Family calls for dogs to be banned in public parks after dog attacks

Family calls for dogs to be banned in public parks

On Monday, three-year-old Caidynce King was bitten in the face by a Rottweiler tied to the bleachers while his owner watched a baseball game.  Reports vary on the attack.

Three-year-old Caidynce King was also at the diamonds with her family but wandered away and “ended up coming behind these two dogs,” said Gord McMahon, a peace officer with City of Grande Prairie.

When the child fell on top of the larger dog, it turned and bit her, McMahon said. – CBC.ca

However, another report says the child was playing with two dogs when the attack occurred.  The parents claim that she was running past the dogs to her mother.  The owner claims that her dog had been around kids before and that the little girl approached the dogs.  She told CTV that she was jumping down to be with “Charlie” when the bite happened.  The dog that bit the girl will not be destroyed, but will be required to be strictly controlled and monitored.  The owner is being charged with having an animal that “bites, attacks or injures a person.” The violation carries a fine between $200 and $2,500.

From what I have read, I think this is failure on both sides.  Parents should never let their young children approach strange dogs, run past them or play with them in a manner that involves anything approaching roughhousing.  Dog owners should be paying attention to their dogs in a public area and aware of who is approaching them and what is happening around them.

Even if one party is stupid enough to encourage an unsafe child/dog interaction does not make it all right for the other party to just sit back and let it happen. – Me.

However, the Kings’ call for a banning of dogs in public parks is just absurd and fortunately, the city is not considering changes to the bylaw allowing on-leash dogs in city parks.  More little kids are killed by cars than by dogs, but I don’t see people lobbying to remove cars from the city streets.  I’m wondering whether this is guilt speaking, much like the Ranfones and their pet door warning crusade.  No, it shouldn’t happen to anyone, but it does and I’m scratching my head why the Kings think that banning dogs from public parks is better than ensuring that their child never approaches another dog without close parental supervision.

What to do if your Shiba is attacked by another dog

There’s plenty out there about how to prevent dog attacks, but there’s less out there about what to do if a dog is actually attacking your Shiba.  You may have seconds to react before your dog is seriously injured or killed.

I have previously told the stories of “Buddy” (my friends’ dog) and Tierce and have written about Bella and Kody as well as general stories about dog attacks.  When Buddy grabbed Tierce, all I did was stand there and repeat “Oh my God, Oh my God!” over and over again while they pried the two dogs apart.  Not effective.

All of these things I’m going to talk about do carry risk with them, no matter what they are.  Remember, anyone who gets into a dog fight stands a chance of becoming the target of any of the dogs involved, even their own.

A little distance ahead of us were some boys throwing sticks in the water for two Newfoundland dogs. Suddenly a quarrel sprang up between the dogs. They were both powerful creatures, and fairly matched as regarded size. It was terrible to hear their fierce growling, and to see the way in which they tore at each other’s throats. I looked at Miss Laura. If she had said a word, I would have run in and helped the dog that was getting the worst of it. But she told me to keep back, and ran on herself.

The boys were throwing water on the dogs, and pulling their tails, and hurling stones at them, but they could not separate them. Their heads seemed locked together, and they went back and forth over the stones, the boys crowding around them, shouting, and beating, and kicking at them.

“Stand back, boys,” said Miss Laura; “I’ll stop them.” She pulled a little parcel from her purse, bent over the dogs, scattered a powder on their noses, and the next instant the dogs were yards apart, nearly sneezing their heads off.

“I say, Missis, what did you do? What’s that stuff? Whew, it’s pepper!” the boys exclaimed. ~ Marshall Saunders, Beautiful Joe

I’m sure that most people aren’t going to walk around with pepper shakers, but there is a variety of pepper spray on the market for aggressive dogs.  Note that in Canada it is regulated and misuse can result in criminal charges (as it can in the U.S. and other countries, no doubt).  You also have to have a steady hand in order to hit the dog in the eyes and nose.  For that, you need to wait until the dog is really, really close.  Pepper spray is not a guarantee that the dog will stop attacking.

dogbreedinfo.com recommends carrying a walking stick, not to beat an attacking dog, but to “poke” it away.  Leerburg recommends carrying both a walking stick and pepper spray.

