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Official Ranting Essay... Uncontrolled Dogs


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This is something I've been thinking about writing for a while - brought to critical importance by what I've experienced the last few weeks. Thoughts?

 

Your dog is friendly? Mine doesn't care.

 

Let me tell you about these last two weeks.

 

One Monday evening, I took my dog Buddy out for a walk around the neighborhood. He was on a leash and under my control. As I approached a particular house, I saw a pit bull mix sitting in the front yard, with no collar or leash. This dog - let's call him "Snuggles" - stood and started to approach us. No owner in sight.

 

Now, by all accounts, Snuggles is a knucklehead of a goofy and happy dog who barrels through the world clueless that anyone wouldn't want to be his friend.

 

But my Buddy's not a happy-go-lucky dog. I got him at age two from the shelter. He's fearful of a lot of things, and reacts to sudden approaches by strange dogs by trying to drive them off. I've worked hard for a long time to help my dog, and he's come a long way. But being charged by a loose dog while on leash is still a stressful situation for him.

 

So, Snuggles approached us rapidly. Being who he is, Buddy tensed and puts on his "keep away" body language - stiff walk, high and erect tail, raised head - but Snuggles didn't pay attention. So I started with my human commands: "No. Git. No." (Sometimes dogs will listen to a "no" command from a stranger. Not often, but sometimes.) The dog came closer and closer, and Buddy got tenser and tenser, and then Snuggles flung himself at us. Buddy wheeled around and spun out of his collar. There was a brief tussle of snarling and snapping.

 

At that point, Snuggles' owner stepped out from behind his fence, and in less than a second, had called his dog to him. Both dogs were quite content to end their short snarking session. I picked up Buddy's collar and slipped it over his head, preparing to continue my walk, and that's when I saw the blood pouring off my hand. My pinkie finger had a deep, two-inch gash running from the base just past the first joint.

 

I'm not sure what happened. The adrenaline of dealing with the approaching dog and the fight had obviously blocked the sensation of pain from my mind. I might have caught my hand on my dog's collar as he slipped out of it. I might have caught in on one of Buddy's teeth, or one of Snuggles'. I was honestly surprised to find myself injured.

 

At any rate, the cut was deep and bleeding copiously. Snuggles' owner brought me some gauze as well as his contact information. I walked home and had my neighbor drive me to the hospital. I spend three hours in the waiting room and ER. They gave me three novacaine injections in my finger - one of them excrutiatingly painful - plus three stitches, plus a tentanus shot. On my way out, they prescribed me the two non-penicillin antibiotics recommended for dog bites. One of them was clindamycin. Look up the side effects. They're not pretty. Suffice it to say, by the second day on the stuff I was suffering severe gastrointestinal symptoms. Had to take a day off of work to visit my own doctor and have him take me off the medicine.

 

The cut was deep and on a very flexible part of my hand. By the fourth day, two of the three stitches had popped out. It's been slow healing. It's now eleven days after the injury, and the wound is still not completely closed Meanwhile, the stomach symptoms caused by the clindamycin are still present and fading slowly.

 

Fortunately for Snuggles' owner, I'm pretty savvy about dog interactions, and recognize that Snuggles isn't "aggressive" or "dangerous" just because he and Buddy got into a fight. Fortunate, too, that I am covered by health insurance. I'd hate to see what the hospital charges for the twenty minutes the physician spent with me. Fortunate again that both dogs had current rabies vaccine certificates, so I didn't have to be painfully inocculated against that. Beyond fortunate that I didn't happen to be walking with a child, who could have been injured instead of me.

 

If I were less savvy? Or more greedy? Or less insured? I'd have called animal control and demanded that Snuggles be put down. I'd be suing Snuggles' owner for my medical costs and whatever else I could get.

 

So, what's the point of this fear-mongering? I'm here to instruct the owners of "friendly" dogs about the dangers of letting "friendly" dogs harass other dogs. When I'm walking in the park, and your dog runs ahead of you by 25 yards, and you call out, "He's friendly," that makes no difference to me or to my dog. At that point, your dog is out of control, and we are being forced into an interaction that we don't want to be part of an interaction that is not safe for me.

