When a new neighbor moved across the street, Liam only wanted to meet him, but his dog, Pearl, scared the man. They had disputes about Pearl until she got very sick from rat poison. Liam knew who had done it immediately and wanted justice.
“Hey, there!” Liam waved as he crossed the street, jogging a little to greet the new man moving into the house in front.
“Hello,” the man turned with a box in his hands, surprised that neighbors were already coming over.
“I’m Liam. I live over there. Do you need some help?”
“Nice to meet you. I’m Brock,” the man said. “Oh no. This is the last box. The movers handled everything else.”
“Cool. Well, I just wanted to introduce myself and let you know that this is a really friendly neighborhood. We help each other out, so holler if you need me,” Liam nodded, but just as he was about to turn back home, he heard his dog, Pearl, bark and get closer.
“If that thing comes near me or my house again, I will make it disappear! Do you hear me?”
She was a beautiful golden retriever and the pride of Liam’s eyes. He and his wife, Darla, had adopted her a few years ago. He didn’t know how much he could love a dog until her. And even more, he had no idea how smart they could be.
Pearl was a genius, so he searched for dog shows and competitions and started training her. Soon, she was winning everything in the entire county, and Liam couldn’t be happier. It was a nice break from the monotony of his desk job.
Pearl was also the sweetest girl, and everyone in the neighborhood loved her. She had probably spotted him across the street and wanted to make a new friend.
“Hey, girl. You’re not supposed to go out without my permission,” he called out as the dog ran to him. He turned to explain to Brock about Pearl, but the man was not by his side anymore. “Brock?”
“GET THAT THING OUT OF MY LAWN RIGHT NOW!” Liam heard a strong, angry shout.
“What?” he said quietly, stunned by the outburst. But he took hold of Pearl’s collar and approached the neighbor’s front door.
To his surprise, Brock was on his couch with his legs up. His hand was on his chest, and sweat beaded his entire face. Liam thought his new neighbor was having a heart attack and wanted to help. “GO AWAY! GET OUT OF MY HOUSE WITH THAT FILTHY ANIMAL!”
Liam’s eyes widened in shock. He had never witnessed anyone reacting like that to his dog. Pearl was a sweetheart. She wouldn’t hurt a fly. “But Brock, wait. She’s friendly. I –”
“GET OUT! GET OUT! GET OUT!” Brock continued yelling in outrage, and Liam couldn’t do anything but leave. He went to his home, gave Pearl a treat because he felt terrible that someone had called her filthy, and stared out the window.
He was still concerned about his new neighbor, but Brock came out of the house carefully a few minutes later, grabbed something from his car, and went back inside.
“Sounds like the neighbor had a panic attack,” Darla said when he recounted what happened later that day.
“A panic attack about Pearl? That’s impossible,” Liam scoffed as they put away the groceries she had bought. He turned to his girl, who was lounging on the couch, but she had perked her ears after hearing her name.
“Not everyone likes dogs, Liam,” Darla smiled.
“It’s not just ‘not liking dogs,'” he said, using air quotes. “He was shouting and had his legs on the couch as if Pearl was going to eat him or something.”
“Well, let’s just keep Pearl away from him,” she told him pointedly.
“For sure,” he agreed, and they moved on.
A few days later, Liam was training Pearl in his front yard. However, his next-door neighbor’s twin girls, Betty and Barbra, had decided to come over to play with his dog. He allowed it because seeing them having fun with his excellent girl was fantastic.
Their mom, Olive, had also come over and asked Liam about the coming competition. They also discussed other things like the upcoming neighborhood potluck and how her kids were struggling with math. It was a pleasant afternoon until they heard someone yelling.
“Get that dog away from those girls! It’s dangerous!” they turned to see Brock halfway out of his car, pointing at them.
“What?” Olive wondered, confused.
“Brock, it’s ok. Pearl won’t hurt those girls,” Liam called out, using his hands to frame his mouth.
