Worst Dog Attack Story I’ve Heard in a Long Time

I love hiking. I love my dog. But as a dog owner of a tiny terrier, I’ve given up hiking with him because of a growing problem with irresponsible dog owners allowing their dogs to run free.

Before you think I’m just being a fusspot about this, I’ll tell you that I know big, strong dog-less men who have given up certain hiking and biking trails because they’ve been jumped by unattended dogs. Nothing spoils a beautiful afternoon faster than a hundred-pound canine leaping at you from out of nowhere.

And it’s not like I’m a nervous Nellie in the woods. Heck, I grew up playing serious hide-and-seek, where stepping on skunk cabbage could give away your position and sometimes the best place to conceal yourself included sharing space other critters. I know enough to make a lot of noise when I come upon a skunk at night, because they don’t like to be startled. I’ve sprinted away from a rattlesnake I didn’t mean to disturb, had a delirious woodchuck with a brain parasite try to bite my feet, and even caught a red hawk lying in wait for my little pooch to wander by. When coyotes set up a den in the neighborhood several years ago, I learned to track them when I walked the dog because I know that when you see one coyote, you have to assume there’s a second, since they hunt in pairs. Then a family of foxes developed a taste for cats, and our neighborhood kitties started disappearing. The concern was that little dogs were next on the menu, so I had to be vigilant. Recently, there’s been a small bear wandering around, in addition to the wolverine-like fisher cats that can be found in the deep woods. As a nature lover, I know that safety on a hike is always my responsibility. I never step onto a trailhead without reminding myself that I must be prepared at all times to react to whatever danger pops up.

But for me and many other dog owners, it’s the loose, roaming “nice” dogs that pose the greatest threat to our pets and ourselves. This is a case in point. About a month ago, in a popular hiking area where I used to go, a woman’s 35-pound “goldendoodle” dog was attacked by one of two pit bulls off-leash. In the process of trying to rescue her dog, she was bitten on her hand and arm.

And the owners? Well, they had reassured the woman that their pit bulls were friendly just moments before one of the canines sunk his teeth in the “goldendoodle’s” hind quarters.

So, by now you’re probably trying to imagine the rest of the story. You’re probably thinking that the owners of the two pit bulls rushed forward to contain their dogs. They came forward, and yes, they pulled their dogs off the poor little “goldendoodle” eventually. But here’s where the story takes a nasty turn. Did the dog owners offer assistance to the bleeding woman or her bleeding dog? No, they scurried away with their two pit bulls. And the conversation overheard? The woman told the man she couldn’t believe it happened AGAIN and that this time, the dog would have to go to the pound. Say what?

What would possess anyone whose dog has previously attacked another animal or human to allow that dog off leash in any public space? And how in God’s name can you leave an injured woman and dog in the middle of the wilderness? Think about that a moment. In an area where the wildlife includes fisher cats, bears, foxes, coyotes, and other carnivores, where the nearest house is a good twenty minutes away, you have the audacity to leave two bleeding victims? That’s unconscionable.

You might think that’s the end of the story, but it’s not. Whenever there is a dog bite to a human, the human requires treatment. In this case, the offending dog was not apprehended. That meant that the victim had to receive more than just a tetanus shot and a bandage or two. She needed a series of rabies shots. After all, anyone who lets an aggressive dog attack more than once might just be the same kind of person who doesn’t bother to get the dog vaccinated.

We have leash laws for a reason. The public has the right to hike without unwanted interference from aggressive or “overly friendly” dogs. Most dog owners understand this and respect the need to control their animals. But for those of us who are subjected to dog attacks because the owners are irresponsible, sometimes the risks just aren’t worth taking. This particular dog owner tried to do everything right, but she was sabotaged by dog owners who refused to accept responsibility for their pets. They left without even trying to make it right. If that isn’t the epitome of antisocial behavior, what is? The phrase “depraved indifference” seems an adept description of this behavior.

