Dog bite, what's normal procudure

Hello Everyone,

(Warning, this is a very long post with lots of detail. I apologize in advance for the length.)

We are having a serious issue with a next door neighbor and their dog. This dog was a “stray” in the neighborhood for a long time. The owner lived about a mile down the road from us, but wasn’t interested in keeping the dog on his property. Usually this wouldn’t be a problem except this dog (a lab mix) was trained as a hunting/fighting dog, we understand that it was used for hog hunting. The dog very docile when around humans, but turns into a killer when around other animals.

We live on 5 acres as do most of our neighbors. Our property is fenced off with field fence. We have three dogs of our own and we like to be able to let them run on our acreage. Since it is completely fenced in we don’t have to worry about them leaving the property. If they were to somehow escape from our fenced property, each one wears his own GPS and we are notified immediately if they “go out of area”. About a year ago this “stray” dog found it’s way onto our property and attacked our Great Dane, scarring his face. Luckily we were home at the time and I was able to break up the dog fight. We called animal control, they came out and took the lab away, the animal control officer commented at the time that he had a hell of a time getting the dog under control and his word were that he was an “aggressive dog”. Our next door neighbor discovered that this animal was in the possession of the local pound and for some reason decided to “rescue” the dog and bring it home (She had been feeding it for years, so it would come to her house for food). So now we have this aggressive dog living right next door.

The problem we have with this situation is that the neighbor lets her dog run free on her property (usually not an issue), between our property and hers is a field fence that has is made of wire with holes about 4"x4". If we let our dogs out it isn’t long before both her and our dogs are at the common fence barking at each other. Now, because of the temperament of her dog it will literally push it’s head and shouders through the holes in the fence to attack our dogs. We have had to go and beat her dog off of ours several times in the past year. I can say that if we hadn’t been there to break up the fight, our dog would have been killed. I have rarely seen an animal fight so hard and attack with such ferocity.

Fast forward to a few days ago. We had a discussion with our neighbor several months ago and told her that this situation cannot continue. It is dangerous to her dog and ours. We made an agreement with her to put out a flag on our common fence (ours red, hers yellow) when our dogs were outside so we could be sure and never let the dogs out at the same time. We have religiously followed the agreement putting up the red flag each and every time our dogs are let out to exercise or use the bathroom. Unfortunately, she has made zero effort to do the same and it almost seems as if she’ll let her dog out as soon as she sees ours outside. A problem to say the least.

Well, three days ago I went to let out dogs out to go to the bathroom. Before doing so I went outside, looked for her flag (it wasn’t up) and scanned her yard to make sure that her dogs weren’t in her yard. Seeing that all was clear I let our three dogs out. Less than a minute after our dogs were in the yard, her comes her lab snarling and barking at full speed toward the fence. Our Great Dane happened to be at the fence line at the time peeing on a tree and before we had time to react the lab had it’s head and shoulders through the fence and had the Dane’s snout in his jaws. My wife grabbed a metal pole that was nearby and hit the lab in a effort to get it to release it’s bite. The metal pole had zero effect and our Dane was yelping in pain. My wife screamed for me to help and I ran inside the house to retrieve my shotgun. (I had no intention of shooting the dog, rather the noise from the gun generally will make the dogs run back to their homes). I ran back outside and discovered that the lab had ceased biting the Dane and had instead clamped down on my wife’s arm.

Had I a clear shot at the dog I would have killed it on the spot, however this wasn’t possible as my wife was firmly attached to the dogs mouth. So, I shot into the air twice and the dog finally let go on hearing the second shot. Thankfully my wife’s injuries were limited to two puncture holes. We called animal control right away and they arrived about an hour later. The officer took our statement and took pictures of the wounds on my wife’s arm and our Dane’s face. He told us that he would be taking the dog and issuing a ticket to the neighbor. We watched him drive next door and it looked like he was preparing to take the lab as he opened the cage door on his truck and got out the pole that is used to collar dogs. As all this was happening we watched (but couldn’t hear) a very animated neighbor plead her case with the animal control officer, this included throwing herself on the ground several times.

After about a half and hour he returned to our house and told us that he would not be taking the dog, but instead issued her a ticket and told her that her dog cannot leave the house for ten days unless on a leash. He then told us that the neighbor could not produce a rabies vaccination for the animal and it did not have current tags. This is what the ticket was issued for. So, with all of that my question is, is it normal for animal control to not impound a dog that has bitten someone and that dog has no proof of a rabies vaccination? I am just stunned that the dog was not taken in and quarantined to make sure that it isn’t rabid. Now, I don’t think that the dog is rabid as she got him from the pound a little over a year ago and he certainly would have gotten his vaccination then, I’m sure that the vaccination doesn’t run out one year to the day it is given. The officer was nice to us and I don’t want to cause any problems for him, but I am thinking of heading down to Animal Control on Monday and see if his actions were correct.

