Thursday, February 7, 2008
San Francisco, CA - For the second time in two days, a "pit bull terrorizing a pregnant woman" has occurred. On Monday, a 50-pound male pit bull terrier was shot by an off-duty San Francisco police officer as it terrorized a pregnant San Joaquin Place resident.
Emma Mesenburg, who is six months pregnant, was raking leaves in her back yard with her two young daughters in tow when a neighbor’s pit bull escaped from behind a fence and entered her yard. After being cornered by the barking pit bull for 10-15 seconds, she called on one of her neighbors, an off-duty SFPD officer, for help.
The officer assisted Mesenburg and called 9-1-1 to got help from Novato police. The officer also distracted the dog, allowing Mesenburg to escape into her home. The pit bull, identified as Hyphe, lunged at the officer as he was attempting to retreat. The officer fired his weapon once, grazing Hyphe in the face.
Prior this incident there had been complaints about the dog and another pit bull living at the same residence. The complaint made it all the way to Marin County Superior Court. Yet the complaining party did not show up. DogsBite.org speculates this is because pit bull owners often harass and intimidate victims.
Officer Machado, who helped Mesenburg in this instance, drives home a very important point:
Anyone who feels that there is a potentially dangerous animal in their neighborhood should call the humane society and file an official complaint. In order for an animal to be considered “potentially dangerous,” two encounters must have occurred within a 36-month period."
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| 2/07/2008 3:58 AM |
At least they act to protect! They know the threat.
Whereas many Animal Control officers chalk it up to bad ownership and sidestep the degree of danger these dogs pose...to pregnant women, to children, to seniors, to anyone who dare walk down a sidewalk near a leashed pit bull.
Yes, even leashed pit bulls attack human beings and dogs.
| 2/07/2008 10:34 AM |
Here is a 2000 Boston Globe article that explains that community members should take aggressive behavior seriously. I am cutting and pasting some advice on steps you can atke if you feel threatened by a neighbor's dog...
"We consulted Carter Luke of the Massachusetts Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and two of the best known dog training experts in the country - Brian Kilcommons, coauthor of "Childproofing Your Dog," and Matthew Margolis, coauthor of "Grrr! The Complete Guide to Understanding and Preventing Aggressive Behavior in Dogs" and host of PBS's dog behavior series, "Woof!"
They all agree. Current laws in most cities and towns are inadequate in dealing with these issues because they address the situation only after an attack occurs. Still, there are steps you can take to stay safe.
If a menacing dog lives on your street, take action. "If an adult ran behind a fence chasing and threatening your children as they walked by, you'd call the cops," Kilcommons says. You should take a dog behaving that way just as seriously. The first step - if you feel comfortable doing it - is to speak to the owners of the dog. It's hard to imagine they would be unaware of the dog's behavior, but you can point it out. They should get training for the dog, socialize it, and neuter it (nearly 100 percent of serious maulings in this country are committed by unfixed dogs, usually male).
Further, Kilcommons has a novel idea. Owners of menacing dogs can use invisible fencing inside standard fencing. It provides more than double security. It actually reduces the level of aggression if the dog can't get right up to pedestrians.
If that doesn't work, put these people on notice. "Owners are in denial about aggression in their dogs," Margolis says. "People can take you insulting them easier than they can deal with you talking about their dog. They make excuses: `He only growls at strangers.' Great. There are only about 250 million strangers in this country."
Even if an owner won't take this behavior seriously, you should. All the experts agree: Send a certified letter to the owners stating that their dog is exhibiting aggressive behavior that you believe is dangerous. The letter is to give fair warning that should something happen, they are fully responsible. Send letters outlining the situation to your town's animal control officer, the police, and even the district attorney and ask them to investigate."
| 2/07/2008 2:02 PM |
It is critical to begin a paper trail if you are dealing with a neighbors aggressive dog. My advice would be as follows:
1. Try to get as many neighbors as you can to stand together and file complaints. It's harder for city officials to ignore you or claim you have a personal beef with the dog owner if more than one neighbor comes forward.
2. Begin a paper trail. As the above piece states, send certified letters to the owners, the animal control department, the police, and even the district attorney's office. You would not let your neighbor threaten your family with a gun, so why let your neighbor put your family in danger by not controlling an aggressive dog?
3.Keep meticulous records. Keep a folder and make copies of everything you send to the authorities; letters, e-mails, etc. Keep a record of the time and date of any calls to AC or the police, and document the details of your complaint and what the response was.
4. If the dog owner is a renter, contact the landlord. Send copies of your complaint to the landlord, and let him know, in no uncertain terms, that you will hold him liable if the dog injures a member of your family. Now, legally, the landlord cannot claim he had no knowledge of the dog, and will be compelled to act.
5. Collect picture or video evidence that supports your claim. If the dog is loose in the neighborhood, and you know AC may not arrive in time to cite the owner, take pictures of the dog, or video tape it. If the dog is behaving in a menacing manner behind fencing that may not contain it (growling, barking wildly, slamming it's body against the fence in an attempt to climb over it) try to film the behavior from a safe distance, with a zoom lens.
Perhaps the above information could find it's way to a permanent place on this website; this, along with the links to successful BSL, could begin to provide a road map for dealing with dangerous dogs in our communities.