“NO! GET THEM AWAY FROM THE DOG!” Brock yelled some more, and the twins approached their mother in fear.
“Brock, you’re the one scaring the kids. They’ve played with Pearl many times. She’s a good dog. She doesn’t hurt anyone,” Liam said, getting more peeved. Being scared of dogs was one thing. This was just… harassment.
Pearl had been distracted by a ball, but she saw Brock and wanted to go to him. “NO!” the man yelled and got back in his car, closing the door tightly.
“This is just ridiculous,” Liam threw his hands in the air, recalling Pearl and holding her by the collar. “There. I have her. You can go to your house and mind your business!”
“This was attempted murder, officer!” Liam almost wailed.
“What’s going on?” Olive asked, shielding her girls from the new neighbor.
“He’s like deathly afraid of dogs for some reason,” Liam
Then, they saw Brock exit his car and point a finger at them once again. “If that thing comes near me or my house again, I will make it disappear! Do you hear me?”.
That statement raised Liam’s hackles for real, and he wanted to yell obscenities at the new neighbor. However, he heard Betty start crying in fear and didn’t want to scare her more.
He could only give Brock a threatening stare before ushering Olive, the twins, and Pearl inside his house. Olive managed to calm one of her girls, and they played with Pearl again. Darla hadn’t seen the entire exchange but heard the last part.
“He wants to hurt our dog?” she asked quietly in the kitchen, where she, Olive, and Liam shared some coffee and cookies.
“That’s what he said,” Olive muttered, unhappy.
“If he or anyone ever hurts Pearl, I don’t know what I’ll do,” Liam shook his head, but Darla grabbed his hand comfortably, and they tried to put the subject away.
His wife yelled through the phone, and Liam knew something was wrong immediately. She wasn’t prone to hysterics and was usually the voice of reason in their house. Something terrible must have happened for her to call him in the middle of the day and shout in such a tone.
He was out of his chair and picking up his things at once. “What’s wrong?”
“Pearl is sick! Something is wrong. She came into the house and started vomiting, breathing too hard, and almost couldn’t walk. I’m taking her to the vet right now!” Darla explained, trying to calm herself.
“I’ll meet you there!” he promised and rushed away. He would explain things at work later.
“I can’t be sure exactly what happened, but this dog ingested poison,” their trusted vet, Dr. Carrigan, nodded. They were already treating her with I.V. medications and were running some blood tests.
“Poison? No,” Darla said, her voice choking up as she covered her mouth.
“What kind of poison?” Liam asked, pulling his wife closer as many things ran through his mind.
“Where you guys killing some rats lately?” Dr. Carrigan.
“No. We don’t buy stuff like that,” he replied.
“Well, I’ve seen her symptoms, and it’s usually rat poison. I’m running some tests right now. We’ll be sure in a few hours,” Dr. Carrigan patted Liam’s arm and went to check on some other pets.
“Liam…,” Darla said into his shoulder. “Did someone poison Pearl?”
“I don’t know,” Liam responded, his voice barely a whisper. “But I’m going to find out.”
Once the veterinarian confirmed what kind of poison was used and that Pearl would luckily recover, Liam decided to go home, leaving Darla to watch over Pearl at the animal hospital. He had too much pent-up rage to think straight, but he knew one thing: Brock had poisoned his dog.
He knew it in his heart, and he had to find some kind of evidence. He didn’t know if animal cruelty laws in his state would get him arrested, but he needed to find any sort of evidence. Therefore, he searched his entire home for clues about what Pearl had eaten. However, there was nothing. He even checked his trashcans, but there was nothing..
His neighbor had yet to come home from work, so he decided to snoop and went directly to his trashcans. To his complete horror, a vial of rat poison was sitting on top of everything else. Clear as day.
Liam tried to think clearly instead of letting his anger control him. So, he grabbed his phone, snapping pictures of the poison, just in case, and then called the police.