Unfortunately, when it comes to Shibas, it seems that American Pit Bull Terriers are involved in many of the attacks that leave the Shiba injured or killed.  Now APBTs are a special case.  They don’t have “locking jaws” or any nonsense like that, but they are very strong, unbelievably intense and have been bred for the express purpose of fighting other dogs.  APBT Rescue Central has tips on using breaking sticks and breaking up a dog fight (the website emphasizes never to use this technique on other breeds, which will just get you bitten).  One website emphasizes preventing the dog from shaking its head, which can be a main cause of damage and death (although not everyone wants to lie on an aggressive dog.  Just sayin’).

The problem with just about all of these methods is that they may not work and they may make you a target of the dog attacking yours.  All I know is that I completely freaked out when Buddy got hold of Tierce and I haven’t quite forgiven myself for that.  I hope that this list of suggestions helps other people or sparks comments that can give some good tips on the situation.

In Memory of Kody

A dog’s life cut short

Thursday, April 22, 2010:  The 9 year old red Shiba Inu was tied to a tree outside his owner’s home when the two dogs next door escaped through the front door.  The dogs, who had previously been involved in aggression towards another neighbour dog on March 9, went straight for Kody and attacked.  The larger one “broke the chain holding Kody and dragged his limp body two houses down.”

I don’t know what I would do if this happened to me.  When our friends’ dog “Buddy” attacked Tierce, I was frozen and luckily, my friends were able to control him.  That was also a case of owner error – Buddy had been attacked before and I should never have let Tierce just rush up to him, even on leash.  Both dogs were on leash and were easier to control – which you can tell was not that easy if you read that post.

But in this case, when the dogs were just allowed to rush out the door after being at large previously and showing aggression?  I’m pretty sure they would have to restrain me from going after the fucker who owned them.  When I read Kody’s story, I really wanted to take a trip to Woodbridge to beat her until she lived the rest of her life in pain.

Extreme?  Yeah, to a person who isn’t as bonded to their pets as I am, it might seem extreme.  However, despite all of these people bleating about vicious dogs and oh, what do we do, the population at large – in Canada OR the States is not rising up as a whole and demanding that people be held responsible for their dogs’ actions.  Note that this waste of skin was claiming that this was ‘the first time her dogs had done something like this’ when another resident of the area tried to testify that the dogs were running loose before and behaved aggressively towards her dogs.

When are we going to stop whining about this breed and that breed and hold people like Kari Baker responsible for setting them up so that they are in the position to harm others?

You might note that I didn’t make mention of the breed of dog that attacked.  That’s because the breed shouldn’t matter.  When we go of on tangents of “oh, this breed is evil!”, we ignore the fact that a human CHOSE to own this dog, a human CHOSE not to socialize and/or train it, a human CHOSE not to confine it properly.

I am so tired of the concept that people are somehow incapable of comprehending that their dog could cause trouble when allowed to run uncontrolled.  I am sick of the idea that people are allowed to drive cars and have children, but can’t be expected to know dog behaviour or the potential of their dog to hurt someone.  I am absolutely sick that someone can allow their dog to run loose habitually and not be at risk of anything more than a minor fine and a waggled forefinger.

You want things like this not to happen? Educate people in the schools.  Teach children how to deal with dogs as part of their curriculum.  Make the laws for uncontrolled dogs harsher.  Make the laws for uncontrolled aggressive dogs on the level with manslaughter.  Make irresponsible dog ownership so unpleasant that people avoid it because they don’t want to lose their homes, their livelihood and all their assets.

