to get away, but this time it came from in front of us and stopped us.”
According to the pair, the dog’s owner never tried to recall the dog.
“As it was going back and forth between us, I hit the dog with the back tire of my bike. That’s when it ran off,” said Grimmel.
Paradis injured his hamstring during the incident, and had trouble getting back on his bike to get away.
The GPD incident report number GP24-001270 was filed by Grimmel on Jan. 24, slightly before 2 p.m. Officer Michael Staubus was assigned to the incident. The report says that Grimmel described the incident, and said that Paradis pulled his hamstring during the attack. Along with this, Grimmel said they had a continuous problem with this dog. According to the report, “The RP (reporting party) did not state whether or not the dog tried biting either of them, but based on his statement it does not appear anybody was bitten.”
While Grimmel says the pair has had problems with the dog for several months, the report says there have been no prior calls about it. Staubus advised Grimmel to call law enforcement next time this happens to assess the situation.
“I also advised the RP that he may want to consider possibly considering taking a different street for a bicycle route to avoid further issues. However, this caused the RP to become irate, asking me why him and his friend should have to take a different street when the resident can’t keep her dog under control. The RP also then asked me if I am just going to let other people control the city how they want, and then asked for my name before the phone call ended,” said Staubus’ report.
Words from the Chief
The Gabber Newspaper spoke with GPD Chief Rob Vincent about the incident.
“Generally speaking we get calls about dog bites. There was no bite in this incident,” said Vincent. “There really is no such thing as standard procedure when it comes to this. I can’t fault the officer for his advice; I think it is good advice for the situation.”
In response to the questions about the ordinances, Vincent described the GPD’s enforcement priorities. As dogs off leash rarely get calls, the ordinances get enforced less. If the police department received more calls about issues like this, the enforcement priority would go up, Vincent told The Gabber Newspaper. When it comes to the language the owner allegedly used, Vincent said that it didn’t warrant a hate crime.
“The incident report doesn’t say that she said anything like that,” said Vincent. “A hate crime in itself doesn’t exist, but is an enhancement of a crime. If the owner was committing a crime like an assault or instructing the dog to attack, and added a comment like that, it would warrant a hate crime.”
The Gabber Newspaper reached out to the dog owner but, as of press time, had not heard back. Should the dog owner get in touch, we will update the article accordingly.
How The Gabber Newspaper Covers Crime
When the current owners purchased The Gabber Newspaper in 2020, they made many changes. In October 2020, they changed policies on how The Gabber Newspaper handles crime reporting. Take a look at why we made that change.