When Brock got home, Liam had already talked to two officers about him. His neighbor parked on the driveway and got out with a frown. “What’s going on? What are you doing on my lawn? I hope your stupid animal is not here,” he stated, and Liam didn’t move.
“What’s going on? You poisoned Pearl! You worthless piece of –” he started, but one cop, Officer Moore, interrupted him.
“Gentlemen, let’s be civil. Sir, where have you been in the few hours?” the cop asked Brock.
At work,” he shrugged. “Obviously.”
“Can anyone corroborate that, sir?” the policeman continued.
“Several coworkers,” he replied. “Can someone tell me what’s going on?”
“Sir, your neighbor’s dog was poisoned with rat poison, and he just found a vial of the same substance in your trash can. He also told us you threatened to hurt his dog a few days ago. Is that true?” the second cop, Officer Stalling, asked.
“What? No! I did say that, but I didn’t mean it. I’m afraid of dogs and didn’t want that one to hurt the twin girls. But I would never harm anything,” Brock stated, and Liam couldn’t take his lying.
He moved farther away in case his anger took over, and Officer Stalling followed him. “What’s the procedure, officer? Is there anything I can do? I know my dog is fine, but this is so unfair.”
“You’ve met Pearl before,” Betty announced.
“Well, we can bring him down to the station for questioning because of the evidence. But I must warn you. Your neighbor will most likely get off easily. This is only considered a misdemeanor, and his lawyer could argue that the rat poison in his bins is only circumstantial evidence,” the cop stated carefully.
“What can I do?” Liam wondered, rubbing his hand on his forehead. “I almost lost my girl.”
“My advice is to get a lawyer. At the very least, you can get your vet bills covered and possibly some compensation. I’m not exactly sure,” Officer Stalling advised.
“This was attempted murder, officer!” Liam almost wailed.
“Sir, dogs, and pets are considered property in the eyes of the law. The laws are changing, but I don’t see how this could go any other way,” the cop shook his head sympathetically.
“Thank you for coming,” he told him, regardless.
He saw them ushering Brock to the squad car. His neighbor went willingly. Liam had no idea what he had told the cops, but he wasn’t handcuffed
When the cops left, he went home and called his lawyer.
“Mr. Berstein told me basically the same thing as the cop, Darla,” Liam complained to his wife at the animal hospital. “We can try to press charges, but the evidence is flimsy. I wished we had installed a Ring bell. All we can do is file a civil lawsuit against Brock and try to get money.”
“I don’t care about money,” Darla shook her head.
“I know, but we have to do it. There should be some kind of punishment for this. I can’t let this go,” Liam stated, putting his hands up. “We can’t let him scotch-free.”
“OK. Let’s do it,” Darla nodded, grabbing his knee tightly. “For Pearl.”
“For Pearl,” Liam looked at her and finally broke down in tears.
They took Pearl home the following day, and she needed some medication, but luckily everything went well. Olive’s twins were distraught when they heard what happened, so they came over quickly to check on the dog. Pearl was happy to see the kids, and Liam and Darla were thankful she was moving again.
I hear you missed the competition,” Olive commented at some point.
“Oh, right. I didn’t even call them to explain,” Liam said, hitting his forehead. “I was so busy.”
“It’s OK. I just feel so scared that someone in our neighborhood would do that. Other people have dogs and cats. What else could happen?” their kind neighbor worried.
“We have to find an animal rights group and try to change the law,” Darla suggested. “We need people to understand that dogs are not property. They should be considered equal to people. If we had lost Pearl… I can’t even imagine.”
“That’s a good idea,” Olive nodded, and they talked about the subject for a few more hours.
Liam wasn’t willing to back down against his neighbor, although Brock had hired his own lawyer to handle the case. Eventually, the investigation determined that the evidence wasn’t too reliable. They couldn’t even find security footage from his neighbors to prove that Brock had fed Pearl anything.