Will the owners of the attacking pit bull get away with this? It hardly seems likely. It turns out they were known to frequent that area, so other hikers were able to provide animal control officers with information. With two pit bulls in tow, the tall strawberry blonde woman and her companion are now on the “most wanted” list of area hikers, armed with cameras and cell phones. The couple may think that moving to another trail in another town will save them, but it won’t. They will eventually get caught when their “friendly” pit bulls are yet again off-leash. Let’s hope that no one else is injured because of their blatant disregard for the rights of others.

What Big Dog Owners Need to Know About Little Dog Owners

It’s been just over three years since my little Yorkie, Sweetie, was killed at doggie daycare, all because no one expected a “nice dog” to attack her. That tragedy should never have happened, but it did, and it taught me a very valuable lesson. When it comes to little dogs, you can never let your guard down.

I’ve had it happen more than once — the “nice dog” that comes charging at my little dog from out of nowhere. Not long after adopting another Yorkie, a male with a sweet disposition, I found myself fending off an attack by a bulldog. “Gee,” said the surprised woman standing there as I pushed her dog off mine, “she usually only goes after female dogs.” A dog with a known habit for attacking other dogs was off-leash? It’s an accident waiting to happen. (And making a statement like that after your dog attacks mine is likely to get you hauled into court for irresponsible behavior, especially because you’ve acknowledged your dog’s aggression on previous occasions. )

Today, as I was walking my little dog in a nice neighborhood, enjoying the fine spring day, I never saw the attack coming until it was too late. My little guy was leashed, wearing his harness. Suddenly, I heard shouting. Someone seemed upset, so I turned to track the noise. Much to my horror, I found a white poodle charging us. Desperately trying to grab my dog as this “nice dog” lunged for him, I fully expected the owner to step in and deal with his dog’s aggressive behavior. Instead, I found myself on my own, using that life-saving harness to pull my dog from harm’s way. Without that owner’s help, I had no choice but to protect my dog the second that dog tried to bite him. And that’s what big dog owners need to know about little dog owners like me. I am not afraid of your dog. I’m afraid of what your dog will do to mine. And that means that I am going to do whatever I have to in order to keep my dog safe when your dog attacks.

Vets and dog trainers will tell you that you can’t ever really trust dogs to get along on their own. Even that “nice dog” will become a domineering aggressor if he (or she) perceives the situation to involve prey. And for too many big dogs, that’s exactly what little dogs appear to be.

In this case, the dog ignored not only his owner’s commands, but mine as well. “No, damn it!” The only way for me to get the dog to retreat was to use force. That, in and of itself, creates a huge liability for the owner. While many people presume there are no real consequences when dogs tangle, even big ones going after little ones, there is a much more serious issue to consider. If I am injured because I am trying to protect my dog from an attack by your dog, you can be fined. In this state, it’s a minimum of $1,000. But more importantly, if I am injured while protecting my dog, you’re going to be paying the medical bills. I can also sue you for putting me in that position, not only for pain and suffering I experience because you failed to control your dog, but also for the emotional trauma of the attack.

But the real bottom line is this. If your big dog attacks my little dog, your dog may have to be put to death. Is it the result of your dog being unsociable? No. It’s the result of you not being a responsible dog owner, providing effective training, exercise, and control of your dog. Is that what you really want?

As a responsible dog owner, I am vigilant in not only protecting my own dog, but also in trying to protect yours. I know that the poodle that attacked my dog today was probably not a vicious dog. But I also know something else. When that dog owner finally corralled his dog and dragged him away, he never offered me an apology. In fact, he never said a word to me. He acted like it was no big deal that I actually had to resort to force to get his dog off mine. That’s antisocial behavior, not just from the dog, but more importantly from the owner. Responsible dog owners do the right thing because they respect all dogs, not just their own. They accept the job of not only keeping their own dogs safe, but all dogs.

Don’t assume that just because I have a little dog, I will be intimidated by your big brute. There’s no way I will stand by and allow your dog maul mine. When the dust finally settles, my dog will still be in one piece. Yours may not be. And I’m going to hold you accountable, not only for everything that happens to me and my dog, but also what happens to yours. There will be legal consequences. That’s your wake-up call to heel, my friend.

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As the author of several mystery series, I often feature dogs as characters. I am a big believer in pet adoption. Here are two of my free pet-friendly cozy mysteries for your reading pleasure: