Kudos to Animal Care and Control Manager Dan Niziolek for his careful consideration and handling of the Odie incident — where Odie, a pit bull escaped from his yard attacked and injured Lucy, a Springer Spaniel being walked on a public sidewalk near his house.
Designating Odie as a “Dangerous Dog” in this case was the correct action to take. Odie did not bite a human — Odie bit another dog: Odie is a DINOS — a Dog in Need of Space [http://dogsinneedofspace.com/]. This doesn’t mean he is prone to biting people, any more than a cat who kills mice is prone to biting people; it simply means he doesn’t interact well with other dogs.
Had Odie gone after the people, Dan Niziolek’s job would have been easier; Odie clearly would deserve euthanasia. But in this case — stated by the one person who got bit — it might have been Lucy, not Odie that bit him, so kudos to Dan Niziolek for making the unpopular but correct call of placing more emphasis on animals biting humans than on animals biting other animals in this no-win situation.
While the blame in this situation clearly sits with Odie’s owner, who failed Lucy, his neighbors and his pets Odie, Lily and Tiga by failing to provide adequate fencing and supervision, there is one more relevant element that is not directly mentioned in the article but can be discerned when you read between the lines: these dogs displayed aggression when people walked dogs by their yard. These dogs were not breaking the law by running at large, but there is an infraction here none the less and by addressing the boundary aggression issue lives might be saved.
I encountered a dog with boundary aggression, and had I not intervened with a call to Animal Control, it might well have ended up biting — and would then have been declare dangerous, like Odie. In this case a neighbor got a new dog and the dog was allowed to charge at the fence line, menacing me and my dogs when we walked near. No corrections were given to the new dog; despite the ruckus he raised he was allowed to act this way with impunity.
I was reluctant to call Animal Control, he was just barking and snarling on his side of the fence — he wasn’t running loose and chasing anyone, and no one — least of all a fellow dog owner — wants to call Animal Control on a neighbor. It took me nearly getting bit through the fence before I was frightened enough to call Animal Control. A/C immediately came out and educated the dog’s owner about ways to address and change the dog’s behavior. Through showing leadership by redirecting his fence fighting behaviors, the owner turned the situation around and now this dog is a much nicer, better mannered dog and should he slip back into his old bad ways he gets a verbal correction from his owner and/or physically escorted back into the house; his bad behaviors on his side of the fence are no longer tolerated by me and his owner.
They say it takes a village to raise a child, and in the city we live in it very well may take a neighborhood to raise a good dog … and good dog owner.
Fence fighting behaviors, charging and menacing the fence or boundary as you
and your dog walk by are aggressive behaviors that should not be
tolerated and are behaviors that should be reported to Animal Control.
Nipping the marginal behaviors in the bud may help make better dog owners of
us all — and may make safer neighborhoods for all of us.