As many of you know, dogs are some of my most beloved friends and companions. This past month, however, I’ve seen their dark side.
I became embroiled in a “dangerous dog” case. It involves an unneutered male of a breed known for being independent and possibly having aggressive tendencies. This particular dog has become increasingly aggressive over time. He’s unlicensed, never has a collar on, and is never confined. Despite living on a fairly busy street, he’s managed to successfully dodge cars. He’s been seen roaming as far away as 10 miles from home.
While running loose (now, with another dog as a partner) this fall, he became even more of a nuisance. He’s been eliminating on people’s houses, defecating on their steps, threatening their dogs and starting to harass livestock.
People spoke to the owners about the need to confine this dog and the tragedies that could result. Obviously they didn’t care. Early one Tuesday morning, this dog became a suspect in the killing and wounding of a group of ducks. These ducks were used by dogs for herding training. The hapless ducks probably didn’t even panic at first, since they were used to being around friendly dogs. Those ducks who survived this attack may never work again.
The dog wasn’t caught then, but numerous people saw him. The owner said his dog had not been outside. According to the law in many states, dogs harassing or killing livestock can be shot on sight.
Later that same day, even while the dog control officer was taking a statement from the owner, the dog in question returned to the place where the ducks had been killed and attempted to get into the sheep’s pen. Fortunately, he was spotted before he could get in and was chased off. But he threatened, growled, and bared his teeth at the adult human who chased him off.
It was obvious that this dog had simply returned to kill again, as such dogs will. The owner agreed to take the dog to the humane society.
But the man did not take his dog to the shelter. He gave him away, instead! This dog will return and he will kill again. (He’s never in his life been confined and has roamed widely, as already mentioned.) It turns out he was already a suspect in the killing of a deer.
As I type, this dog’s rabies status is unknown. His owner won’t reveal his whereabouts, so we had to involve a sheriff and a judge. There was a hearing, where it became known that the dog had, months earlier, bitten a young boy in the face. This resulted in a trip to the emergency room for the child, where he was sutured. The boy will, obviously, have a scar. Unfortunately, the chain of communications between the hospital and public health officials broke somewhere down the line. Otherwise this dog would probably have been removed as a threat after the attack on the boy.
Is this a bad dog? Probably not. In the right hands — neutered and raised with care, training and socialization, he might have been a terrific dog. A very experienced, conscientious owner might have been able to steer him in the right direction. But now the dog awaits a decision on his fate: euthanasia or lifetime confinement in a secure, fenced enclosure.
The dog clearly shows a link (at least in his case) between aggression toward other animals and aggression towards people. Many dogs are aggressive towards other dogs, but wonderful with people. But this dog crossed the line. He represents a classic case of all that can go wrong in the partnership of man and dog.
After almost five full weeks, this case was finally resolved. The owner didn’t want to confine his dog (I have to admit, it would have been a rough life for a dog accustomed to running free), and agreed to have the dog euthanized.
Please train, neuter and confine your dogs. Any dog can get loose a few times by accident, but an untrained dog who runs loose all the time is a disaster waiting to happen. In addition, many states or municipalities have leash laws and regulate where a dog can run free.
Many dog attacks could be prevented with the simple use of a leash. Each time a dog runs loose and damages property, or frightens or harms people or other animals is another justification for the people who want to strictly regulate or even eliminate pets. Be a responsible pet owner so that you can be a pet owner!