to be able to expect my kids to play safely in our own back garden?

(185 Posts)
RedJools Wed 27-Feb-08 14:59:08

Grrr! We have a back garden, which backs onto woodland which we also own. It is lovely and, I thought, a great place for our kids, as I grew up in the house next door to this, and loved the outdoor space as a child. At the moment dd1 and dd2 have part of the garden almost completely fenced off to play in. They are 4 and 2.5. We also have 2 rabbits in a big run, that the kids love to play with, sandpits, chutes a playhouse etc. It's not a huge garden, although we have a lot of space which I hope eventually to turn into more garden for them to play in. So far so good.

Unfortunately, some idiot who lives way over the other side of our woods has a Japanese Akita, a Rottweiler and a Staffie x, which he seems to make no attempt to keep in. They have burst their way into our garden and attempted to kill our rabbits, causing huge damage to the run and garden.Having caught them in the garden 4 times, we informed the police, who told us they can't do anything unless we know whose dogs they are. (From this logic, don't bother telling the police if your house gets burgled, unless you know who did it) So we found out who owned the dogs, which wasn't hard, as it turns out they have been reported to the police several times by other neighbours and belong to the local hard-cases (drug-runners, murderers etc). Having passed this information on to the police, I was told there is nothing we can do unless we can prove they are his dogs! (So even if you find out who burgled your house, don't bother going to the police until you have detailed your fingerprint evidence and run your DNA samples)

I am not frightened of dogs. I am a vet with 12 years experience, and as such I do know a bit about these breeds. Enough to know they should be treated with caution, and never out without an owner on their own, never mind in a pack! Amongst the useful suggestions the police gave me were:
Fence off all our ground (would only cost about £2000-£3000, no problem!!!!)
Put poison down- I have 3 small children and 2 dogs of our own! Besides "is that legal?" "Oh, er, not sure!"
Phone the dog warden- he came 2d later!!
Check and see if the owners name was on the collar- yeah, as its standing growling at me with its mates, I'll just casually sashay up to it and grab it by the collar...
I've taken photos and we finally scraped together enough money to reinforce the fence and make it higher. Was just starting to relax, even though I know the beasts are still crashing about in our woods/ driveway, until I saw the bloody rottie sauntering past my kitchen window today, round my front garden, through the front gate and round the back again!! I saw red and chased it, (breaking my good mop in the process-grr!), and DH has had to give up his afternoon off to get stuff to block up the bit beside the front gate now!! Its like living in Fort Knox, and I STILL don't feel safe letting my kids out the back. Yes, I am usually out there with them, but even if I was, and they were playing with the rabbits would I be quick enough if these dogs came back?

I KNOW their owners might say they are "big softies" (heard that sooo many times, usually before a dog goes for my face!) but surely they should not be roaming unsupervised in a street where kids often kick a football/ ride bikes/ walk smaller dogs? In fact, I know they shouldn't. the police say they have spoken to the owner, but that is all they can do. I don't want to get involved with these people if I can help it- by all accounts they are nasty and dangerous, and my dh is away quite a lot. I asked the police to stress to the owners that they were going into gardens where there were small children, but that doesn't seem to have pricked their conscience. I could understand the dogs escaping once, or even twice, but over the last year they have been in my garden about 12 times! Obviously I don't want to hurt the dogs, as a vet, and , more importantly, for fear of retribution!! But I am getting so angry now- for once even the rottie was scared of me today, although possibly because it didn't have the others with it!

Any ideas??

superloopy Fri 29-Feb-08 04:24:17

Oh dear just read this

HereComeTheGirls Fri 29-Feb-08 08:25:19

Hmm..I am thinking perhaps you could pretend/suggest to the police that the dogs have been aggressive towards your child, when noone was looking of course....? But I suppose that would be a bit of a minefield, not to mention slightly criminal.....shame on me for suggesting it!!!

What I don't understand in Superloopy's links is:
'"Police are continuing to make local enquiries but it is not clear at this stage whether any criminal offences have been disclosed," a spokeswoman added. '

Eh? Does that mean it might be legal to let your dog go in someone else's garden and kill their pets?

