My wife and I live in a small apartment at the back of our landlords’ lot. They are a sweet, retired couple who have been very kind to us. The back door of their house faces our front door, and we walk past it when we come and go. One morning we decided to take our dog on a quick walk before leaving for work, which we don’t normally do. When we returned, as we came around the back of the landlords’ house we caught the man with his pants down, apparently having sex with his dog. He very quickly stood up, pulled up his pants, and acted as if he was just tying his shoe or something. We said good morning and quickly scooted back into our house. My wife and I both asked what the other saw and we were in agreement that him having sex with the dog is what it was. Should we just move out quietly or stay and pretend nothing happened? Do we tell his wife? Do we confront him directly? We are afraid we could get kicked out for speaking up. But I am afraid for my wife’s safety. They live with and take care of several young grandchildren and I am afraid for their safety, too.
— Grossed Out
Yes, your landlord just screwed the pooch. The answer to what you do is contained in your letter: You are worried about the safety of your wife, his grandchildren, and presumably your dog. I think concern is justified when you’re describing someone with no sexual boundaries. What he’s done to his dog is likely illegal either under a specific bestiality statute or an animal cruelty law. This New York dog lover was sentenced to more than six years in prison for using his position as a building superintendent to repeatedly enter an apartment and violate the tenant’s Labrador puppy. As for what you should do, I spoke to Maia Christopher, executive director of the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers. She said often people who see sexual misconduct don’t want to believe their own eyes or don’t feel empowered to take action. (Thus is explained the life of Jerry Sandusky.) Christopher says that when shocking behavior comes from someone you know and like, it can be even harder to report, but she points out that seemingly nice people can also be sexually deviant. Christopher additionally raises the possibility that this grandfather may be showing signs of dementia. You have no evidence your landlord is harming his grandchildren — maybe his sexual attraction is limited to the four-legged — but the authorities need to investigate what’s going on in this home. So calling the police is the way to get this started. Obviously, doing so leaves you with no choice but to move out. It’s hard to imagine running into your landlord when you’re both out for an evening walk with your dogs. Surely you don’t want to find yourself saying to him, “I think Princess is looking a little peaked.”
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