My wife and I have an adorable puppy that, as of 24 hours ago, one of our neighbors seems to have become fixated on, in a bad way. This came out of nowhere and I don't know what to do with it.
We've lived in an apartment complex since April. Our unit has a little patio area with 5-foot walls around it. When the puppy needs to do her "business," she sits by the door and we let her out onto the patio. We'll keep an eye on her and let her in when she's ready; sometimes she likes to poke around and enjoy the weather so we'll let her stay for 10-15 minutes. Occasionally if she's ready to come back inside before we notice, she'll bark once to get our attention, and we open the door. She is generally very quiet. I clean up her messes outside every couple days.
Last night around 10:00 we let her out as usual. She had been outside for a few minutes when someone walked by, talking, on the sidewalk. She can't see over the wall but the noise surprised her and she started barking. She barked maybe six times times in quick succession before I was able to get to the door and bring her inside.
About a half hour later, we got a knock on the door. It was an apartment security guard. He said he'd received a noise complaint from someone, about a dog that "wouldn't stop barking." My wife and I were shocked and offended that someone would call and make a complaint after that little thing, which (contrary to the report) we'd stopped as soon as it started.
Today the apartment management left a strongly worded letter on our door. It included such phrases as "there have been some disturbances from your apartment," and "disorderly conduct will not be tolerated." I have no idea if this letter was prompted by the same call that dispatched the security guard last night, or a second call. The letter says "a dog was left out
on the patio... dog was barking and disturbed neighbors" (emphasis mine). My wife and I are quiet, peaceful people. We don't want trouble with the apartment management, especially over such a massively exaggerated account of what happened. It was downright false.
I had hoped the letter from management was the end of this story, but I just returned from dinner to find a new letter attached to the front door. This one from the unidentified neighbors themselves. It's short, so I'm going to print it here:
We've noticed you've been leaving your dog outside on your patio, with no access to get back in. This apartment complex doesn't allow that. It can be a nuisance to people around you and worse, as it gets colder, it is abusive and neglectful to your pet.
If you continue to leave your dog outside as we get into the fall and winter, we will contact animal protection services and the management office. If you love your dog, you will keep him or her inside.
I am really shaken up by this. Whoever wrote this is completely mistaken; we never "leave" the dog outside "with no access to get back in." We're here and watching the whole time. What we do is in fact completely permitted by the apartment complex.
My offense is compounded by the insinuation that we're abusive pet owners and the threats
that follow it. Worst of all is the feeling that there's nothing we can do to prevent anonymous from following through on those threats, because our behavior is not going to (and shouldn't) change. I would confront this busybody directly but I don't have a clue who it is. I feel like we have no opportunity to defend ourselves. This is the first issue we've had in the six months we've lived here, and don't know if we're dealing with a longtime resident or someone who just moved in.
Sorry for the length. My question is this: How in the world can we deal with this person, and protect our dog — and lease — from this crap? From the tiny glimpse we've been given of our neighbor's personality, this "problem" that's been foisted on us is not going to go away on its own.