Deborah Ervin probably thought that she’d be spending a typical morning at the local dog park. But that all changed when she found a scared dog who appeared to have been abandoned by his owner. She didn’t think that the man would return – but he did. And when worried bystanders decided to confront him, his reaction left them stunned.
Ervin is a photographer and illustrator who originally hails from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She lives and works in Chicago, Illinois, and often takes her adorable Cavalier, Cooper, to the South Loop’s popular Fred Anderson Dog Park. A true animal lover, Ervin regularly shares updates about her pup on Facebook. In fact, she even launched a pet portrait business inspired by Cooper and her beloved late dog, Elliott.
On the morning of November 9, 2017, Ervin headed to the dog park with Cooper. There were several other pet owners around – and then another man arrived with his hound. After unleashing his dog, however, he left almost immediately. It was then that Ervin realized the pet had been left all alone.
Witnesses said it was clear that the canine was nervous and seemed to be confused about where his owner had gone. “He was there by himself,” one witness told CBS 2. “He was nervous. He was shaking. He was looking for his owner.”
The individuals in the park approached the friendly but stressed animal. That was when they discovered that he had no tag to identify him or his owner. Certain that no one would return for him, then, the concerned strangers decided to take action. Yes, Ervin knew exactly what to do in the circumstances.
Just in case the owner returned, Ervin waited ten minutes. At that point, she then called a contact in animal rescue to have someone come and collect the pup. “I felt he was abandoned,” Ervin explained to CBS 2.
But before anyone from animal rescue had time to arrive, Ervin was shocked to see the owner return. He then quickly went to leave with the dog as if nothing had happened. “While we were waiting for somebody to come pick him up, the guy did return,” Ervin said. “But it was a good 30 to 45 minutes before he returned.”
Ervin was extremely concerned for the animal, so she tried to explain to the dog’s owner that what he had done was wrong. However, the man refused to listen and became angry – so Ervin took her phone out and started recording. “You do not drop your dog off and leave,” she shouted at the man as he hurried away with his now-leashed dog.
The aggressive pet owner didn’t care about what Ervin had to say, though. Indeed, he was convinced that she couldn’t do anything about it. “You’re not a f***ing cop,” he yelled at her. Ervin therefore knew that she had to act fast or the man would escape and never be held to account.
In fact, she bravely kept the camera running and followed the man to his car – apparently without stopping to think about what could happen to her. As she filmed, Ervin explained for the benefit of viewers that the man had abandoned his dog. At the same time, though, she made sure to get clear footage of his face and the plates on his car. And as the man grew ever more furious, Ervin didn’t pause for a moment – even when he got in her face and shouted, “Get the f*** off my car!”
The shocking confrontation only got worse from there. The man bodily pulled the dog up by his leash and threw him into the back of the vehicle. He then turned toward Ervin and spat at her.
After getting into the driver’s seat, the man then made a feeble attempt to stop the offending video from ever seeing the light of day. He rolled down the window and tried to knock Ervin’s phone out of her hands. However, she held onto it tightly and continued to film him as he drove away.
Ervin later admitted that she hadn’t thought about her own safety during the unpleasant altercation. Her thoughts were purely focused on the poor pooch. “My only concern was about what he had done to the dog,” she said. Ervin later learned that the man had neglected the animal in this way before – and she didn’t want him to get away with it any longer.
She shared the video on Facebook and explained that people at the park had tried to calmly talk to the man before he lashed out. “This is not a man that you can have a conversation with,” she wrote. “Before I started to video, we tried to speak to him, and he immediately was defensive, angry and could only use foul language.”
When Ervin saw his reaction, she decided to document what was happening to provide evidence for the authorities. “The dog park is not daycare,” she wrote. “Another owner said that she has seen him do this before. Leaving the dog alone like this was irresponsible and dangerous for it.”
In the moment, Ervin had been incredibly brave. Afterwards, however, she said she would not be going back to the Fred Anderson Dog Park for some time. She also hesitated to speak out on the news but was persuaded that doing so might help. “I didn’t want to do it, for several reasons, but in the end if doing [it] can in some way help stop him and others from doing this, then it’s worth it,” she wrote on Facebook.
If other people saw a similar situation involving this or another dog, Ervin encouraged them to call 311 and have the authorities remove the canine from the park. “We don’t want somebody like this having a dog, first of all, and obviously acting that way in our community as a whole,” a fellow pet owner said to CBS 2.
Ervin was able to file a police report, as spitting at someone is classified as battery. Yet although CBS 2 said that the man had been identified, the police apparently weren’t looking for him. Still, Ervin hoped that people would speak up if they saw him repeating these actions in future.
Ervin received a flood of supportive comments for her actions. Facebook users called the man “disgusting,” “horrible” and “a monster.” Others warned her that she should be more careful, as she might have been attacked. But Ervin could only think about the well-being of the dog.
Although it took a lot of courage to capture the incident on camera and to share her story, Ervin hopes that her actions might help protect the animal and others in similar situations. “If this man is proven to be a repeat offender – obviously from the video he has some anger management issues – perhaps this will help to keep this very sweet pup safe,” she wrote. “Thanks everyone for the support. I didn’t do anything that all of my dog lovin’ friends wouldn’t have done.”