Pit bulls get a bad rap. They can be the sweetest and most loyal dogs in the world, full of love and a desire to please their owners. Like any dog, though, they can also be vicious and mean in the wrong circumstances. We don’t know a lot about the four pit bulls who entered through the fence of Texas City’s Steve Baker and killed his pet beagle, but what is being reported about about their owner, Emerald White, is sparking outrage. 

White filed a $1 million lawsuit against Baker for “failing to securely confine” Bailey, Baker’s now-dead beagle: 

Emerald White says in her lawsuit filed this week in Galveston County district court that she was “seriously injured” on Oct. 27 trying to stop the attack and retrieve her dogs. She says she suffered “multiple serious bite and scratch-type injuries” and accuses her neighbors of failing to securely confine and restrict their dog, Bailey.

The lawsuit was filed ten days ago, and since then it has pinged around the Internet, generating a lot of reader backlash. According to news reports, White’s dogs broke through Baker’s fence and attacked Bailey, who died shortly thereafter. To most casual observers, that makes Baker and his beagle the victims of—at the very least—an unfortunate circumstance. Not a ripe target for a lawsuit. If anyone failed to securely confine their dogs, the thinking goes, it’s probably the person whose dogs broke into a neighbor’s yard, not the person whose yard may have had a hole in the fence, but whose pet remained on the owner’s property. 

There are comments on just about every story involving the case expressing outrage, for obvious reasons. The idea that someone’s pit bulls could kill your dog in its own yard, and you might owe them a million dollars, is pretty hard to stomach.

And, according to the Galveston Daily News, Baker couldn’t stomach it, either: He’s withdrawn an insurance claim that would have settled the lawsuit, vowing instead to fight it in court. 

Last week, [Baker’s attorney Angel] Hagmaier described the lawsuit as “frivolous” and something that “makes a mockery of the legal system,” according to court documents she filed Nov. 20. 

That’s why Baker does not want his insurance company to settle, he said.

“If this case was something even close to legitimate, I would let it go,” Baker said. “But this is a money grab.”

Baker alleges that the injuries White received are from her own dogs, or were sustained when she crawled through the hole in his fence to retrieve her pit bulls. He also says that, should White drop her suit, he won’t counter-sue her. Mostly, it seems, he doesn’t want the woman whose dogs broke through his fence to kill his beagle to get a payout from his insurance company as a result. 

(Beagle image via Flickr)