Ethics Quiz: You Now Know That Your Neighbors Are Irredeemable Creeps—Now What?

“Now that you are all grown up, I want to tell you about the Duffs, and you can decide what to do…”

And you think you have rotten neighbors! Meet the Duffs.

Scott and Roxanne Duff of Leechburg, Pennsylvania found their neighbor’s Golden Retriever and new Rottweiler puppy  wandering in their yard. They called the police, who said to describe the dogs and hand them over to a local animal shelter. They finally returned the Golden to the owners, who lived on the same street, but told the police and the owners that the puppy had run away. Actually, the Duffs were in the process of trying to sell the Rotty on Craig’s List.

The next day, the owner of the dogs called police to say he had heard that the puppy was still at the Duffs’ house, as someone reported seeing it in their yard. Police inquired, only to be told, “Puppy? What puppy?”  Eventually the Dastardly Duffs confessed to selling the dog for $50. The puppy was duly retrieved from a Pittsburgh woman who police said was unaware of the theft, and reunited with its owner.

Obviously, the Duffs are awful neighbors, untrustworthy, venal and mean. No mystery about that. And they are now  charged with not making a reasonable effort to return lost property, two counts of conspiracy, and filing false reports. Presumably, however, this won’t keep them off Second Street for long, so your Ethics Alarms Quiz question is this:

If you are the owner of the puppy, what is the ethical way to treat these  black-hearted neighbors from now on?

Do you inform other neighbors about what they did? Do you move? Do you forgive them? Go on as if nothing happened? Watch their every move to see if they are keeping kidnapped teenaged girls chained in the garage?

Let me know.


Pointer: Legal Blog Watch

Facts: Trib Live

Graphic: Denali Rottweilers


23 thoughts on “Ethics Quiz: You Now Know That Your Neighbors Are Irredeemable Creeps—Now What?

    • If you live next to people who are so unethical that they will literally steal your dog and sell it away from you, its not a far stretch to consider them a potential security risk. I doubt they would have any qualms about exploring an unlocked door or window and helping themselves to any valuables they find because to them its clearly finders-keepers. Reminding them that your armed and have no hesitance in using force to defend you home, may prevent any such night time excursions on their part. That Security 101 – dont be a soft target. With neighbors like this, it would seem prudent.

  1. Get a better fence! If neighbors ask, they are in the right to tell their tale. Seems unethical to post flyers, but I wouldn’t be surprised and I’d understand if it ‘came up’ at the block party, though.

    • I’m with Zoe on this one. When Irredeemable Creeps(tm) are allowed to pose as ordinary harmless people, it only gives them license to do further harm to others who put trust in them out of ignorance. Nothing more needs to be said than the facts–people can make up their own minds.

      So I’d have a big ol’ sign in my front yard that started off with “Have you seen this dog…”

      “…on eBay?”


  2. I wouldn’t be surprised if they eventually had to move out of the neighborhood. I’ve been in this same situation before. We had to sell a perfectly lovely home about 10 years ago because some neighbors continued to pester us. They started out by setting traps. which were illegal, for our cats. Then they progressed to calling the cops for alleged parking violations in front of our own home. The guy causing all the trouble had friends on the police force and was also best friends with the city judge. They seemed to think he could do no wrong. He even bragged that he could get us into a lot of trouble any time he wanted too. We eventually reached a point where we felt it wasn’t worth living there anymore. We sold our home and moved to a new neighborhood. Our present home is nice, but not as nice as the other one, but the neighbors are great, friendly and supportive. That means a lot and at the present time we have no plans to move again.

  3. You simply confront them in person! You tell them you know what they have done, that you will continue to watch them and you expect that they behave like honorable members of society. You leave it at that, you don’t argue or harang them about it. If the actions go unaddressed by the individual who was harmed it only serves to build hostility and distrust on both sides. Once it is said out in the open it draws a line in the sand and it is clear to both sides what the expectation is.

    • I don’t think that is enough. The Duffs are cruel and untrustworthy, and other neighbors need to know that. The dog owners, however, should also take some responsibility for creating this situation. Most jurisdictions prohibit free roaming pets, and where it is not illegal, it is rude and irresponsible. Unsupervised pets can damage property and create hazards for children, drivers, and other animals. I’d take Becky’s block party suggestion a step further and turn this into a “teaching moment”: host a welcome home party for the dogs, invite all the neighbors (including the Duffs), and have a local animal control officer say a few words on what pet owners can do to protect their loved ones and what others should do when they find a lost pet.

      • It is more than enough, the Duffs were caught, and they will receive legal punishment. To start a flyer campaign or to disparage them to everyone serves no purpose but to further punish them and further the hostilities. It is best addressed by being stand up people and going to them in person, a far more powerful and useful thing then running around and tattling on them.

        • It’s not about disparaging the Duffs. It’s about protecting your neighbors, which I consider an element of being “neighborly.” I am not suggesting that anyone needs to be hostile to the Duffs. On the contrary, kindness and civility are also essential elements of neighborliness, but kindness and civility do not require silence. Other neighbors need to know of the dangers in their midst so they can exercise appropriate caution. To call that “tattling” suggests that the Duff’s behavior is the equivalent of school yard name calling. I don’t buy that.

          • It obviously is as what you propose can only lead to that. They have done what is required to protect their neighbors, they reported the crime and the police have taken action. If asked or in passing they should be honest about it, but to start some campaign against them is childish, they are thieves, and ones of opportunity, not child molesters. There is no reasonable excuse to take the actions proposed when the simple answer is just to confront them. Anything more in the lines of launching an information campaign against them is petty and will likely lead to much more strife. The most effective, direct and proportionate solution is simply to confront them, most people in this day and age just don’t have that skill, they are much more comfortable hiding behind the internet and fences.

    • This is all true, but in the case of the theft of a pet and then selling it those neighbors are not the sort of people who will respond reasonably. I would even expect that they would cause even more trouble. I do not know what the best or better solution would be, but I would definately warn my neighbors who were also my friends and present those friends with the facts. There was a time that that the local sheriff and possibly some other locals would have come a calling and had a very clear message for such people as these. I had such rotten neighbors once and they fell behind on property taxes and so some of the other neighbors and I paid up those taxes, seized their property and eventually had them evicted!

      • So your solution to bad neighbours is to force them into homelessness. I am stunned such a law even exists that allows you to do this. I must add it to my ever growing list of reasons I will never live again in the country I was born. This would put you so high on my crappy neighbour list that I think only the neighbours profiled on The Killer Next Door would be sitting above you.

        • The law doesn’t allow people to be evicted for being bad neighbors.

          However, I would imagine that any country has laws that would ultimately result in people losing their house for not paying either property taxes or mortgage.

          In the case mentioned, I would surmise that these people were evicted because they didn’t pay rent on the house — what remedy would you propose in that case?

          • What?!? Yes, the bank, landlord and/or the municipality have legal options with non-payment. Some of those options can include your losing your property. None of those options involve your neighbours being able to pay your back tax in order to throw you out. Which is what is described in the original comment – less any notes about unpaid mortgage or rent, added in your comment and not even considered in mine.

    • I totally agree. Confront them tell them you know what they did and that you wont stand for it happening again. Putting up flyers is avoiding being responcable. It allows people to feel like they are tough and standing up for themselves when in truth it allows them to avoid the unpleasent feelings that come with actually confronting someone in person.

  4. Um…what do these people do? Or what does the next person do?

    For these people, it’s easy. They print out high quality copies of this Ethics Alarms post, several newspaper entries and laminate them. They then construct a beautiful art piece that displays each article. Either that or they mail copies of the newspaper article to every neighbor.

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