Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Biker dogs in trouble

As a lot of you know, I write about a gang of geriatric biker witches. And there's also a dog in the books - he rides Harleys too.

I learned everything I know about Harley riding dogs from the real-life bikers who have been so generous with their stories and their time. These biker dog owners are some of the most friendly, generous people I've met. You can read more about them here.

This morning, I heard from Jesse, who is head of the Biker Dogs Motorcycle Club. One of their members is being unfairly targeted for riding with his dog. It's sad and it's wrong. I told him I'd pass the word and maybe somebody knows somebody who can help. Here's what's going on:

This is an appeal to anyone who might be able to help avert a sad and totally unnecessary
injustice about to befall a nice person and his special dog. This is not the typical story or appeal. It is longer than we wished, but a number of facts must be known to appreciate this situation. Although this involves low-level bureaucratic harassment, a good man’s unusual mission in an unusual life could be crushed on December 10th, just as we enter what should be a happy holiday season.

For decades, Jeremiah Gerbracht and a dynasty of amazing canine companions have safely
ridden hundreds of thousands of miles on his dog-friendly Harley-Davidson. The area in front of him where the dog rides is modified for the dog’s comfort and safety, and any area which gets hot is shielded. The canine half of this partnership, Sir Davidson, is impressively at home on the motorcycle. Without suggesting that a dog on a motorcycle is a good fit for riders in general, Jeremiah has unquestionably proven his expert ability to safely transport his best friend. Riding down the street in black clothes and a black leather top-hat, resembling a biker Santa giving a street-level sleigh ride to a big white German Shepherd, he has become a beloved urban figure. He has even been featured in Ripley’s Believe it or Not. When not in motion, he and Sir Davidson are invariably surrounded by curious and delighted onlookers.

For several years leading up to 1999, as Jeremiah routinely attracted the attention of ticket-minded police officers, he repeatedly received and prevailed over traffic citations. He demonstrated time after time that, counter to the impressions of the officers, he was not in fact breaking the law. As a result, he gained some officers’ respect, even riding at their invitation in police-sponsored events. He also incurred some resentment for his repeated victories. In 1999, in apparent retaliation for his consistent knockouts of the city in the ticket bouts, he was charged with a misdemeanor violation of City Municipal code 53.35, which states:

No person shall transport or carry on the running board of any motor vehicle or
outside of the portion of any motor vehicle designed for passengers or of the tonneau or body
thereof any animal unless such animal is protected by a framework or other device which will
prevent such animal from falling off or being thrown from such motor vehicle during the
operation thereof.

In confirmation of his previous proofs of innocence, he won this court case as well. In short, he
demonstrated that the design of his Harley, in conjunction with the position of the dog and his own body satisfied the law, and the judge agreed that he was not in violation, as usual.

Jeremiah was back on the road.. His own dog being a registered service dog, Mr. Gerbracht had combined his interests and become a picturesque advocate for people with service dogs. Jeremiah, who knows the statutes, helps people with problems resulting from many citizens’ and law-enforcement officers’ lack of specific knowledge of the legal rights of people relying on service animals.

Jeremiah and Sir Davidson’s current predicament began only a few months ago when a
seemingly friendly police officer, met in the course of Jeremiah’s service animal advocacy, either did not believe or disliked the advocate’s established right to ride with his dog. He reported Jeremiah to the DMV, citing inaccurate and negative claims regarding Mr. Gerbracht’s health. Subsequently, Jeremiah received and complied with demands by the DMV to submit proof of good health and to re-take their vision test and the written portion of the driving test. He did, and passed all of the tests with flying colors. With the successful completion of these requests, he thought his problems were over.

However, the worst was yet to come—

Not able to subvert the decision of the courts in any other way, the DMV now sent a demand to re-take the driving test itself---incredibly, with his dog on board. Although the DMV’s entire claim against the advocate is that this is not a proper activity, despite many past victories and a judge’s decision to the contrary, they are now demanding that he take the test in violation of what they themselves erroneously claim is the law. In an irony which should not be overlooked, the very notice to appear for the test appointment states that no pets or passengers are allowed in the vehicle during the test.

It can be reasonably assumed that demanding the test with the dog is a desperate last ploy(they apparently, like the city, don’t like losing) to take away Jeremiah’s license to operate his Harley, his only means of transport and more importantly, the core and fiber of his whole life. He is the man with the dog on the Harley. He is already suffering greatly with this frivolous but sharp axe hanging over the simple life he has built. Petty bureaucrats are dutifully pushing a false premise to its sad conclusion, unless this test can be stopped.

Not only would imposing the test with the dog onboard be in violation of their own test rules, the test course itself is an environment filled with distractions not found in real life and will no doubt especially be a circus due to the novelty of the dog on the bike. Additionally, the course is not designed for motorcycles as large as Jeremiah’s. Riders often substitute a smaller bike when facing this challenging track, but Jeremiah can’t use a substitute, as no other bike has been designed for Sir Davidson’s safety. Even if the test were perfectly executed, the scoring is not objective, and could be used unfairly against the man who dared oppose the agency. Forcing him to take the test is a set-up for failure.

The test is a trap into which Jeremiah and Davidson must not step.

Here is the appeal: Jeremiah and Sir Davidson need someone who can short-circuit this dirty trick attempt to overrule the courts and beat him down. Is there anyone with the power to persuade the original complaining officer, the DMV or even the Governor that this has gone on long enough, and that Mr. Gerbracht has done more than enough to demonstrate that he is legally in the right and is the best at what he does?

It would be ideal to nip this in the bud before it is necessary to involve the courts, for which
there is no budget, but it may be that an attorney who sees the injustice would come forward to help. This would, of necessity, require a pro bono effort, not easy to find. Jeremiah and Sir Davidson need help, right away. The test is Dec. 10th. Anyone with ideas or the connections or the ability to help prevent the onrushing and life-crushing sabotage of this good and caring man can contact us at [I'm pulling the phone number, but if you know someone who can help, email me at angie @ angiefox. com].

Thanks for reading this lengthy appeal.

And I know this is small potatoes compared to what is happening here, but anyone who can help will get the entire Accidental Demon Slayer series, including the books that haven't come out yet.

Thanks for reading.

1 comment:

Daelith said...

This is so sad. As a fellow dog lover and HD enthusiast, I will be keeping them in my prayers.