Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Poor Bella, caught in the jaws of justice

Register columnist

Saar_1She totally didn't do it.

There is no way that the defendant in the latest trial of the century is any way guilty. I'm not just saying that because she's a well-heeled hipster. I happen to think most celebrities who take the stand are guilty as all get-out - I mean, you went back to the restaurant to get your gunbut you didn't do it? C'mon!

The celebrity in question in this case simply couldn't have done it. Wouldn't have. She's too mild-mannered. Too good-natured. Too waggly-wonderfully furry.

Bella, the 7-year-old border collie mix with the adoring doggy smile, is the latest defendant to fall into the salivating maw of a media all too eager to sink its bared teeth into a juicy story.

It is not enough that Bella's name has been besmirched in the L.A. County Court system; now she has to suffer her whole sordid story being told in print by everyone from well, OK, I'm the only reporter writing about it, but you get the point: Not even a sweet border collie mix can escape the celebrity-trial machine.

I have never shared a bed with Bella, but had I, she wouldn't have laid a paw on me. Nor could she have possibly injured the woman who filed a six-figure lawsuit against poor Bella on allegation of severe ankle biting.

Yes. Six figures.

The story goes something like this: A professional celebrity dog-walker strolled two Weimaraners past the Hollywood Hills home of dear, old Bella. Bella's human, Keith - one of the greatest men on the planet - was not home at the time, and the housekeeper was taking the girl for a walk. According to the lawsuit, Bella, "without provocation or reason," "viciously and savagely" gave Dog Walker's ankle a good crunch, causing the kind of damage that will require plastic surgery and, apparently, a decade's worth of dog-walking fees to ameliorate.

We're supposed to ignore the fact that Bella's covered under homeowners' insurance and therefore has some deep doggy pockets from which to pick. Dog Walker refused a settlement offer and has decided to take this thing to trial, even if that means hiring a doggy behaviorist to evaluate Bella's personality and - I'm not making this up - subpoenaing the Weimaraners to determine whether their jaws better match the wounds on her ankle.

"This is dog-biting 'CSI,' " said Bella's barrister, Laguna Beach attorney Thomas Quinn.

"I've had people transported from the men's colony in San Luis Obispo to appear for trial, but I've never had to look into subpoenaing somebody's dog," Quinn said. "When you take the totality of the circumstances surrounding this case, it's a little goofy."

Goofy? Bella has an attorney. No kidding it's goofy.

Not only that, but Bella has a character witness list two pages long that includes actors, the bartenders at Birds, Hollywood moguls and, if needed, my dog, Sketch. Sketch, who has been known to cavort and snuggle with Bella, refused comment for this column because she doesn't speak to the press. (Actually, she doesn't speak at all. But she can flop her ears in front of her eyes in a way that would make your heart melt. And that should be good enough for any jury.)

I know Michael Whatshisname and Phil Spectowhatever will likely dominate the news for a few more months. But next spring, when Bella's trial is set to start, the media will be looking for a new celebrity nose to rub in the stink.

When it invariably turns on poor Bella, just keep in mind that the sweet fuzz ball has never shoplifted, killed a spouse or participated in insider trading. I don't want to see her mug on "E! True Hollywood Stories."

I just hope that once this winds its way through the justice system and through the court of public opinion, Bella will no longer have to measure her every bark. She will be free to beg at a table without being construed as manipulative. She'll be able to bite the fleas on her bum without someone arching a brow.

She'll have her life back. She'll have her good name restored. And like every defendant who licks her privates in public, she'll have her dignity.

No comments:

Post a Comment