Sunday, November 04, 2007

When dogs attack .. or no good deed goes unpunished

Ugh, what an awful morning I had today. I was driving to the grocery store when I saw a big brown dog running full-speed across an intersection ahead of me with no owner in sight. My instinct was to go after him and see if I could catch up to him and look for tags. I turned onto the street he was on, and immediately saw why the dog had been going so fast--it was on the attack. A woman was screaming "Get off my dog! Get off my dog!" while the brown dog attempted to maul her akita. I pulled over and jumped out of my car as a guy with a wide-eyed confused look on his face came out of the closest house.

All I knew to do was to avoid putting my hands anywhere near the dogs' mouths. Even a dog that's not human-aggressive is likely to bite--hard--at whatever is close during a fight. The only thing I could think of is something Val Olszyk once mentioned about breaking up dogfights: If there's a tail, use it. So I grabbed the attacking dog's tail, and pulled. The neighbor guy saw what I was up to and also grabbed the tail, so I told him to hold it while I grabbed the dog's rear haunches and pulled. We managed to pull him off the other dog, and I told the guy to keep hold of the tail while I reached into my car and got a slip lead (handy things, slip-leads). Unfortunately, the dog turned and snapped at him so he dropped the tail and it launched another attack on the akita.

At this point the woman started screaming, in a really nasty tone, at us "Get this dog off my dog NOW! It's going to kill him! Get him off!" I wanted to yell back "What the *%&@ do you think I'm doing here, lady?" I mean, why be bitchy to people who are trying to help you? We were putting ourselves at personal risk to help this woman, and she was being really nasty. Seriously, if I hadn't been thinking of her poor dog, I would have saved myself a lot of risk (and, as it turned out, about an hour of my time) by getting back in my car and driving off. OK, I know I couldn't have actually done that, but she really pissed me off.

At any rate, we successfully separated the dogs and I got a slip-lead around the brown dog's neck. I told the neighbor guy to hold it tight while I got my cell phone and called 911 for animal control. While I was calling, the woman with the dog left, staring over her shoulder at us--actually it looked more like glaring than staring--but saying nothing. I wanted to say "Oh, and you're welcome, by the way ... saving your dog's life was nothing, really!" but I was busy talking to the dispatcher.

So the dispatcher said they'd send animal control right out. Ha, I thought, Durham Animal Control never gets "right out" anywhere. I figured I'd be lucky if they showed up at all. After I got off the phone a guy pulls up in his car and said "So what just happened here?"

"This dog just attacked some lady's dog," I said. "She left. I've called 911 and they're sending Animal Control--the dog's got no collar or tags."

"Oh, it's not your dog?" he said.

"No, I just stopped to help," I said.

"Oh--that was my girlfriend whose dog was attacked," he said, and it dawned on me that she must have thought it was my dog, which might explain why she was such a bitch to me. She never bothered to ask, though, did she?

Anyway, boyfriend dude left (probably the prospect of waiting and waiting for Durham Animal Control didn't appeal to him, either). After a half-hour, during which the nice and helpful neighbor guy waited with me even though he was late to meet a friend), I called 911 again. They said an officer was on his way. I didn't really believe them, but I told the neighbor guy that he should go meet his friend and I'd just hang out in his yard.

At this point, the dog was nice and calm, and behaving like a real sweetheart. It was obvious he was someone's pet because he looked well-taken care of (except that he was obviously overfed, but I rarely see a pet dog that isn't.) I tried to guess his mix--he looked part bull mastiff, but they aren't actually all that common so it must have been something else. His head was shaped like a Rottweiler's, but he had the coloring of a fawn boxer. A boxweiler, maybe? He seemed happy to be hanging out with us there, and I started to feel bad that he was going to be crammed in the animal control truck (if they ever showed up, that is). But he was so dog-aggressive he definitely had to be taken off the street and I certainly wasn't bringing him home with me. I wondered if his people even realized their dog had escaped.

So roughly an hour after the whole thing started, the animal control guy showed up, put the dog in his truck. I went on to the store, etcetera, and when I got home there was an e-mail to the neighborhood list from someone whose neighbors were missing a dog fitting the description of the I apprehended. I wrote back and told them what happened and that animal control has the dog.

For more info on ways to break up a dogfight that might be better than the ones I used, see this web page. (You have to scroll down about 5 screens past ads for the guys DVDs. I don't know if I agree with any of the guy's other dog-training advice because I haven't read it, but his fight-breaking advice looks like it would work).

Oh, and I'm going to make sure I always have a slip-lead in my car. Although I hope I don't run into to many more dogfights.


ellipsisknits said...

I bet she did think you were the owner. Putting myself in that situation, I'd probably be pretty freaked out, and wouldn't expect a stranger to intervene.

You're braver than I getting in the middle of a nasty situation like that. Lots of respect and kudos heading your way.

I hope the brown dog's owners at least react maturely, even if they aren't happy about it.

And that you get some nice karma coming up for putting up with all this.

mamacita chilena said...

dogs on the attack are so scary. that is brave of you to throw yourself in the mix. I'm sure the woman thought it was yours, she probably didn't mean to be nasty.

or maybe I'm just naive and want to believe the best of people. maybe she is just a bitch, who knows!

Lisa B. said...

Yeah, I should give the woman the benefit of the doubt. Dogfights are awful, especially when your dog is the victim.

Still, I went through a lot of risk and hassle (and as it turns out, time) to help her, she could at least have said something to me--anything-- maybe even asked if it was my dog. She just walked away glaring at me.

Sarah said...

It's true that people aren't always at their best in the middle of a crisis. What seems really rude to me is the behavior after the crisis is over. The boyfriend finds out what a huge favor you did his girlfriend, and instead of waiting with you, or even apologizing, he just drives away. You were there for long enough that the girlfriend could have come back and apologized too -- she obviously sent him to talk to you about letting "your" dog attack hers.