An Accident Waiting to Happen

An accident waiting to happen. That is what you think when you are called to a home where aggressive dogs are jumping at an ever-weakening fence. I have experienced this so many times in my career and remember wishing that at that moment the dogs would escape and attack me. You see, I am much better equipped at taking on a couple of aggressive dogs than any of the neighbors. But that never happens and I know that my words of warning will fall on deaf ears when discussing the issue with the owner. To put it bluntly, after a career of working with dog owners, the owners of dangerous dogs are pretty stupid when it comes to trying to get them to see their dogs as they really are. But I feel obligated to tell them anyway.

If you have worked in the animal control field, you have experienced this many times yourself. Since dog owners refuse to work in the present, I decided to change my tactics and work in the future. Each time I received a call like this, I treated it like a crime scene: getting witness statements, and photographing the dogs and the fence. Although I could not intervene at that moment, I could document the scene for a pending lawsuit. I wanted the documentation to highlight the negligence of the dog owner after receiving many warnings. As an animal control officer, I could do this.

Each additional complaint would reference the previous complaints. Each additional complaint would further illuminate the extreme negligence of the owner. The reports had to be well written because you are playing a part in making one of the neighbors very wealthy. And who knows, maybe sending the owner to jail. So, put a lot of emotion into it.

After each complaint, I would send the report to the owner along with copies to each of the current and past complainants. I also provided information as to how Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests were handled in the city/county. Keep in mind that I clearly document for the owner that this report is being shared with the neighbors. I also offer words of advice as to how neighbors should protect themselves from any harm that may (or is likely to) arise from the dogs escaping their enclosure.

When it dawns on the owner that I am assisting the neighbors in creating a healthy lawsuit. Many times, the dog owner begins to view his dogs with different eyes. Sometimes they even fix the problem. Time has taught me that scaring the dog owner works so much better than trying to talk some sense into them.