I am thinking that he had every intention of taking that dog in and only changed his mind after her wailing and pleading, he felt sorry for her. Unfortunately we are still left with this, in our opinion, vicious dog next door. We called a fence company and we are thinking of having a new fence installed that will be impossible for the dog to get it’s head through. The only problem with that is that our common fence is over 500’ long and we are looking at an expense of close to $4,000. The Animal Control officer’s suggestion to me was to “let the dog come on to your property and shoot the damn thing”. Well, I guess that is an option, but I really am not the type to want to kill anything, however I will shoot it dead if I find it on our property. Not because I want to kill something, but rather I am certain that dog will kill one of our animals if it has the chance. Not to mention our children, as I’ve said before I have not witnessed this dog being aggressive to humans, but it did chomp down on my wife while she was trying to separate the two dogs, so I am not so sure anymore.

I apologize for this being so damn long, but I thought it was important to give the whole story. So, the questions are:

1: What is generally done when a dog who’s vaccination records are in question bites a human?

2: Should I file a complaint with the County in regards to the Animal Control Officer’s response to our neighbor’s sob story, allowing the dog to stay?

3: Knowing what I know, would you hesitate to shoot this dog if it would appear on your property? (BTW, I have consulted with both Animal Control and the Sherriff’s Office, if their dog is on our property, it’s fair game.)
You would think that our neighbor would just cooperate with us when it comes to the dogs. Is it really all that difficult to put up a stupid piece of yellow cloth when you let your dog out? I swear I think that she likes the dogs to fight and this is intentional. FWIW, she hasn’t asked once if my wife was okay, instead she just yelled across the fence that we lied and made the whole thing up. My God, if my dog bit someone I would be in a panic, afraid I would be sued. Not this lady. We move out to acreage to get away from annoying neighbors and look what we get. Also, our neighbor has been cited several times by the County when it comes to animals. A quick check of online records show she has been cited three times in the last few years for letting her dogs run loose in the area.

You have gone above and beyond the call of duty. The animal has attacked and wounded what is most precious in your life. Your OP here is on record.

You run the risk and tsuris of having to have the damn dog possibly put someone in danger again. And of course you pay your taxes for the government to deal with threats, from arrest and punishment, but you are on your own here unfortunately.

If you are sure of the law, put up a sign that says stray dogs found on your property will be shot. Write a registered letter to your neighbor saying so, citing the law. Nothing else.

A sucky thing. And you’re a dog lover. All the more important to put that dog down.

I know it’s easy for me just to type away while you’re in real big practical and emotional trouble.

The procedure followed by an animal control officer called out for a dog bite complaint varies enormously from jurisdiction to jurisdiction (and in your case, apparently, on the whim of the officer). If it was me, I would keep my shotgun loaded.

Citronella spray, sprayed right in the dog’s face, will usually break up a dog fight. Also a high pressure water hose, which has the advantage of not running out.

To keep your dogs safe, fairly cheaply, I would put up an electric livestock fence well to the inside of your existing fence, and teach your dogs what it means. If you can afford it use electrified netting as it is easier to see.

It would be by far the best if this dog was humanely put down, but it looks like that’s not going to happen.

I’m surprised that an aggressive dog such as this was declared a “dangerous dog”. Or, it could be declared as such and you don’t know this so I’d look into that. The reason is that a dangerous dog has a lot of restrictions on how they are kept and the owner has to have dangerous dog insurance in the event of an incident.

You should also look into what is or not allowed for protection. In Fairfax County, VA one can not carry mace/pepper spray and use it on an aggressive dog. You can beat the shit out of it with a “stick” though. Citronella spray is also allowed.

Another big issue is that none of the dogs are on a leash. So, it can be seen as a 50/50 type thing and each party is responsible for their own damages.

If the biting dog has not been vaccinated for rabies, your wife would be well advised to get the vaccine. Didn’t she get medical attention? If not, she should do so ASAP as she is at risk for at the very least a nasty infection. Puncture wounds are well known for harboring anaerobic bacteria. Rabies is almost 100% fatal and is a nasty, nasty death. Likewise tetanus.

Send all medical bills to the irresponsible neighbor. Follow up with a lawsuit for permanent scarring, pain and suffering.

Oh, and send the neighbor the bill for the dog-proof fence, too.

And keep your gun loaded until the fence is completed.

In my jurisdiction this dog would be put down–two strikes. But this is in no way a docile dog around humans if humans can’t call it off another dog or off a person. Not docile. It’s dangerous.

About the bite, I would call the shelter/pound and find out if they vaccinated it. I would think so, but this isn’t something you want to leave to chance. It’s true that vaccines don’t expire exactly one year after they are administered but this is something else you could ask when you call the pound.

The bites should be attended to in any case. Most people I know who’ve been bitten have gotten antibiotics. This isn’t something to mess around with either.

So in answer to your questions, (1) rabies shots are expensive and painful but if the dog’s immunity is in any way in question, get them (2) yes I would file some kind of complaint with animal control about how this all went down and (3) if it were me, I wouldn’t shoot the dog but I would do everything in my power to get the dog taken out of this situation. This by the way is because as far as I know I am only a great shot when aiming at a non-moving target in a completely controlled situation, which it wouldn’t be.

