Talking Complete (Pit) Bull

, , , , , | Legal | September 30, 2018

(My dog is a pretty large rescue pit-bull who would never hurt a person, but we believe that he was an escapee from a dog-fighting ring. We found him lost and wandering, and the vet said his injuries were indicative of fighting. He is very aggressive toward any other animal he’s near. We counteract this by only ever letting him run in our fenced backyard, and keep him harnessed when we walk him. He’s only ever gotten loose once or twice, never with serious consequences. Other people in my neighborhood take no such precautions, usually letting their dogs run loose in their front yards, but generally their dogs will stay in the yards, and if I cross the street, I’m fine. However, one night, a loose dog runs up across the street to me.)

Me: “Hey, excuse me, hey! Please come get your dog!”

Neighbor: *sitting on her porch, not getting up* “Oh, it’s okay; he’s friendly!”

Me: *straining to keep my growling dog from jumping on the smaller one, trying to walk away* “Mine isn’t! My dog is very aggressive. Please come get your dog!”

Neighbor: “Oh, it’s fine; he’s very friendly!”

Me: “MINE ISN’T! COME GET YOUR DOG!”

Neighbor: “Gosh, all right.”

(She slowly stands up and starts making her way down the porch steps. At this point, my dog is barking like crazy, snapping, and generally doing everything he can to get at this other dog, who’s still coming towards him. I put myself in between them to keep them apart, and am yelling at my dog to stop. My dog is still trying to snap at the other dog, and the other dog is trying to get around me, nipping at my ankles as he does so, hurting me. The neighbor is standing in her yard, watching.)

Me: “HURRY UP AND GET YOUR F****** DOG!”

Neighbor: “They’re so close; I don’t want to get in the middle of it!”

Me: “GET YOUR DOG RIGHT NOW!”

(My dog lunges, and I use my shin to push the other dog out of his reach, figuring it’s better if he gets shoved a little than if he needs stitches later on.)

Neighbor: “Did you just kick my dog?!”

Me: “YOU NEED TO COME AND GET YOUR DOG, OR MINE IS GOING TO BITE HIM!”

(She finally walks across the street and grabs her dog’s collar. The dog is squirming away from her, still trying to get at my dog. I’m still trying to keep distance between the two, feeling pretty angry and upset at this point, when she drops this gem.)

Neighbor: “It’s just taking a minute, since I don’t have his leash.”

Me: “WELL, WHY IS YOUR DOG OUTSIDE WITHOUT HIS LEASH?!”

Neighbor: “He’s so well-behaved, he doesn’t need one!”

(The dogs are finally separated, so at this point, I turn to her and actually manage to speak rationally.)

Me: “Running up to strange dogs is not well-behaved. I’m not the only person in this neighborhood with an aggressive dog, and you’re going to get yours killed if you don’t keep him restrained. You need to keep him on a leash, and when you hear someone say, ‘My dog is aggressive; come get yours,’ you need to understand that it doesn’t matter how friendly yours is. You need to keep him under control.”

Neighbor: “Well, maybe you need to keep yours under better control!”

Me: “I did. I kept him on a leash and away from your yard when I saw your dog was loose. Your dog ran up to us, your dog attacked us, and your dog bit me.” *holds up my leg so that she can see the blood on my ankles from her dog’s bite* “I could call animal control and have them take him away right now, and you would be entirely at fault, but I’m not going to do that. What we’re going to do, is you’re going to put your dog inside, I’m going to take mine home, and then you’re going to give me a copy of your dog’s shot records so I know whether or not I need a rabies vaccine. And then you are never going to let your dog run loose in your front yard again, all right?”

Neighbor: “That’s not fair! My dog isn’t sick, and he would never bite you! I think your dog bit you; he’s so aggressive.”

Me: “Mine doesn’t bite humans. And he was in front of me the whole time. These bites are on the backs of my legs, and they came from your dog. So, if I do need a vaccine, you’re paying for it.”

Neighbor: “This isn’t my fault!”

Me: “YES, IT IS! You let your dog run wild, you didn’t come down to get him the second he left your yard — and by the way, him running off-leash in an open yard is illegal, too — and you are responsible for what he’s done!”

Neighbor: “Your dog was the one who started it, though! If he had just been friendlier–“

Me: “THAT DOESN’T MATTER! My dog is on a leash! The law says I did my part to properly restrain my dog, and you didn’t do yours! Now, go put your dog inside and get me a copy of those records! I’ll be back in ten minutes for them!”

(When I come back without my dog, the woman has locked herself in her house and won’t open the door for me. Ultimately, she calls the police on me for trespassing. Here’s how that conversation goes.)

Officer #1: “Ma’am, please step away from the door.”

Me: *doing as instructed* “Is everything all right, sir?”

Officer #1: “We’ve received a call that you’re trespassing and harassing the owner of this house.”

Me: “Sir, I’m not trying to harass her. Her dog bit me, and I’ve just been asking her if I can get a copy of the shots records so I know whether or not I need any treatment.”

Officer #1: “I don’t see a dog out here.”

Me: “It was about half an hour ago. I was walking my dog, and hers ran up and attacked us. The dogs weren’t injured, but her dog nipped at my ankle and broke skin.”

(I hold out my ankle again, but I cleaned and bandaged the bite, so it’s not readily visible. The officer’s partner goes up and asks the woman to step outside. She does and points at me.)

Neighbor: “That’s her! She’s been ringing my doorbell for hours!”

Officer #2: “Ma’am, she says that your dogs had an altercation?”

Neighbor: “Yes! Her dog got so aggressive, barking and snapping at mine! He’s dangerous.”

Me: “My dog was on a leash; hers was loose!”

Officer #1: “We’ll take your statements separately, all right?”

([Officer #1] takes me down to the curb, while [Officer #2] stays with her on her porch. As I’m giving my statement, the neighbors from across the street, the ones whose house I was in front of when the dog followed us up, come over.)

Neighbor #2: “Is this about what happened with the dogs earlier?”

Officer #1: “Did you see what happened?”

Neighbor #2: “Yes, and so did my husband. We were sitting in the front room, and we saw the whole thing.”

(She pointed to the house, gesturing to her big, bay windows that would have given her and her husband a perfect view. The officer asked me to stand aside while he took their statements, as well, which corroborated mine. Then he asked me to take off the bandage so that they could take a picture of the dog bite, and asked if I want to press charges. I told them that if the neighbor would just give me the shots records and promise to keep her dog restrained I wouldn’t. He relayed the message, and the neighbor still refused to hand over the records, so instead, the officers charged her, took the dog, and got a subpoena for the dog’s shots records, which were several months out of date. The dog was quarantined and ultimately found to not be rabid, and since I was up to date on my tetanus shot, I didn’t need further treatment, but the neighbor was charged with several misdemeanors and had to give the dog up. I felt bad about that; it wasn’t the dog’s fault its owner was an idiot, and I made sure to go to the hearing and testify that I didn’t think that the dog was actually dangerous. The court decided not to put it down, but instead to put it up for adoption. The whole time, the owner was yelling that this wasn’t her fault, so much so that she was removed from the hearing. The worst part is, when she was testifying as to what happened, she told the story exactly how it happened, and still didn’t seem to understand that it was her fault that her dog was running loose and unrestrained, and that keeping him on a leash was her responsibility.)

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