 

I went walking the other day, my hand still bandaged and my brain still a bit phobic in reaction to my recent experiences. A Doberman and a Weimeraner were running loose, far ahead of their owners. I called out to the owners, "Could you please grab your dogs? Mine isn't friendly!" I heard them grumble a bit in response to my words. Clearly, they felt that their dogs' right to run free superceded my petty fears. It doesn't.

 

Friendliness does not mean cluelessness or uncontrolled behavior, in either the human world or the canine one. If your dog weren't so "friendly," he'd be able to read my dog's body language and approach with respect and caution. If your dog weren't so "friendly," he would only approach people and dogs who want to be approached. If you dog weren't so "friendly," he'd listen to you when you try to call him back to you.

 

Since your "friendly" dog hasn't yet developed self-control, it's your job to control him. This means extensive training until you have full voice control of the dog, or it means keeping the dog on a leash in public. No excuses, no free passes because your dog is a "sweetheart." You wouldn't send a small child running to jump at an unknown dog. Don't send your faster, larger canine, either. If you don't care about my safety or the potential lawsuit you could face, care about the safety of your own dog.

 

Copyright 2009

MB Clark

thegroke@verizon.net

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As long as you have your dog under control - as in, leashed, I understand. If we ever do take Fergie off leash on a trail, as soon as we have any hint that there is anyone around, she's back leashed.

 

I get pissed with people who have their dogs in areas where their dogs must be leashed - state parks or Duke Forest - and the dogs are not. Mine is. And they yell that the dogs are friendly. Hey, Fergie is 13-1/2 and knows it. Some young pup comes up and wants to romp with her. She will first make nice. Then back off. Eventually, she will "correct" the stupid youngster. And, all the time, I'm trying to tell the idiot owner that Ferg is an old lady and concerned with her dignity. If we get tho the snap - which never ever involves contact - idiot owner gets all upset.

 

Fergie is really friendly. And she is willing to put up with young dogs. Last week-end, she spent 2 full days in a big fenced area with our daughter's 6-month-old "hound of some type" while we all cleaned and painted their "new" house - son-in-law is new superintendent of Eno River State park (NC). Ferg even let Rosie sort of climb up on her and snuggle.

 

What really frost me is people who take their dogs to festivals - or Crop Walk - then tell me, with or without my dog - that their dog doesn't like people or contact. Hey, so you brought it here because...?

 

BTW, I was at out local (Durham NC) farmers' market this morning. Everyone - so help me, everyone - was surprised and pleased that I asked if their dogs were friendly and comfortable with strangers before I greeted the dogs. Heck, my 7-year-old granddaughter knows to ask the same.

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Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be any shortage of rude, clueless owners out there. Scooter and I have been menaced too many times by dogs off leash, with their owners trailing behind, holding the leash in their hand!! :D I know I shouldn't, but whenever we go out for a walk now, I sort of hold my breath and search the horizon for any trouble that might be heading our way, hoping to avoid any unpleasant confrontations. Scooter is not dog aggressive, but will react when too much of his personal space is invaded--usually with a little yelp, then he lies down and tries to ignore the intruder. (Maybe I should try that!) :rolleyes: Sometimes it's hard to tell if a dog "just wants to be friendly" or if he means business when he comes charging out at you. I now carry a camera phone so I can at least get pictures of the offending dog and their people (and license plate numbers if necessary) and report them to Animal Control and/or the police.

 

Our neighborhood is full of dogs (probably at least one per household) so the chances of not meeting one on a leisurely walk are pretty slim. Lots of the ever popular Invisible Fences, but not always reliable.

 

It seems like many people are just dog collectors--"Look at me. I have 3 dogs". Of course, they don't have any interaction with them other than letting them out the back door in the morning and back in at night. The neighbor across the street is actually proud of his two Boxers that will chase down anything if they happen to get out, which they do often enough to make me nervous.

 

I don't know what the answer is, but it is disturbing and stressful, both for me and my dog.

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This is a huge hot button topic for me. I don't walk my dogs in my town anymore because I have bad experience after bad experience with off-leash dogs. Small ones, big ones, friendly ones, unfriendly ones. The cops are responsive in that they will go talk to owners, but it doesn't seem to make much difference with most of them. I have a garden variety dog-aggressive pit bull, a leash-aggressive due to repeated bad experiences pit bull, and a very soft Border Collie who looooves other dogs but who would be traumatized by a bad experience right now. The last thing I want is for my dogs to get hurt, or to hurt somebody else's dog, especially since I am doing my part by keeping my dogs onleash and under control.

