Bad Fences Make for Bad Neighbors

One of the most frustrating thing that we face in our profession is determining the risk of a failing fence.  I have had countless conversations with owners of perceived aggressive dogs as to the state of their fence line.  We are not in the insurance business, but we know a accident waiting to happen.  The problem we face is that the owners of aggressive dogs are not the brightest tool in the box and as Animal Control Officers, we cannot take action until the dog actually escapes the yard.

The other day, 9-year-old Emma Hermandez was killed by three pit bull type dogs in Detroit after Emma’s father spoke to the dog’s owners about  the sad state that his fence was in.   The owner was arrested, but the article stated that the “prosecutors are determining what charges, if any, their owner may face.”  The problem with prosecutors is that they rarely deal with fatal dog cases and can’t think objectively.  Every dog has the potential to bite, but few have the ability to kill.  Dogs are like a loaded weapon, some are like BB guns and other are more like a 45 caliber.  Having been warned about the neighbor’s concern and failing to take action, the owner should be charged with reckless endangerment.  If the Animal Control had received and acted on previous complaints, the owner should be charged with murder.

As with guns, there are no laws that keep dogs out of the hands of idiots.  You can usually tell when a neighborhood has one of these dog owners, the rest of the neighborhood knows that a gun will trump a dog anytime.

I have advised neighbors to know the response time of their police and go on record filing a complaint with both the police and animal control.  A person needs to build a case for themselves as to the necessity of the actions that they have taken to protect themselves.  You may one day be in court trying to convince a judge that your actions were necessary.  A person needs to keep their wits about them, even an experienced police officer can fail to hit a vital organ.  My shelter dealt with a pit bull dog that had been shot by the local police officers 19 times and lived through the experience.  The best shot comes when the dog is running directly at you, presenting that large forehead.  If you miss, offer up your forearm and you are in perfect position to line up for a perfect shot.  If you work for the police department, volunteer to catch your canine dog on a wrap.  Plenty of “wrap time” can get you to see for yourself the opportunity that is made available to you.  If you find it necessary to shoot the dog, remember that in all of the excitement, you must always insure that you have a safe background behind the dog.

Why would you consider shooting a dog?

  1. You do not carry the necessary equipment to capture the dog alive without risk to yourself.
  2. It is a quick solution to a problem that demands an immediate response.  Let’s face it, the longer that a dog is allowed to chew on a child, the less likely the child will survive.
  3. It is a permanent solution to a problem that you cannot trust the dog’s owner to fix.

In the case with Emma, a neighbor shot one dog and the others were later captured by animal control; but, it was all too late for her.   As with any of these fatal incidents, there will be someone wanting to save the dogs.  They might even hire a “dog expert” to justify the dog’s actions, these guys are paid well to spin a yarn, they’ll even make the case that it was the victim’s fault.