The Pit Bull Placebo

But wait!  This isn’t about Shibas!  It is, however, about dogs labeled as “bad” and the chronicling of their history.  This is something that all dog owners should be concerned about, as dangerous dogs – actually, dangerous owners – are a daily threat to some people and their Shibas, as Bella’s story amply illustrates.

This is a PDF and is quite a long read, but it is fascinating.

The Pit Bull Placebo: The Media, Myths and Politics of Canine Aggression

Remembering Bella

Bella

Bella

Remember Bella?  They still haven’t found her, but as far as I can tell, they are still looking.  There is information about the trial up on the Bella page.

It still boggles my mind that part of the problem with prosecuting this piece of shit is that “from the standpoint of felony liability, the DA had to prove Animal Control had clearly made the defendant aware he had an aggressive dog, or prove it had bitten before.  Regardless of what had happened in the previous attacks, Animal Control was not able to show they had clearly educated the defendant about the aggressive potential of his dog, even after 3 aggressive dog calls. “

If you decide to get a dog, I believe that by the very action of bringing a dog into your life, you are accepting the responsibility to educate yourself about your dog, it’s potential for damage and what you need to do to control it.  If this “man” can’t be expected to know that his dog is aggressive and uncontrolled, then why isn’t he in diapers and a playpen with all the other people who can’t be expected to take responsibility for their actions?

Bella’s owners, Steve and Terri Belsley and their new rescue dog, Sammy, live in San Jose, but this is an issue that should unite responsible dog owners everywhere.  I realize that judges have to operate within the law, but the point is that the law should never protect someone from being punished for not doing their duty by their dog.

What can we do about this?  Off the top of my head, I can think of a few things: Take an active role in dog ownership in your community.  Attend city meetings that concern dog owners and keep lobbying for stronger laws against irresponsible dog ownership.  Support laws that focus on the owners, not the breed or type of dog involved – we cannot afford to have the finger pointing in any other direction other than the people who choose to own dogs and not care for them as they should be cared for.

Is there anything I’m missing?  What else can we do or have done to protect ourselves and our dogs from malicious people who use their dogs as weapons?

Bella’s latest

Remember Bella, the Shiba who was attacked by a loose pit bull and is still missing?  Here’s the latest from her owner, Terri: Court update from 18 February 2009, Update on Sammy, and thanks to all of you

An excerpt:

However, from the standpoint of felony liability, the DA had to prove Animal Control had clearly made the defendant aware he had an aggressive dog, or prove it had bitten before.  Regardless of what had happened in the previous attacks, Animal Control was not able to show they had clearly educated the defendant about the aggressive potential of his dog, even after 3 aggressive dog calls.

Excuse me?  There isn’t a “Fucking Moron” clause somewhere that states when someone gets a dog, it is THEM, not the local government’s responsibility to educate themselves in the aggressive potential of their dog and adequate control measures? If this man had to be legally told, after several attacks and complaints, that his dog was aggressive and he should keep it under control, legally he should be kept in a diaper, his driver’s license taken away, and all of his possessions kept in trust for him, since he so obviously is mentally incompetent to keep them properly and responsibly.  (Come to think of it, that would be a great response to irresponsible dog owners.)

How is it that a dog owner who fails to do their duty to their dog and to their society is protected from punishment?  Why are people standing idly by and twiddling their thumbs with breed-specific-legislation while people like this CHOOSE to let their dogs run loose, to display aggressive behaviour and to inflict violence on people and animals alike? How fucking stupid ARE these people, who continue to whine about the “vicious pit bulls” and “savage rottweilers” and ignore the vicious, savage members of their own species who wilfully put them and their loved ones in danger?

Seems to me that our so-called intellectual superiority isn’t something we should boast of, when we aid and abet these criminals by refusing to consider their choice to endanger us  – and the animals who depend on them –  as the very serious of crimes.

A Warning

tiercesnarlI had a wake-up call a couple of days ago.  It’s hard to get it down here, because I feel so utterly ashamed of myself.