 

It makes me crazy. Absolutely crazy. I have put so much time and work into Mushroom with his fear aggression only to have it undone over and over again. I've given up and just use a Gentle Leader and manage it as best I can if I can't avoid a bad situation. We don't walk hardly at all- I rely on backyard running, flirtpole, ball, training, and playdates to exercise them. And I know that I am a tremendously dog-reactive owner at this point, and that it doesn't help matters at all, but again- bad experience after bad experience leads to me scanning, hitching at the leash, holding my breath- all those things that make it worse.

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I agree with what is said here.

 

Here's another reason why if you want to take your dog off leash, take him to a place where that's allowed and expected. Such as a dog park :rolleyes::D :D And yes, I can call off my dog if he's off leash and another dog comes along. He is friendly, but would not go out of his way to check out another dog - it's always the other way around.

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Good essay, Mary.

 

What really frost me is people who take their dogs to festivals - or Crop Walk - then tell me, with or without my dog - that their dog doesn't like people or contact. Hey, so you brought it here because...?

 

 

Guilty, sorta. I would take Missy out and about alot so she would learn that doing such things would be fun. But she really didn't like attention from other people for a long time. The general population tend to suck when it comes to doggy language and she was uncomfortable with people who who didn't "speak dog". She was just fine being out and about as long as folks left her alone. I'd usually play the abuse card so people wouldn't push her.

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Amen, Mary.

 

DH and I had the guys out, walking in our urban neighborhood Tues eve. Changed direction/turned back 4 times and never got more than a block from home: loose chocolate Lab, loose pit mix, loose little terrier guy and loose average Shepherd/Something mix. All loose. Not invisible fenced. Sol's okay, but Kip---not so much.

 

My other complaint: The Flexi leash crowd at the park. We (without the dogs, usually, because the trails are multi-use with lots of runners and bikers) walk at a county park 5-6 days a week. The trails are either gravel or paved, but not wide (you can't walk two abreast and have anyone pass clearly coming opposite without stepping aside). The number of folks with their dogs on Flexis who let them charge up, put their feet up, etc. as I walk, with a "He's friendly!" as if that makes it okay, is mind numbing. Last weekend, we were walking on a narrow wooden bridge that passes high over a creek/gorge and a woman with little Boston terrier on a Flexi approached. We have (finally) gotten our dog-loving 6 yr old DD to stop trying/asking to stop and pet every dog we pass; now she just calls out, "I like your dog!". Good enough. She was way ahead with DH, called out her greeting to the lady and went on. When lady and Boston terrier got to me, she let him all the way out on the Flexi, he tried to put his feet up as he passed and scraped by my hand with a tooth (he had sort of a bad underbite). The lady saw me pull my hand back and examine it and said (from the end of the extended Flexi), "He doesn't bite!" :rolleyes:

 

Lady, if he has teeth, he bites at least every time he eats his dinner.

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If I go anywhere with my dogs, I take my training crook. I have had dogs run up to mine and I yell at their owner to contain their dogs. If not, I flash/whip the crook in front of the runaway dogs and the crook stops them. I also yell at the dogs to "stop it" and they usually slide to a stop as I am going/lean into them. It makes good whipping sound if you do it right and the noise alos stops the dog.

 

Only one owner complained at a dog park and I told him if he got in my face, I would be using it as self protection. And I would press charges and turn his dog in for attacking me. His dog tried to jump on my two dogs and meant to attack them....he thought it was funny. He didn't think it was funny when my crook met his his dog's ass!! His dog apparently jumped/attacked other dogs. I would see him at the dog park and he would avoid me after that. It's been a few years since I went to the dog park as I have 10 acres for my dogs to romp about.

 

Regardless, if I do go walking, I take my white crook (training wand) as it make a nice tool to stop a charging dog. Shiro was attacked once by a so called friendly dog.

 

My dogs....my job is to protect them against idiots.