His new neighbor had seemingly never approached his dog, yard, or anything. So, the charges were dropped. But after contacting some animal rights groups, Liam and Darla took to the press about what happened and how laws needed to change.
They also went ahead and filed a civil lawsuit. With all the scrutiny and the hate Brock received from random people and his neighbors, he eventually agreed to settle, paying Pearl’s vet bills and adding some money.
When the dust settled, Liam started training Pearl again. It had been a few months since the incident. They had missed several competitions, but he was eager to begin working with Pearl again. She was happy to prance around the makeshift course he had in his yard.
Olive’s twins were watching, enthralled, and Darla was on the front porch to keep an eye on everything. Suddenly, they saw a fancy red convertible park in front of Olive’s house.
“Oh, Mrs. Griffin!” Barbra exclaimed, and they saw an elegant woman exiting the car.
Liam recognized her immediately as Olive came out to greet her. “Oh, I’ve seen that woman at competitions, too. She has a French bulldog. Adorable,” he told Darla, who had gotten off the porch.
Suddenly, Olive and her friend walked toward them. “Hello, this is my good friend Joanna. These are my neighbors, the beautiful people fighting for animal rights. You’ve seen on the news,” his kind neighbor introduced.
“Oh, Liam. Of course. We’ve seen each other at dog shows, you know?” the woman said, extending her hand.
“Yes, I remember you and your cute dog. Princess, right?” Liam smiled, shaking her hand.
“Yes, Princess is my baby. And where’s Pearl? I remember her well. She always won everything,” Joanna laughed.
“She was just here,” Darla turned, searching for Pearl. The golden retriever has unexpectedly gone into the house. She tried calling her with kissing and snaps, but she wouldn’t come out. “I don’t know why she’s acting shy.”
“I couldn’t protect her. It was too fast,” Brock revealed.
“Well, it’s alright. I can meet her some other time. I just wanted to say that you two are doing a wonderful job. The laws need to be changed immediately. We can’t have anyone getting away with poisoning our dogs. It should also be a real crime with jail time,” Joanna stated vehemently.
“That’s what we’re trying to do,” Liam nodded happily.
“You’ve met Pearl before,” Betty announced.
“What?” Joanna looked down. “Sure, at competitions, maybe. But I’ve never been that close to her.”
“No, you came to visit Mommy, and I saw you petting Pearl and giving her treats,” the twin continued, and all the adults frowned.
“You must have mistaken me for someone else,” Joanna continued, but Liam was paying close attention.
“No, it was right next to your car. I remember because I drew it,” Betty insisted.
“Oh, I have a picture of that drawing on my phone,” Olive said, pulling it out of her pocket and showing them. “You must’ve forgotten about it, Joanna.”
“Maybe,” she said, and her voice shook almost imperceptibly.
“Olive, did you take that picture as soon as Betty drew it? Can we see the date?” Liam asked, and Darla’s eyes flashed to his face.
“No need. Betty puts the date of all her drawings on the paper,” Olive said, not catching on to what Liam and Darla were thinking as she scrolled through the gallery.
There it was. A drawing of Joanna with Pearl in front of their car on the exact same date Pearl got sick.
Usually, their dog was so well-behaved that she was allowed to roam around the neighborhood freely. They had restricted that since the poisoning..
“Tell me, Joanna. Did Princess win the last dog show?” Darla asked, looking slowly at Olive’s friend.
“Well, yes. But… but,” she stuttered.
“But what?” Darla continued, and finally, Olive noticed that something was wrong.
“You don’t mean… Joanna, did you do something?” she asked her friend.
“NO! That’s preposterous! I would never,” she said, fake-outraged. “I’m going leave. I didn’t come here to be accused of anything.”
Oh no. You’re not leaving. I’m calling the cops right now,” Liam said, putting his smartphone to his ears. Joanna sprinted to her car, but Darla and Olive were behind her. They pinned her to the hood with all their strength and took away her keys.
