Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Restrain Your Dog!

Gotta admit, this is me venting today.

Our neighborhood is a very dog-friendly neighborhood. We have a dog. A little maltese that weighs about 7 pounds. I would venture to bet money that if you surveyed our street, 95% of the houses would have at minimum one dog. Some have many more.

We recently got new neighbors. They are a family of three (I think). I talked to the little girl once when I was outside working in my flower garden with my dog appropriately tied to the tree in my front yard.

These neighbors also have dogs. Three to be exact. A little mixed breed something (the little girl called it a "Wal-Mart dog" because I guess they bought it at Wal-Mart somewhere where they still sell pets), a lab/something mix (a very small lab), and *duhn duhn duuuuuuuhn* a pit bull.

Disclaimer: I am not opposed to people owning pit bulls. That's your perogative. I know that owning a pit bull comes with many problems, including not being able to secure house insurance or having extremely high home owner's insurance premiums. Some places in TN are moving closer and closer to outlawing the breed. But, still, if you want to take on all the problems that come along with owning a pit bull, then by all means, have at it. JUST DON'T SUBJECT ME TO IT!

Here's my problem: since this family moved in, this dog is loose every morning and every afternoon. Not in their backyard, but in mine. It chases other dogs when my neighbors are trying to walk them. I don't know if it runs loose during the day because I'm not at home. Rick and I have talked at length about whether the family lets it run loose, or if it gets out. The fence in their backyard is a little over knee-high for me, and wooden. Nothing my little maltese couldn't jump over. A pit bull could easily clear it.

My dog is afraid of this dog. It is the only dog that mine has ever been afraid of. Yesterday morning, I'm outside with my dog in my yard letting my little guy run around and lose some of the energy he stores up. Next thing I know, the pit bull comes around the corner with the two smaller dogs in tow. What does my dog do? Attempts to play with the two smaller dogs, who are having fun with him. I'm trying to coerce my dog inside. I guess the pit bull gets jealous and starts growling at my little guy. I quickly scoop him up and toss him inside.

There are so many issues I have with this. I feel, first of all, that the owners are completly irresponsible for having the dog to begin with especially when they have a small child! Not only this, but there are a lot of small children in my neighborhood. If you aren't going to be responsible with your own child, there is no way these people are going to take responsiblity for someone else's children. Not to mention all of the other dogs in our neighborhood. Then, they don't even come close to properly restraining him. They are inside watching tv or doing whatever they do, and their dog is loose terrorizing our neighborhood. Give me a break! I'm a prisoner inside my own house. I can't go outside without being on the lookout for this dog. My poor dog won't even go outside if he sees the pit in our yard, which means that he is miserable because he can't go to the bathroom.

*sigh* I've given them several weeks to get moved in and fix their fence so their dogs wouldn't get out (if that is, in fact how they're getting out). I prefer to give people the benefit of the doubt. But, they have made no moves toward properly restraining this dog. This morning was the last straw. I called Animal Control. Fortunately, they also give people the benefit of the doubt. Their protocol is to send out a letter to the family first. Then, if nothing is done, they will take more extreme measures. I really hope the letter from animal control fixes the problem. I'll give them a couple of weeks and see what happens. I'm so torn! I hate to take a little girl's pet away, but what are my other options? I know the drill. If I talk to them, I'll get a "ooh, but she's so sweet! She'd never hurt a fly!" Yeah. That's exactly what this grandmother* said.

*Note: A quote in that article states that pit bulls are no more aggressive than other breeds of dog. That's not neccessarily true, especially if you don't do research on the breeders of your pit. Check out this article: The Pit Pendulum, especially the section titled, "The Problem with Pits."


At 2:59 PM, Blogger Tony Arnold said...

So much for writer's block. Nothing like a neighbor problem to cure that. I feel for you.

First, I am a dog lover who grew up with dogs being free, and currently live where my dog and my next door neighbor's dog are not restrained by fences. Now, growing up, there were no dog problems because everyone in the neighborhood took responsbility for their pet. They didn't own a problem pet. If they did they got rid of it or kept it restrained. Same for my current situation.

Bottom line: the dog owner is responsible and it is your property being trespassed. You have every right to politely tell them, "I love dogs, but your dog makes me uneasy. Please keep him restrained and in your yard. He has exhibited agressive behavior toward me and my dog."

If they give you the, "but he is so..." stuff, politely say, "That is not the issue. He is trespassing on my property often and for long durations, and I am uncomfortable with his presence. Please restrain him appropriately. I really want to handle this in a forthright, but considerate manner. Thanks so much."

At that point, if they are not good neighbors and don't solve the problem, proceed with Animal Control.

Keep in mind, free advice is worth every penny you spent on it.


At 6:26 AM, Blogger Jana said...

Go girl. I would have called Animal Control as soon as I saw a pit bull running around free anywhere in my neighborhood! Keep us posted...I wanna know how it all pans out.

At 7:08 AM, Blogger Andrea said...

Do you have leash laws in your area? Where we live, if any pet is running unrestrained he is subject to being picked up by Animal Control. And the owners are breaking the law.

There really is no way to handle it directly with the neighbors without causing some hard feelings. No matter how nice you are, they are going to feel you are being nit picky. Not that you are....far from it. Any dog running loose is a nuisance, but a pit bull is a danger. I think allowing Animal Control to handle the situation is the best option.

Bear in mind as I say that, my little Shih Tzu likes to chase anyone that comes down our street. All he wants to do is say, "Hello!" I must admit, when someone squeals in fear at my little guy running towards them, I have to laugh. He's a whole 7 pounds! Our Chihuahua mix is even smaller.

At 9:10 AM, Blogger Amanda said...

I'll be sure to let you all know what happens.

At 10:10 AM, Blogger Debi said...

I whole-heartedly agree with Tony's recommendation. I have a friend who has had the same problem with their next door neighbor's dog (although it wasn't a pit), and went the Animal Control route. It came to a point when animal control told the neighbor that they've picked up their dog so many times that if they received another call, they wouldn't return the dog to them.

Not sure if that's the right response, but at least it was working. My friend hasn't had any more problems in several years.

Good luck! (by the way, thanks for your post on my site).



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