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I came on here just now all ready to post my own rant about dog owners allowing their dogs to wander, but you beat me to it. I've just gotten home from a walk with Bonnie where three dogs (two border collies and a pointer-type dog) all came out of one yard and crossed the road to meet us. They seemed happy enough, and wandered along behind getting closer and closer to us. At one point one of the border collies was right on Bonnie's tail and she was getting anxious so I yelled at them, which did nothing more than slow them down a bit. They followed us for about 10 minutes until they got bored and went home. Two of the dogs I saw very far from home yesterday getting into a park rubbish bin, they're always out. They may have been friendly enough dogs but if Bonnie was to snap at one (which she could because she was getting anxious) then it would be me and Bon against three dogs - not a situation I'd like to be in. I've decided to write these people (the owners of the dogs) a letter and see how that goes...

 

I too have been on Clindamycin (for a cat bite to my thumb) so I know those side effects well and never want to have to go on that drug again.

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See I'm telling you--manatory classes.. Just kidding. :rolleyes:

 

What I hate is when you are at the vets office and everybody lets theirs dogs "visit" and roam around in the waiting room. First off maybe some dogs are there because their sick..why would you want your dogs face in a sick dogs face? Then most dogs get a little stressed anyway in the waiting room.

 

Once when it was really bad I stated to please keep your dogs away from mine..at which point someone said Oh is your dog mean.

 

At which point I stood up..yes stood up and gave a lecture on dog behavior and responsible ownership and how the lack of which is the cause of dogs not being welcomed in alot of places.

 

When I turned around there was my vet standing there! He motioned to me to come in the back..I thought I was in TROUBLE..when I got there all 3 vets were laughing their heads off..they said they were going to hire me to sit in the waiting room all day and educate their clients..

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Hot subject for me as well especially since Jin and Abby are well trained and non-aggressive. However incidences with uncontrolled dogs seems to be on the rise with the most recent happening Fri night downtown with this AH and his huskies. His attitude was they are under control as he's dragged down the street by 130+ lbs of dogs wearing heavy link chains. Not even real leads but the kind of link chain you buy at a hardware store. He just let his dogs get as close to mine as he could and let them start snarking. He thought it was funny. Then yesterday there was a yappy dog running loose at the park that lunged at Abby. Even off lead Abby, who is totally non-aggressive, doesn't charge or bolt other dogs, ever. When she's threatened she comes to me and sits between my legs. This yappy laprats owner thought it was cute to see her Yorkie trying to latch onto Abby's rough. When I told the owner to get her dog away or I would do something she just laughed and said "They're just playing." No they aren't Stupid Bi---h. (sorry I got pissed off) You're dog is trying to hurt Abby. So I grabbed the Yorkie by the scruff of the neck and tossed it away. The lady went ballistic and her dog came right back at Abby. I grabbed the dog off again by the scruff of the neck and held it while it squealed and told the lady if she didn't remove her dog from the park right now and it attacked Abby again I was going to kill it. At that point I left but found out from a friend later in the day she had returned with the cops looking for me.

 

So OK here's the new promise. If your dogs is not friendly and makes an aggressive move toward my dogs there's going to be some serious dog butt kicking time after which I'm going to kick yours. There are too may morons who think their dogs are under control just because they are on a lead. To those owners I say you are not in control and it's going to cost you legally and financially you if your dogs do any damage. If your dogs attack mine you can also expect some expensive vet bills When you take your dog in.

 

I have had it with aggressive dogs. I'm trying to train a service dog and I don't need that kind of hell.

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I have new neighbors that moved in next door to me this spring. Their house is 300 yards or so away from mine. They brought 4 dogs with them. They had moved from the city to the country for exactly the reason that I am reading here. They wanted their dogs to run loose. Every time I would come home from work their dogs would be sitting on my front porch awaiting a chance to chase my cats and growl and bark at me when I got out of the car. It wasn't long when all 3 of my cats we killed by their dogs. I went over and talked to the new neighbors and asked them if they would keep their dogs in their yard under control. They told me their dogs were friendly and I had no reason for concern. I said they had killed all 3 of my cats and the neighbors apologize and asked if there was anything they could do. I said yes keep your dogs under control. The next day seeing there were no cats to chase they started on my horses. After a $300.00 Vet bill I called animal control and they gave them a $35.00 ticket. The next day I was out repairing the fence that my horses busted down trying to get away from the dogs and here they come again growling and barking at me and Hershey on my own property. I called Hershey and went directly over to the neighbor’s house and complained about their dogs again. The short answer they gave me was get over it this is why we move to the country so we can let our dogs have some freedom. Of course the deer, turkeys and other game seem to not frequent my place much anymore. The last time the dogs came after me I called animal control again and they issue my new neighbors a $500.00 viscous dog ticket and told them if they get any more complaints the dogs would be put down. Needless to say they bought a dog kennel and keep them in it now. The point here is a little training and supervision would go a long way in helping their dogs understand were and what they could do. I let my BC's run freely on my property but only when I am with them. None of them have a desire to get out of my site and mind me when I call. It’s called training. Some people seem to think this is not a necessary part of dog ownership. all in all my neighbors actions has cost me much more then the little fines they got and they still don't under stand and think I am a bad neighbor and will not talk with me now.