You have the most worthless animal control that I have ever heard of. Usually, the first thing they ask for is vaccination records and if none then they take the dog. The victim has the choice to ask for the dog to be tested which means its destruction as they have to look at brain tissue. This dog will not stop. Dogs are not human and can not be reasoned with only trained. If trained a certain way its very hard to untrain and retrain certain things.

I would pursue a dangerous dog charge to get a paper trail going so that you can get the dog removed and, unfortunately, euthanized. Not your fault though, whoever trained the dog to be an attack dog is at fault.

Wow. This is mind blowing. If a dog had attacked my wife the first thing I would have done was walk over there and shoot it on the spot. I don’t know how you can have any tolerance for that. What if it’s your kid next time? Sounds like the owner could use a beating herself. If you can’t rely upon the owner or the organization that is supposed to control this kind of thing in a reasonable fashion, the only thing that makes sense is to handle it your own way.

BTW, this situation would make for a great Judge Judy episode. She’d be all over the irresponsible dog owner like white on rice.

OP is asking for opinions. Moved from GQ to IMHO.

samclem, moderator

I’m sorry, I must admit that the op was so long that I didn’t read it. As the subject matter can be very serious, I choose to respond anyway.
Rabies is 100% fatal.
100%. If one contracts rabies, one dies from rabies.
If a dog that has bitten someone can be observed for 10 days, and does not die of rabies within that time, then the dog did not have rabies when the bite occurred.
If, during the 10 day period, the dog displays *any *signs of rabies, the dog must surrender it’s brain for testing; and the bitten should recieve rabies treatment.

I believe that there is one documented case of a person surviving rabies that was not diagnosed until symptoms appeared. One. Not the kind of odds to take.

Unless I’m missing something, we haven’t heard back from the OP. I hope that all is well.

It’s unlikely the dog has rabies, if it was at the pound last year and “adopted”. It would have been vaccinated at the time and the vaccine lasts a few years (Three, iirc.) Besides the dog always acts like this. That said, the bite will probably need careful cleaning. Puncture wounds are nasty.

obbn - dog laws vary wildly by city and state. But this is what I would do in your shoes.

You should take photos of the wounds and your wife should go to the doctor for documentation. Then the Dane should go to get records from your vet.

Talk to a lawyer familiar with animal issues in your neighborhood about what you need to do to have the dog impounded. Also talk with him about getting your yard fenced better. Have the lawyer write to this lady that you plan to sue her for the cost of the medical and vet bills plus half the cost of fencing the yard.

Go to the police with the photos and medical records. File a police complaint against your neighbor if its possible in your area. The lawyer will advise you how to do this.

I wouldn’t waste any more time with animal control unless the dog ends up physically in your yard (not just its face). I also wouldn’t shoot the dog or harm your neighbor’s property in any way. In the short term, you should walk your dogs on a leash.

Ultimately, getting your case in front of a judge is probably the best way to resolve this but it won’t be quick.

It’s very sad but it sounds like the neighbor dog is out of options. It’s a crying shame that it got stuck with such dipshit owners.

Thanks for all the responses. So far, the neighbor has followed the orders from Animal Control and we haven’t seen the dog since this has happened. I’m going down to the Country tomorrow and verify that the dog had it’s shots before being speed and try to bump this up the chain of command.

Overall I feel terrible about the situation and really wish I could see some cooperation with the neighbor, but I don’t have any hopes of that happening. I have made up my mind already to shoot the animal if I catch it roaming on our property. It saddens me for although I am a gun person, I have zero desire to shoot and kill anything other than the occasional Taliban soda can that crosses our local shooting range.

Thankfully my wife’s injuries seem to be healing without a problem. We’ll chalk that up to good luck. It sucks when a problem like this arises, as it seems there is no winning answer. Thanks everyone.

I agree with you and at the time my first thought was to walk next door and introduce some lead into the dogs skull. However I’m glad I didn’t. Firstly, if I shoot the dog on her property I’ll be going to jail, this was made very clear to me by a LEO and Animal Control. Secondly, it’s quite possible my neighbor is armed as well. If I saw someone approaching my home with a firearm things would escalate very quickly, so I would rather not chance a confrontation like that.

Essentially I did what my father taught me and drilled into my head, when something like that happens and your thinking of reacting, take a few minutes to calm down before doing something you’ll regret. If I had reacted right away I’m sure that my emotions would have gotten the best of me. But a quick thought of the consequences calmed my anger.

I love dogs. I hate guns. You’re right. You need a rifle, not a shotgun.

If the dog hasn’t been tested, get the rabies course.

And it’s the Animal Control Officer’s responsibilities to put down the dog, not your’s, and s/he should be reported.

I would have shot that dog the first time it attacked my dogs. Not even thought about it. Have done this and will do again.

According to a recent Radiolab podcast, they’re up to five survivors, out of 30 who have been tried on the new Milwaukee (coma) protocol. And the treatment causes nerve damage. So even best case, it’s not a great outcome.

As MLS said, that’s treatment after symptoms appear. Soon after the bite, you can get the shots.