Monday, July 15, 2013
Mans Best Friend. Dogs Worst Enemy.
If you have the time, quickly read the above article. Then read my blog. I will summarize and quote it anyway.
I have had lots of dogs in my life. Most were black and golden labs. They are supposed to be the good dogs. The friendly ones. The ones who love everyone.
And they are. They are great dogs. They do pretty much love everyone and walk out the door and down the street with their tails wagging and looking to be petted and lick your face.
However, they are still dogs. Never forget that. I say that, because so many people do forget that. Any dog will bite or attack if they think they or their owner are being threatened. That is their nature and we should never take that away from them.
We shouldn't take that away from them, but it is our duty to learn to control them if you want to have them and expose them to others. Because when we don't, they act like nature intended them to, and in so doing, in many cases, get a death sentence for themselves. For themselves, but for something we did, or more accurately, something we didn't do.
Last night, I went on my one hour walk, as I often do. I encountered many dogs. Most were very well behaved and under full control by their owners. They likely will never pose any harm or dangers to others.
Then there were the 3 others who likely will.
I always pass this German Sheppard on my walk, and I have come to know him or her well over the past couple of years. I used to let it startle me, but no more. I assume it is going to be there. I have never actually seen this dog in the open, because it is always behind a tall wood fence. However, it does lunge and seems very aggressive. I noticed it and took note because one of the boards is damaged and the dog can actually get its head out beyond the fence and could in theory attack or bite me, or others. It is very possible that a child could be walking and get too close to the fence and then be mauled.
Now, the dog is chained and in theory cannot get out of the yard. But it is a menace. For sure. Or so I thought.
Two days ago, I was walking and as I approached the house two houses down from this dog, I walked on the other side of the street, reasonably quietly. I did this to hopefully go by unnoticed. Not because I am scared of the dog, because I am not. It is chained and there is a fence. There is no real danger. But because I like peace and quiet on my walk and that dog disturbs that. It is a maniac barker.
On this day, as I was walking on the other side of the road, an adult woman walked right up to the dog, and to my amazement, she was petting it through the fence and the dog acted like a happy puppy. Until....it saw me across the street. Then it went angry mad and territorial, as it always does. This startled the woman, because obviously she hadn't thought the dog would do that.
To me, this dog has obviously not been socialized properly and these owners just keep it in the backyard, chained up. German Sheppards have a reputation, for as long as I have lived, as great family dogs, but also that they are highly unpredictable and also extremely territorial and loyal. That is why they are used for and make good guard dogs. But this dog is a pet, and it should be treated as such. This isn't some remote rural farm or place of business. This is the middle of a very populated and busy neighborhood. Thousands of people walk this route everyday. The owners do not deserve to have a dog. Certainly not this dog. And one day, some 3 year old is going to wander away from her mommy while she is checking her text messages and get bitten badly. Then, the dog is going to be put down. And it will be on the owners. At the very least, they should fix that board so the dog can only bark and do no more. In reality, they should get it some training and then socialize it, in the hopes that it isn't too late to retard this behavior.
I know lots of great German Sheppards who are family dogs, because they are socialized and learn their commands. This dog appears to be one who could have been that dog. But it isn't. And sadly, it will pay the price for that. With its life.
Fast forward about half an hour. I have now passed about 20 or 30 dogs. All out for walks. All on a leash. All well behaved and under full control of their owners. As it should be. Then, almost home, I passed a young lady, maybe 17 or 18, who was taking her Burnese Mountain Dog Puppy out for a walk. Or, I should say, the dog was taking her. Pulling her to be more accurate. She could barely contain it, and really she couldn't. She was choking it. And it was dragging her and itself towards me. While it is a puppy, it is not a baby. It is almost full grown, has no manners or thought that it can be controlled, and if it got far enough onto the street, it could hurt someone, including someone like me who is fairly strong and outweighs it. This dog also barks like a dog who threatens you. It has never been properly trained or disciplined.
I have passed it a few times now, on the street, and it also lunges at other dogs, putting other owners in a tough position. Last night, I almost spoke up and told this girl to get someone to train this dog or else I will call animal control. I didn't, but I likely will next time. She is clearly not capable of handling the dog as it is now. If I had 1 hour with it, I could teach it and it would listen. It just doesn't understand. It is another candidate to end up euthanized when it does something that causes others to act. And again, that will be because of the owners negligence. Not the dogs. As a rule, Bernese Mountain dogs are very well behaved and lovable. Great family pets. This one likely could be as well.
Now, the third dog. I have passed this very tiny, skinny, Jack Russell adult female more than a few times on my walks. It is yappy and peppy, like most Jack Russells. Most of them are actually just yappy, but friendly. This one isn't. How do I know that? Because I almost petted it once. But the kid who was walking it told me that she bites, and she will if I don't back away. He had no trouble controlling this dog and he was responsible enough to tell me she is not friendly.
Now, back to the link I posted earlier.
"Like most pit bull type dogs, Bentham wanted nothing more than to be loved by people, even though people did these egregious acts to him. The animal control officer and her dedicated volunteer networked with Long Way Home Animal Sanctuary & Pit Bull Rescue, and the world took notice. Long Way Home did a television, radio, and newspaper blitz and started an international online campaign to raise funds. Through the generosity of people from South Africa, Belize, Canada, Argentina, and a dozen other countries, they were able to raise the funds to get all of his injuries treated. With the extra funds, Bentham was neutered, heartworm tested, temperament/personality tested, boarded, leash trained, and became a great dog in the making. After international attention and literally tens of thousands of Facebook views, Bentham was adopted by a lovely woman in Houston who fell in love with him—just a mere two hours away!"
"Sadly, several months later, Bentham’s happy ending has ended. He was enjoying a lovely Texas afternoon outside with his owner and bit a nearby dog; now, the apartment complex refuses to allow Bentham to stay (likely because of his breed), regardless of how much his adoptive mom pleads."
Pit Bulls, like any other dog, come with breeding traits and reputations. And like any other dog, they want to be loved, can be trained and likely will be loving and well behaved. But they also are feared by many and while my Black Lab or the Jack Russell on my street can take a small bite out of someone once and get away with it, a Pit Bull can't. And likely a German Sheppard who is a menace can't either. It is up to the owner to make sure it just can't happen. It needs to be leashed and under control, or kept behind a fence unless you are certain you can control it at all times, with reasonable certainty. That didn't happen in this case, and sadly, a dog that likely deserved a better future will be put down.
It is sad that people think they can do whatever they want with a dog and then the dog suffers for that. As citizens, we need to speak up and be brave enough to do so before it is too late. If I pass that Bernese dog again, I am going to do that. Because it is the right thing to do when someone is doing the wrong thing and a third party (the dog) has to pay the price for that.
When you take on a pet, you have certain responsibilities. Some of those are shelter and food and taking care of their health needs. But they don't end there. Love isn't enough. You have to teach them manners and make sure they can exist safely in the world you have placed them.
If you can't do that, be responsible enough to do that, let someone else do it. It is their lives at stake, not yours.