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Wow, one would think if you move to Montana, you'd be able to enjoy your peace and quiet. Those dogs wouldn't have lasted past the cat killing episode had it been me. Chasing horses? Definitely enough cause for shoot, shovel, and shut up. The thing that irks me most about people who move to the country to let their dogs run free is that they have no idea (or maybe don't care) if their dogs harass the neighbors' livestock. I remember a report on the news about six months ago of a dog that was shot for chasing livestock and the owners who maintained it was a nice dog, blah, blah, blah. Maybe if more folks realized that it's perfectly legal (at least in some states) to shoot dogs that are harassing livestock, they'd be more diligent about keeping their dogs at home.

 

In another incident, a dog and her two nearly grown pups were trying to get through my fence to my sheep (before I had a LGD). Animal control said they couldn't do anything if they were on the highway right of way instead of all the way on my property (they were rushing the fence from the field across the road), but that I could shoot them if they were after my livestock. Interesting that animal control considered shooting a more acceptable option than just coming out to get the dogs since they weren't actually on the property (although property taxes are paid for land all the way out to the middle of the road, so technically they were on property on which taxes are being paid...).

 

Anyway, you were way more tolerant of your neighbors' dogs than I would have been, and now you probably have to worry about them doing something nasty to your animals in retribution.

 

J.

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And then there are uncontrolled kids - or maybe that's just badly trained kids.

 

Outside the dog park at Masterson Station Park (during the Bluegrass), a handler came across an SUV with a dog crated inside and windows and doors open for ventilation as the owner was watching the competition for a few minutes. A youngster was lunging from out of sight and into the dog's view with growls and yells. The dog, of course, was becoming hysterical and barking and lunging in return. The youngster's father was standing right there.

 

The handler kindly came up and told the boy to stop harassing the dog and the father (supposedly a responsible adult) said, "Why? He's not doing any harm." The handler proceeded to point out that the dog was getting hysterical and it was due to the boy's harassment. She then pointed out that, should the dog's lunging result in the crate door popping open, the boy could be bitten and who would be responsible for that.

 

At which point the father said, "We'd work that out in court." The world is full of irresponsible people and, sadly enough, training up another generation to be even less responsible.

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Oh is your dog mean.

 

My responce to that question from a random person is "No, I am." I try and keep my frustration focused on the person instead of the dog, because I do have a reactive dog and if I show that I am irritated at the dog she gets concerned that maybe that dog is something to worry about.

 

I imagine that it is hard for the every day dog owner who has never owned or had a reactive dog to see why those of us who have had, have or know a reactive dog are so concerned with their "friendly," dog. They see nothing wrong with their dog's behavior because they have never endured negative consequences from it. Most people are unaware of what to look for or even how to translate a dog's behavior and stance. Many people still believe that a wagging tail is always happy. People think I am crazy when I correct my dogs before they do anything. ("Don't even think about it, Poke!") Beacuse of Ceana's reactivity, I have learned to look for these things, and have read up on those that I couldn't figure out myself.

 

It takes an immense amount of energy, time, and patience to get some of these dogs to be confident and able to have normal social interactions with other dogs. When it goes wrong and you have a set back, it feels like the world has been knocked right back out from under your feet. While you are left on your back with the world spinning, that person with the poor mannered "friendly," dog walks by and often judges you because your dog lunged, or barked, or tried to flee from their dog. -sigh- It is so hard to not feel anger in that moment. Especially when that person who doesn't know enough to teach their dog not to just run up and leap on a strange dog (or someone who doesn't even have a dog!!!) then tells you how to correct YOUR problem because they have seen it on TV a thousand times and so & so does this or that. The rudeness of their unsolicited and often unexperienced advice mirrors their dog's crass behavior and all you can do is bite your tongue, or not, and try and re-group your dog and hope all of your hard work has built up enough confidence and good experiences not to knock you back to square one.

 

I don't like just pointing out a problem without giving some sort of solution, but a solution in this case is hard to pinpoint because we would have no control over its execution. You could put out some sort of PSA, or have a show where everything isn't solved in 30 minutes by the visit from a guru, or even a show that shows a case that is caused by the breeding of poor temperment or a physical cause like low thyroid. Ideally, it would be nice to have a clinic for people that talked about dog behavior and brought up such problems. Even if you were to have a room full of owners and have a simple show of hands of those with reactive dogs or who have had a bad experience, maybe some people would see things from a different point of view. Obviously it wouldn't reach or change everyone, but if the above type of behavior became the exception more than the rule I believe it would be an improvement.

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Sad to say, I was once one of those clueless owners. I learned, though. And I've got my own clueless story to tell.

 

I took Shoshone to Petsmart to get a hair cut, and we were in the tiny, tiny waiting area when an older lady with a little fuzzy, yappy dog walked in, looked like it was a puppy, but it's hard for me to tell with those breeds.

 

Of course, the puppy wanted to jump all over Shonie. And of course, my quirky girl is already pretty tightly wound, so I stood between the 2 dogs, and explained to the lady that Shonie is an older dog, and a bit cranky from arthritis. I didn't go into the quirks or the stress Shonie was feeling.

 

The lady stared at me, didn't do anything about her dog, who was still bouncing and yapping, and said, "But Becky only wants to say hi!" I repeated my reasoning, Becky kept bouncing, and finally, I scooped Shonie up and deposited her on a chair, told her stay, then turned around and said, "My dog doesn't like other dogs. Please use your leash." The lady just stared at me, as if I'd threatened her.

 

The grooming staff made a beeline for me and Shonie at that point, and we got into the actual grooming area, away from bouncing Becky and her owner without a brain.

 

What does it take?

 

Ruth

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See I'm telling you--manatory classes.. Just kidding. :rolleyes:

 

What I hate is when you are at the vets office and everybody lets theirs dogs "visit" and roam around in the waiting room. First off maybe some dogs are there because their sick..why would you want your dogs face in a sick dogs face? Then most dogs get a little stressed anyway in the waiting room.

 

I will not wait in a 'waiting room' at the vet's. I try to get the first appt of the day. If I have to wait outside with my dog until an exam room is open, that is what I do.

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Anyway, you were way more tolerant of your neighbors' dogs than I would have been, and now you probably have to worry about them doing something nasty to your animals in retribution.

 

J.

 

Here in Montana I have the right to shoot a dog for chasing horses or cattle as far as the Live Stock Commission goes but the sheriff's department has a different view on this issue and seems to think it is cruelty to animals. The brand inspector from the Live Stock Commission are able to do this but me as a citizen could get throw in jail for it. There again I don't want any trouble with my neighbors for fear of what retribution may come from it. I felt the best way to handle it was through the law or animal control but your neighbors still think you’re and a$$ hole for turning them in and seem to want to get even. As if 3 dead cats and a lame horse, and the fear of their dogs biting me is not enough.

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If you're worried about getting in trouble for shooting the dogs, your next best choice would be hot wire and/or barbed wire on the outside of your pastures (at a level that wouldn't enable to horses to get into it) at dog height. I know it's a lot of effort, but surely if the dogs got nailed a few times by an electric fence, they'd think twice about coming over. I'd be willing to bet they "get out" of their runs at some time in the future.

 

J.

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Since a city has grown up around us we can no longer shoot problem dogs and other critters. I got into trouble when the city-zens who bought the house next door called the police because I was killing pigeons with a repeating gas rifle. At the time the (new) police dept tried to cite me for hunting without a license and out of season. I have a license and there is no season limit on pigeons. So they confiscated my rifle. Took a year to get it back.

 

I digress,

 

I certainly don't need clueless owners and their dogs making my life and Jin's more difficult when were out in public which is everyday. Each one of these incidents makes life a lot harder for my puppy and a lot more difficult and frustrating for me to teach him to overcome it.

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