okeydokeygirl Fri 29-Feb-08 19:35:20

I am very much a dog lover and I get really irate when dog owners get away with behaving like this. I used to be housing officer at had to deal with these kind of complaints all the time. At the end of the day, the dog warden (which should be part of the council) and the police both have powers to deal with this and this is what they should be doing. I think the RSPCA would only get involved if the dogs were being mistreated such as not being fed. I agree with MyEye and Southutsire that you should go down the legal route and keep pursuing this with the dog warden in the first instance. Keep a log of what is happening and when, and try to make a detailed note of what has happened in the past. The best thing to do is call the warden as soon as you see any of the dogs loose - anywhere in the public/on your land. You may find that you get them at the right time and the dog warden can pick the dogs up. And keep calling them EVERY time. If you don't get anywhere then go to your MP and/or the papers. I would definitely try to find out what kind of people the owners are. Being labeled a drug dealer and into illegal activities can cover a huge spectrum. It maybe that what they are known for is not that scary and you would not be subject to repercussions. But if they are really are hard core then you may have to bite the bullet and fence your land. I was once crashed into by someone local and there were loads of witnesses. He was uninsured but after some research about his background I decided that the insurance money really was not worth getting involved with him at any level - but then i do live in a really dodgy area. I would also try and find out if they are council tenants - if they are - then this could be your best way forward as the council has a duty to follow up this kind of anti social behavior and they have quite a lot of legal powers to do so. Be warned though, you will need to keep really detailed diary notes of what has happened and when, and you could be called as a witness should it proceed to court. This would really depend on what course of legal action the council took, and what kind of people the dog owners really are. One final thought. From the description of your property, it sounds really lovely. Maybe the authorities are taking the attitude that you are wealthy enough to sort it yourself. It is not the right attitude but might possibly be a factor in your lack of help. In the meantime, I would take every precaution to secure a section for your children. It may not seem fair, and may cost you, but could you live with the guilt if the worse did happen? Many best wishes and loads and loads of luck.

expatinscotland Fri 29-Feb-08 19:38:49

I'm sorry, but I'd find a way to get rid of them.

I know it's not their fault and blah blah blah, but life's too short.

Make them go away.

Underconstruction Sat 01-Mar-08 00:40:55

Years ago we lived next door to a guy who was sick of all the neighbourhood dogs peeing on his doorstep when his dog was on heat. He wired his bootscraper to the mains. The next suitor was catapulted into the road and found looking like nothing more than a hit and run. A little draconian for an undesirable visiting your dog (or even your daughter!), but perhaps appropriate on this occasion.

readytopop Sat 01-Mar-08 01:28:25

pmsl at this thread grin

sorry, no constructive ideas, I'm with the bourneville in the meat direction and poisoning the owners.

I do wish you the very best with this, dcs are too precious to be risking.

Lovesdogsandcats Sat 01-Mar-08 12:21:00

Underconstruction, your neighbour was a total twat then. Why was his dog not speyed? What a barbaric way to deal with dogs who through no fault of their own, have owners who don't give a fuck and let them wander the neighbourhood?

Joolyjoolyjoo Sat 01-Mar-08 12:40:07

(name changed- thought I sounded a bit like a militant communist!)
Okeydokeygirl- yeah, I will keep at the dog warden- if these dogs get in again, they will find it hard to get out, due to our new fencing, and then hopefully the warden will maybe one day actually come round . Last time it took me 15 minutes to even get through to someone on the phone, so not holding my breath!!I take your point about logging the incidents- I'm noting each "sighting" on my calendar, just in case!

Unfortunately it seems that these people really are that bad. Even this morning I mentioned the incident at my dd's ballet class, and made vague reference to the "bad lot" that were their owners and immediately was asked "It's not the xxxxxxs, is it?" Yup! Sharp intakes of breath all round!!! We just moved back here a couple of years ago, but everyone else seems to know this extended mafiosa family!!

Yeah, we do have a nice house in a nice area (thanks to some major help from my dad!) and you're right- I think people assume we therefore have money (hahaha!) I bet the nasty owners just think we are posh twats making a fuss cos their dogs are trampling our prize-winning crocuses or something!!! I did try to get the police to set them straight, but hey ho!

Thanks for all your help and support, guys! This thread has let me vent and provided some laughs, which I needed. I need to let this go, as I have gotten really wound up, and DH and I have ended up fighting, cos he just seems to accept it and bite the bullet, shell out and spend days repairing the fence. For me, otoh, my sense of fairness is outraged, and I find it hard to get over. I do tend to rant, which he finds unhelpful! Aaaargh! So thanks again! On the bright side, its hips looked a bit dodgy when I saw it the other day, and it can't live forever....

Triathlete Sun 02-Mar-08 21:58:22

We have a similar situation. Not a drug dealer, just a wastrel, letting his staffie into our garden. I tried to do the adult thing, and got abuse. Got the dog warden, neighbourhood warden, PCSOs and eventually the real police involved. Took flippin' ages. Had I known about Bournville then, I'd have done it without compunction. Yes it's rough on the dog, but if I'm choosing between some psycho staffie and my darling little son, there's no contest.

I absolutely agree that if you are law-abiding, responsible and trying to behave properly, then no-one gives a shit. There's almost no recourse.

We kept dogs when I was a kid, and put a lot of effort into being responsible dog owners. Where we lived, in the country, if your dog wasn't under control it got shot, very quickly.

Ideally of course, we'd shoot the owners and rehouse the dogs.

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