When Dogs Bite

I have a small dog. He is a Jack Russell mix so needless to say he’s an adventurous proud little fella. I haven’t told him how small he is but I think he figured it out last weekend.

I was out walking with him in my neighborhood. He was on a leash or I was because he was definitely walking me. Usually I’m in charge but  I was pretty relaxed that night. He decided to go up the street a little further than we normally do. When we passed a house that has two aggressive German Shepherds fenced in the backyard they burst out of the gate and came right for us. It was very clear to me they were going for him and they wanted to bite him. Before I could snatch the little guy up both of these barking growling dogs had him pinned on his back on the pavement and I heard him yelp. For a split second I was imagining these two dogs having a tug-of-war with the little guy. So I did what I thought was the best thing and I stepped in. This is definitely not something I would recommend to anyone but when it’s your dog you do what you have to in the moment. I wish I could tell you how I got him away from them because I don’t know. My neighbor who was watching out her window said that I pushed my way in and knelt down over him so that I could pick him up. The dogs were circling me and snarling and snapping trying to get him.  My little one was in a panic and when I went to pick him up he slid backwards completely out of his harness and ran across the street to hide under a car. Friendly neighbors came out to help and I was yelling at the dogs because they were still trying to chase my injured dog. It was a tense few minutes as I distracted them and had to punch one of the dogs so that he my dog could run straight for the house. Thankfully the neighbors distracted the two dogs and they lost track of where he went.

Why am I telling you this story? The first point I want to make here is that regardless of what kind of attack it is they can happen in an instant. You don’t know until it’s happening what you’ll do. And I can tell myself now as I go for a walk with him again that I will carry something to fend off these dogs. My little guy ended up having to go to the emergency vet and had to be stitched. He’s seven days into recovering. But he’s not the only one who is injured. Although no one died here and I was not bitten I was traumatized to some degree by this incident. For a few days afterwards anytime I heard big dogs barking I immediately went back to that moment where they had him pinned and I couldn’t tell what they were doing to him.  I can tell you that in that moment my heart sank and I thought for certain my little guy wasn’t going to make it. I cried intermittently over the next three days. I had to take a day off the Monday after this happened because I was exhausted emotionally and had been up all night watching him and putting compresses on his injuries every few hours. Here’s the thing…I am no wimp. No one is immune from trauma.

For those of you concerned about making sure that there was justice for my little guy, no worries. Animal control is involved. I have to say, because I own my home, that it’s not an easy decision to make to charge this woman with fines for her dog biting my dog.  I have to think about the quality of my life in my home from now into the future depending on how she handles it. Will she want retribution? Will her adult son vandalize my home or cause me issues? There’s really no way to know until it happens. I have to weigh in my decision the knowledge I have that this is not the first time there dogs have gotten out and this is not the first time that the dogs have gone after another dog.

You can equate this situation to most any time that someone is a victim of a crime and they know or live near or work with the suspect. How will you handle it? In the heat of the moment people call 911. When the smoke settles and time passes, people are usually inclined to be forgiving. No one wants to turn someone else over to the “man”. Not only that but what’s going to happen to these dogs? I did my research and I know that they’ll probably get to keep the dogs but have to call them vicious dogs and take certain precautions to be allowed to keep them in the neighborhood.

I did not call 911.  It was my neighbor in this instance because calling 911 wasn’t my first thought. My first thought was how bad is my dog. The challenge here is what to do now and how to think ahead about my safety and the safety of my family in case there is any blowback. That’s when it becomes important to make sure that your home is secure and to evaluate cameras and lighting.

I did get a really good punch in on the one that bit him. I should say that I love dogs and I’m not afraid of dogs. I have handled a lot of them in my life of varying sizes. That was part of what gave me some confidence to try to fight them.  Another person who did not have the same background with dogs  might have been held hostage to stand and wait until they let him go. I reached in the middle of this dog pile and grabbed my buddy. That brings me to another point. One of the things that I teach in my classes that if you are going to fight someone who’s attacking you you best be prepared to get hurt. I knew full well when I reached in and tried to get my dog away from them I stood a very big chance of being bitten either accidentally or intentionally. And I decided I was going down fighting. I’m just grateful in the circumstance that the dogs are aggressive towards animals and not as aggressive towards people. This could have ended completely differently for me.

I think it’s important to remember, if you or someone you know is the victim of an attack,  to keep in mind it’s traumatic and you do need to give yourself time to recover. You should also consider holding the offender accountable but that is absolutely your choice and no one has a right to judge you no matter what direction you go. As a police officer who has investigated domestic violence and sexual assault that’s a difficult pill to swallow. I like arresting bad guys. Not gonna lie. But moving forward this will be a reminder for me to give space for my victims to make the best and safest decision for themselves. And carry a big stick and look for a great protective vest for Tai. I have included some links for dealing with aggressive dogs, and for a cool vest I am probably ordering.  Be safe, friends!   -cb





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