We have friends who own a pit bull.  “Buddy” is a lovely example of the breed; happy and friendly with people, but also with the single-minded intensity and dominance around other dogs that are hallmarks of the breed.  Despite this, he has had amicable relations with other dogs, so we thought he and Tierce should meet.

Buddy and his owners came around the corner of the house.  We were outside, because we thought it would be easier than in the house.  I brought Tierce forward on the lead to let them sniff noses.  Tierce was excited and went directly to Buddy… and Buddy grabbed him by the ear and Would. Not. Let. Go.  Tierce started SCREAMING and thrashing.  Luckily, Buddy’s owners were right on both the dogs and held them down so Buddy couldn’t shake his head and Tierce couldn’t thrash about too much.

At this point, I’m ashamed to say that I completely freaked out and could do nothing but alternately cry and scream, “Oh my God!”.  I couldn’t see how much damage Buddy was doing.  I couldn’t get in there because it would have made things more complicated, meaning worse, since Buddy’s owners were already in there and getting him to open his jaws.  Honestly, I don’t know what I would have done if I had been alone and I don’t want to know, because I broke down so completely.

They separated the two dogs and took Buddy to the car, while I got Tierce into the house. I was freaking out, my boyfriend was frozen with horror, my friends’ kids were hysterical and terrified that Buddy was going to be taken away or put down, and my friends had each been bitten by Tierce while he was freaking out from the terror and pain.

Amazingly enough, Tierce did not have a scratch on him.  It had been a warning.

But what a warning!  I was thinking of Bella, who is still at large.  I was thinking of all the pictures that I’ve seen of pit bull attacks.  Despite the fact that Buddy is a well-socialized, well-trained dog, he still took a long time (it probably was maybe 45 seconds to a minute) to let go and one of my friends had to stick his fingers down the dog’s throat to do it.

At this point, I would like to emphasize that this is NOT an anti-pit-bull post!  This was a huge human error on both sides.

Above all, I am kicking myself for not foreseeing this and protecting Tierce.  Buddy is a great dog, but he is a pit bull who has been attacked by other dogs before – it’s not strange that he would be on the defensive.  And, for an ABPT, defensive is usually a really, Really, REALLY good offensive. APBT have been bred for generations to fight other dogs and are very, very good at it.

Thank Dog my friends took the time to train and socialize him.  Thank Dog they were on the ball.  In the end, Buddy was a true APBT.  The only injuries that occurred were from Tierce and I’m going to give him a pass on that because he was hurting and scared.  Buddy never bit or threatened to bite his humans.  However, he would have severely injured or killed Tierce if things had not gone the way they did.

After this horrorfest, we got Tierce calmed down, Buddy calmed down and the kids calmed down.  After a visit from his “mom”, Buddy was a happy dog again.  Tierce was happy after I had the kids feed him a huge slab of turkey.  We dressed the wounds that Tierce made and spent a reasonably relaxed hour visiting… “So, anyway, how ya been?”

We also discussed the situation and came to the following conclusions:

Mistakes:

– Expecting Buddy and Tierce to get along because we wanted them to.  This was a big one, because we relaxed our guard around two male dogs, one an APBT and one an intact Shiba.

– Introducing the dogs near the house.  That was Tierce’s territory.  Out in the street or even farther would have been better.

– Bringing Buddy around the corner of the house to meet Tierce.  Surprising a dog with the presence of another dog is not always the best idea.  We would have done better to go out in the open where they could have seen each other coming.

– Letting Tierce come up to Buddy right away.  Keeping them separated to see their reactions could have clued us in to the fact that this was a Bad Idea.

– Not acknowledging the fact that Tierce is a very dominant dog and therefore is likely to approach other dogs in a dominant, in-your-face way.  Not something a male dog, especially a male APBT, is likely to take in good part.

