colby pet column


In a police lineup of bad dogs, little Colby would be overshadowed by the big brutes.

“You’d need a magnifying glass to find him,” said owner Marcia Quast, formerly of Danville.

The 16-pound Jack Russell terrier is in trouble with the law in Brevard County, Fla. Because of a one-time incident — catching an 18-year-old cat, which died — he has been declared a “dangerous dog.”

Now, he’s being treated like a criminal under house arrest.

The situation has become so intolerable Quast wants to find a new home for the 4-year-old dog. She lives in Melbourne, Fla., but would be willing to drive him to Danville.

“He’s very loving. He’s a people dog,” she said.

The saga started in March when Colby somehow got out the fenced-in yard and attacked the cat. Quast isn’t sure whether Colby bit the cat or whether it died from the shock.

However, because of that isolated incident, Brevard County has brought down the full force of its strict animal regulations.

For example, notice the “bling bling,” as Quast calls it, on Colby’s neck. The red tag says “I bite,” the blue collar has his license tag, the yellow tag identifies his “bad dog” status and the red collar with the black transmitter is for a shock fence to keep him from getting out again.

He also has a microchip that can be scanned if he is found off property, and it shows his “bad dog” status, also.

Quast said, “If he is ever seen without the ‘bling bling,’ or if he is off the property without permission of the Animal Services, we get a $500 fine.”

The family has to carry a $100,000 insurance policy, which costs $900 per year.

They are required by law to have a “Bad Dog” sign with a picture of a dog on it at every entrance to their yard and home.

“Needless to say, there are no ‘Bad Dog’ signs with a Jack Russell on it, so everyone thinks we have a massive pit bull living with us,” she said.

Colby also is restricted to his home, and he can’t go anywhere without a muzzle and a 300-pound-strength leash. The only place he can legally visit is the vet.

“He can’t even go to PetSmart for grooming any more,” she said. “And you should see this dog with a muzzle and that heavy chain ... he’s miserable.”

Colby has always followed the law — he’s licensed and up to date with shots. The family always tried to keep both Colby and another Jack Russell — Jack, 4 — on their property.

But he just happened to get out that one time.

There is a leash law for cats, as well as dogs, but the cat was not registered or vaccinated, she said. She thought the cat’s owners might be held accountable, but they haven’t been.

When the incident happened, the family’s first reaction was to euthanize Colby, but then decided to appeal it.

The family boarded Colby with their vet during the appeal process, which took three weeks.

Besides the insurance, they’ve paid $155 for the citation, $400 to the vet for his care, $200 for a microchip, $300 annual fee, tags, license and preparation of their home to comply with the restrictions.

“We paid over $2,200 to keep the county from euthanizing him and now, with no other recourse, we may have to make that decision anyway. We can’t relocate him here simply because who would take on that responsibility?” she said.

“He’s not being treated fairly.”

Quast said her family rescued Colby from Connecticut more than two years ago. A rescue group in Michigan said it could not take Colby because he has killed an animal.

As a Jack Russell, Colby has a mind of his own.

“He’s like a teenager if you try to get him to do something he doesn’t want to do. He walks away, looking over his shoulder grumbling,” she said.

“If someone comes to visit, he frantically runs around looking for a toy to bring to the visitor so they can play. If he can’t find one of his 3.2 million toys, a rock, piece of mulch or paper bag will do.

“He hates cats and birds ... he’s a hunter, after all.”

But, he loves people and always wants to be right at the person’s side, demanding attention. He would be good for a retired person who needs a companion, she said.

Colby is neutered, gets along with other dogs and is registered as a Broken Coat Jack Russell Terrier, which means his white hair stands up and is waterproof and his dark hair is smooth.

Quast lived in Danville most of her teen and young adult years. She moved to Florida in 1986, but visits relatives, including sister, Geri Shirey, and brother, Ben Gabbard, often.

“I know that somewhere, in the Danville area, there is the perfect companion for Colby.

“I know the codes in Danville are not like ours, and we want him out of the state of Florida,” she said.

The family, including 11-year-old Emily and 16-year-old Katelyn, are heart-broken at the thought of losing Colby, but they have no other options.

Of course, it’s always tragic when a cat is killed by a dog. But I agree with Quast that these restrictions are going too far. Colby has served his sentence; let’s give him some credit for good behavior.

I hope this has a happy ending for Quast, but especially, for Colby.


If you’re interested in helping Colby, e-mail Marcia Quast at or call her at (321) 258-8620.

Contact Mary Wicoff at 477-5161, send an e-mail to or write to The Commercial-News, 17 W. North, Danville, IL 61832.

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