April 19, 2004

A little advice needed (updated)

Yesterday I was involved in a ‘situation’ in our neighborhood, and I’m not quite sure how to deal with it.

A little background to start (I don’t have all the details, but this is the gist of it): late one night a year or two ago, a dog was barking for an extended period of time. It turned out to be a pit bull owned by a neighbor’s boyfriend and it had “gotten loose” in the front yard. Apparently it went after a pizza-delivery guy, who then called the cops, and when the officer arrived, the dog went after the cop. Bang bang, dead dog.

Fast forward to last week. I get home from work and some bozo is walking the neighborhood with two pit bull pups running loose. They’re not far from full-grown. I called out to the guy and walked up to talk to him. Trying to get the point across about keeping the dogs leashed without being a prick about it, I told him about the cop shooting the loose dog. His response was “yeah, that was my dog.” So much for learning the lesson. Sheesh.

I did see him walking the dogs another day, and they were on leashes.

My front yard is enclosed by a picket fence, and I let my dogs out there to play. My dogs are territorial, and will sometimes bark at kids running by on the sidewalk or riding their bikes. Most of the neighborhood kids are used to it, and they get along fine.

Yesterday our dogs were out front and suddenly we heard a huge commotion going on. I ran upstairs to see what was going on, and those two pit bulls were running free again and were at the fence barking at my dogs, who were nose to nose with them yapping right back. Our younger dog came inside immediately when called, but Sam the old-timer held his ground.

I went out and picked him up, and suddenly I was face to face with one of the pit bulls trying to come over the fence at me. Not even thinking about it, I stood there and stared down the pup while holding my dog under one arm, away from the fence. The pup retreated and I took Sam inside.

In the meantime someone had run to get the owners girlfriend, who was trying to get the pups back to her yard. I was pretty pissed off, so I said something I figured would get her attention: “Next time, I’m calling the cops.” Her reply was something along the lines of “I didn’t let them out on purpose.” I absolutely believe her, but still, those dogs went after mine in their own yard, and one of them almost came over the fence at me. Couple that with boyfriend letting them run loose, and it’s two strikes. We have too many young kids in the neighborhood to risk strike three. I don’t blame the dogs, but the owner(s) haven’t shown me that they’re responsible enough to keep dogs with that kind of damage potential.

Later I realized just how close it had been. If that dog had really wanted to get me, that picket fence would have been no barrier at all.

I’m now keeping a bat near the door, and the wife and Mookie have been instructed in no uncertain terms that if they see those pups running free, they’re to call the cops, and to make sure they mention “pit bulls”.

What would you do? Am I overreacting?

Update: Upon further reflection, I've refined the "standing orders" for Liz and Mookie. If that situation happens again, they're to look out the window before opening the door. If our dogs are alone in our yard, they can open the door (with the stick ready) and call our dogs in. If things aren't too crazy, they can step out onto the front porch but have to hold the door open just in case. No way do they let that door close behind them because they have to have a way to retreat if needed. I made it clear that I'd rather lose our dogs than have the ladies hurt. Also, the stick is more for distraction than for clubbing. Give the dog something to go after and buy a few seconds while getting back inside.

We know we'll probably never need to do this, but just knowing ahead of time what to do makes it easier to deal with.

I also pointed out that this is another situation where having a pistol and knowing how to use it would be helpful.

Posted by Ted at April 19, 2004 02:16 PM
Category: Seriously

Absolutely not. I would have the cops over every time you saw one of them running loose. Even if the police visit doesn't end with a dog being shot - eventually (and from the sound of it it mike take five or six times) the owner might get the message.

I don't know what the law is in your area, but at a minimum the owner should be cited and fined. Better yet, the animal control department should take them away.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at April 19, 2004 03:02 PM

Depending on local law, the cops may or may not be able to do anything. Call animal control first. Depending on pet restraint laws (i.e., do you have leash laws), they may be able to take the dogs and charge a fine for the owner to get them back. This serves as a good warning. Also, many areas have a one strike law for dogs and this would be viewed as a strike.

This frustrates me to no end because I go out of my way and expend cash on fences and such to keep my dogs restrained, but someone will let theirs run up to my yard without a second thought.

Posted by: SayUncle at April 19, 2004 03:30 PM

Youre not over-reacting. In California there's no one-bite rule. if those dogs bite anybody the owner is automatically liable the first time. They sound vicious and the owners need to assume responsibility. Its not an excuse that they didn't let them out on purpose and if they had bitten anyone, it wouldn't be a defense to a lawsuit.