– Forgetting that dogs often make decisions based on smell or minute behaviour that humans can’t easily detect.  Tierce’s entire demeanor up to the instant that Buddy grabbed him was, “Who the fuck are YOU?”  Buddy probably had figured that Tierce was going to try to take a chunk out of him well before Tierce came within touching distance.

I am heartily ashamed of myself for not stopping to think.  I could have easily cost Tierce his life or his left ear.   As it was, neither dog was hurt and the humans will recover.  I think my friends were scared – Buddy had never done that before.  I’m guessing he made the decision, after he was attacked by a loose Labrador, that a pre-emptive strike was best.

This was also an excellent lesson on the kind of responsibility that goes with the ownership of an APBT.  Buddy’s owners were prepared to deal with him and did not hesitate to act when things went south.  This is the kind of owner that a pit bull needs.  Buddy is a good dog who has a great temperament and who is owned by knowledgeable, prepared owners.  However, this great temperament is directed at people.  Dogs are a completely different ballgame, as we learned that day.  This incident proved that even the best owners can be blindsided by their dog; fortunately, Buddy’s owners acted immediately and saved Tierce from permanent damage.

Of course, if Tierce had been someone else’s dog, they could have easily blamed Buddy for the incident, because he is a pit bull.  It wasn’t Buddy’s fault. It was our fault, for not recognizing our dogs’ limitations and stress thresholds.  Unfortunately, since Buddy is a pit bull, the onus tends to be on his owners to prove that he didn’t start a fight or that the fight was the natural result of dog-to-dog dominance and not he’s-a-pit-bull-and-they-are-all-vicious-uncontrollable-dogs-that-should-be-killed.

In retrospect, Buddy acted exactly like a typical dog of his sex, age and breed would have acted.  In fact, given what we know about APBT, it was odd that a male pit bull in the prime of life, possessing all the speed and power gifted to his breed, latched on to Tierce and did not leave a single toothmark.  Maybe it was luck or maybe Tierce was very lucky that Buddy was socialized with other dogs in his youth and did not immediately go for a killing hold.

Repeat after me.  Dogs are not people.  Just because a dog gets along with people, does not mean s/he will get along with other dogs.  Shibas are very smart about a lot of things, but their comprehension of their size and fighting power is grossly exaggerated.  Shibas are little shits who will take a shaky situation and make it worse if they possibly can.  Despite the fact that Shibas are little shits, it’s the owner’s full responsibility to make sure they don’t pay the price for being said little shits.

So, if you have a dominant Shiba, be very careful about their attitude towards other dogs.  A Shiba that is extremely submissive may not have the problems that were brought up by my experience, but then again, I have never met a Shiba that didn’t think it owned the world.  If you want to introduce your dog to your friend’s dog, stop and think:

-am I prepared to cancel the physical meeting of the dogs if I think that they are not reacting to each other well at any point?  I ignored my inner warning voice because I wanted the dogs to get along.

-is my dog really good with other dogs?

-is my friend’s dog good with other dogs?

-is there any history that might indicate that the dogs may not get along or may start to grate on one another?

-are the dogs stressed at all?

-am I choosing a neutral venue that allows the dogs plenty of time to see and evaluate each other before physically meeting?

-if there is a fight, am I prepared to deal with it?  Can I break up a fight if it happens? (this is a big one for me; I learned that I need to know what to do if this (DOG FORBID) ever happens again, instead of standing around like a useless, screaming git.)

In the end, this was a relatively minor incident that ended as well as such incidents can.  I didn’t blame Buddy for being what he was.  I didn’t blame his owners; I was just as much at fault for not seeing the pawprints on the wall.  They didn’t blame me or Tierce.  While we were shaken up and frightened at what could have happened, what could have happened didn’t.  It was human error, not canine viciousness and I daresay that Buddy’s owners learned as much as I did about their dog’s abilities and limitations.

I just hope that this story will encourage people with dominant dogs to take things slowly when introducing their dogs to other dogs and keep their dogs away if there are any signs that things will not or are not going well.