Once Officer Stalling and Officer Moore arrived, Liam explained everything, showing him the drawing and what Betty had seen. Darla and Olive had to let go of Joanna, but she couldn’t leave with the cops there, and Olive still had her keys.
There’s not much we can do here either, sir,” Officer Stalling rubbed his chin.
“Can you check her car?” Darla suggested, reaching for the trunk. “I saw on a cop show that you can do if you think the perp has contraband.”
“Ma’am, what kind of contraband do you think is there?” Officer Moore asked but went with her.
“Rat poison,” Darla nodded.
“Alright,” Officer Moore said, not expecting anything. To their shock, there was actual rat poison in her truck, which, coupled with the evidence against her and her attitude, made the cops arrest her. This time, Liam wouldn’t rest until the truth came out.
He went to all his neighbors, asking to see their security cameras. One managed to find a video of Joanna’s fancy red car driving to Olive’s house on that date. So, that was confirmation of her presence.
Other neighbors tried to pull their camera footage. They didn’t notice anything previously because they had been looking for Brock only. However, the neighbor next to Brock’s house discovered something as well. You could see Joanna giving Pearl treats in a small left corner of the footage.
Afterward, the woman ran across the street, did something off-camera, and returned to her car, fleeing the scene. Cops theorized that she had dumped one of the rat poison vials in Brock’s bins to frame him for the crime.
This time, the department didn’t drop the charges, and Joanna was prosecuted for animal cruelty and sentenced to six months in jail. It wasn’t enough time, in Liam and Darla’s opinion. But they couldn’t do anything else. That was the law.
Liam tried apologizing to Brock several times, but his neighbor avoided him like the plague. Therefore, he went to press again, explaining the situation and how they were all tricked into believing their neighbor had poisoned the dog by someone who only wanted her dog to win competitions. He apologized to Brock publicly.
The public was mad again and praised Liam for apologizing. The morning after that news segment, there was a knock on their door.
“It’s Brock,” Liam told Darla. “Hold Pearl so he doesn’t get scared.”
Once Darla had their dog, he opened the door and smiled at Brock. “Hey, man, I’m so sorry,” he said before his neighbor could speak.
“I saw the news. Thank you for telling the world the truth,” Brock nodded. “I’m… sorry, too. I shouldn’t have threatened your dog. I’ve been working with my therapist to get better. And the truth is that you did what you thought was right.”
“No, we assumed. We went too far,” Liam shook his head, ashamed.
“No, you didn’t. I would’ve done the same. I would do anything to protect my family. Pearl is your family. The thing is… my sister was attacked by a dog when we were little. Our neighbor had a secret dog fighting ring, and one of his angry dogs got out. I couldn’t protect her. It was too fast,” Brock revealed.
“My father got the neighbor charged with involuntary manslaughter. They then discovered the dog fighting ring and put most of the dogs down. Thanks to therapy these last few months, I realized it was all the neighbor’s fault, not the actual dogs. But I still have the image of my sister in my head,” Brock explained.
Liam was looking down, and he heard Darla silently crying.
“We’re so sorry. We didn’t know. We should’ve asked or been more thorough,” Liam lamented.
“When I saw Pearl playing with the twins, I was right back to my childhood. To that day,” Brock explained, choking up.
Liam opened his arms, and although Brock looked like a serious man, he accepted that invitation. They hugged for a while and cried silently.
Afterward, Darla invited him in. They left Pearl in their bedroom with some toys and music while they chatted. Brock told them more about what happened, how his therapy was helping, and how glad he was to hear they finally found the real culprit.
Throughout their chat, Liam and Darla apologized several more times until their neighbor went home. They let Pearl out and put her on a leash for a walk around the neighborhood. He and his wife were quiet for some time.
“Pearl got justice, honey,” Darla finally expressed thoughtfully.
“Yes, she did. It’s not enough, though,” he sighed.
“Then, we’ll keep fighting,” she added, looking at his face and holding his hand.
“Yes, we will,” he promised. And they’re still fighting today…