Posted by: annika at April 19, 2004 05:03 PM

Lots of areas here require *by law* that pit bulls be muzzled in public or if there is a risk of them getting loose. Unmuzzled pit bulls that have escaped get put down. We used to have a neighbour with a pit bull that used to tackle all the roos in the area. After taking down three or four he made the mistake of taking the whole group and the old man roo took him out.

Posted by: Ozguru at April 19, 2004 05:31 PM

I'm glad you are handy with a baseball bat. Anyone who would be so irresponsible with two animals like that has no right to own them. Pit bulls are bred for a certain attitude, just like border collies. Buying a border collie when you live in a 12th floor apartment is stupid. Having two pit bulls running loose is criminally stupid. Or should be. It's bad for the dogs and bad for the neighborhood. Your neighbor's testosterone OD has shriveled what little brain he started with.

Posted by: Doug Pratt at April 19, 2004 06:27 PM

You tried to be a friendly, helpful neighbor, but what's to stop the little runts from coming back and terrorizing your well-behaved four-pawed friends and the humans who love them? I'd call animal control to find out what your options are, then give them a friendly warning about two vicious little pit bulls and the equally frothing-at-the-mouth boyfriend. :) Maybe they'll shoot him instead of the dogs!

Posted by: Dawn at April 19, 2004 08:13 PM

SayUncle - we've got a leash law for dogs, there isn't one for cats (go figure). Good idea about calling animal control ahead of time, they do make an occasional appearance, but I've never seen them actually collect an animal.

And I know what you mean about fences and such. Several of us in the neighborhood have put up picket fences in the past few years for just this reason.

annika - I really don't know if they're vicious or not. They still act like pups, and I wasn't scared when it happened. It was after it was all over that I thought about what might have happened...

Oz - a pet roo, now that's a thought! :)

Posted by: Ted at April 19, 2004 08:46 PM

Hell NO you weren't overreacting.

We had the same situation in our neighborhood and all it took to become a non-issue was for that big ol' dog to jump his fence and start charging for my husband and me.

Funnily enough, he reacted the same way I imagine most would when confronted with a .45 pointed right at them: he yelped and ran back home.

Posted by: Emma at April 19, 2004 09:46 PM

You didn't overreact at all.

Kat at Mostly Fluff just posted about a 12-year-old boy in her neighborhood who was mauled by a pit bull.

Here's the link:

Posted by: Cindy at April 19, 2004 11:11 PM

I think you did the right thing.
If there are rules or laws and somebody ignores them it is one thing to go over and talk to them, but when they keep on doing what they are not supposed to, you have to call the police or animal control.

Posted by: Blogeline at April 20, 2004 08:22 AM

Thanks Cindy for that link! What a frightening story.

Posted by: Ted at April 20, 2004 09:09 AM

If you're faced with one Pitt Bull in full feeding frenzy, grab its lower jaw with your left hand. the canine teeth will sink into the flesh, between the bones.
You can the put it in a choke hold (recommended, as otherwise it could "worry" your arm and cause severe wounds), poke its eyes out, or just cover its nostrils till it asphyxiates. If you weigh over 70 Kg, just fall on it and crush it.
Remember to *immediately* wash the wound well to remove saliva and seek medical attention before going into shock, or just gibbering in the corner.
Yes, I speak from personal experience. It worked for me, the dog survived and got muzzled thereafter, and no-one got seriously hurt.
It was a one-off, the dog owner was responsible, unlike your situation.
If faced by 2 pitt bulls - your baseball bat idea sounds good.
(Name witheld as I don't want to sound like some Macho idiot)

Posted by: Name Withheld By Request at April 20, 2004 09:11 AM

Chuck the baseball bat. That is a good way to get mauled or killed. Get a good form of defense. If it was good enough for the cop, it is good enough for you.

Posted by: Phelps at April 20, 2004 07:21 PM

Name Withheld,
Why in the world would I stick my left hand into the demon's mouth when I could - when it leaps at me - grab it's throat with two hands and just hold him up and choke him 'til he passes out? Granted he's a muscular bastard, but if I lock my elbows, he ain't gettin' his canines anywhere near my flesh.

Posted by: Tuning Spork at April 20, 2004 08:48 PM

In all the little scenarios running through my head, I keep coming back to a gun (best choice) or something in each hand. A small bat or club (I'm not talking about a full-size baseball bat) which is more for warding or giving an alternate target, and in the other hand something sturdy and pointed to stab with. Actually, I think a couple of umbrellas would work in a pinch, assuming you kept your wits and know from the start that the idea is that you're going to kill the dog. Eyes, behind the ribcage, right down the throat, whatever it takes.

Posted by: Ted at April 21, 2004 07:25 AM
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