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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??

donnie Wed 27-Feb-08 15:01:09

poison. Definitely.

clarinsgirl Wed 27-Feb-08 15:03:19

No helpful suggestions but I'll watch with interest...

clarinsgirl Wed 27-Feb-08 15:06:04

My DS (nearly 3) is now terrified of dogs thanks to the dreadful creature next door that snarls and barks if anyone walks down the side of the house or goes in the back garden. He didn't play in our garden all last year sad. This year I'm going to take it up with the neighbour though - just not sure ofthe right way to go about it...

kerala Wed 27-Feb-08 15:06:13

Poor poor you. Had a similar thing (though not as drastic it was just a staffordshire type animal coming over the huge fence we had to pay for) but horrid and frightening enough. And it makes you feel so invaded, as well as frightened of being attacked. Not to mention the lovely dog turds that are left all over the garden for your child to get covered in. It gets me so angry.

Anyway - have you tried the council? Some councils are pretty effective now at dealing with anti-social neighbours and nuisance dogs can come under this remit. Our council has a special phone line on which to report this, and the nuisance neighbour booklet we had had a special section on dogs. If they are council tenants the council are in an even stronger position to take action. Worth a try if you've got nowhere with the police.

scampadoodle Wed 27-Feb-08 15:06:59

No, you can't leave your DCs on their own with dogs, even ones you know. & why shouldn't you be able to leave your DCs to play alone in the garden without watching them like a hawk all the time?
Aren't these restricted breeds needing to be muzzled in public? Doesn't sound like the owner gives a toss, mind (& with police attitudes like that, no wonder. Do they want another child killed or maimed?)
Sorry, have no suggestions, but I sympathise sad

beaniesteve Wed 27-Feb-08 15:11:59

You cannot Poison them!

Build a bigger fence right at the end of your woodland. I know it's expensive but that would be the quickest and most simple way to protect your children, rabbits and garden - surely?

cupsoftea Wed 27-Feb-08 15:14:31

would the rspca help as he's not taking proper care of his animals? These dogs need to be rehomed. Could you take photos of the dogs so he can't deny they are his.

PollyPentapeptide Wed 27-Feb-08 15:17:20

Well you could poison them and infact I would do just that.

Buy some offcuts of meat and add the poison and place in tubs at end of garden (over the other side of the fence)

I would then keep my own dogs in and the kids of course and wait and see what happens.

Sorry but these dogs are capable of killing and we have had our own nasty experiences such as this where the police and dog wardens have been next to useless. It seems that round where we live, a child must die or be ripped sideways before they will act angry

JackanoryGirl Wed 27-Feb-08 15:18:46

Another vote for the poison idea here.

Imagine how you would feel if any of these animals attacked your child (or someone else's) and you were left with the thought that you should have poisoned it while you had the chance.

1 dead dog Vs 1 dead child.
Not much of a contest obviously.

RedJools Wed 27-Feb-08 15:23:08

The council have been no help- the dog warden didn't even come round the back, just drove up the street and back down, and told me they had patrolled the area.

They're not restricted breeds, but it is illegal for them to be out without supervision. Under the DDA, the police can take action against any dog that can be seen as a threat, but the police don't seem keen to do this- This family who own the dogs are well-known to them. They asked me if I could catch the dogs/ dart them (I'm not a safari vet!!!)The whole thing is making me sooo mad!

I'm now rowing with my dh, cos he wants to fence off an even smaller part of the garden for our lo's to play in, so they have even less room, but it will more secure. This makes me so angry, that we have to spend money we don't have and compromise our house/ garden that we worked our asses off to buy so that our kids would have a great place to grow up, putting fences all over the shop and leaving our kids with a garden the size of a postage stamp. I KNOW their safety comes first, but this is making me crazy!!

PollyPentapeptide Wed 27-Feb-08 15:23:24

What is the best way to poison a dog grin

ruty Wed 27-Feb-08 15:24:50

in your shoes i would want to poison them but not sure of your legal position or any nasty retaliation from this awful people. Building a higher fence seems the only solution to me. sad

RedJools Wed 27-Feb-08 15:25:23

I would happily kill these dogs, but don't think they would eat poisoned meat, and too worried for the kids/ wildlife/ my own dogs.

Would happily shoot it, but frightened of repurcussions. I'd love to see it on the road, I would run it down!! But ours is a very slow road with speedbumps and I'm sure it'd just leg it into the woods. Besides its numpty owners would just get more...

clarinsgirl Wed 27-Feb-08 15:25:42

You can't poison them. That would make you as bad as the dog owner. I feel very strongly that dogs should be kept under control and muzzled but that is the responsibility of the owner, not the dogs. Ultimately it may not solve the problem anyway as he would probably just go out and buy more dogs.

Do you think you could talk to him?

Walkthedinosaur Wed 27-Feb-08 15:26:11

I'm sorry I can't offer any advice, but know how you feel. A couple of years ago my neighbours dog was attacked in the field behind my house by a Staffie which was out of control. My neighbour had her dog on a lead and her toddler in a backpack. The damn dog ripped her Weimeraners(sp)throat out and she later had to be put to sleep, it was terrible. Anyhow, reports to the police and dog wardens by my neighbour and several of us who walked in the field with our toddlers led to absolutely nothing. The police/dog warden refused to do anything, my neighbour who lost her dog was victimised by the owners of the Staffie (car damaged and things like that) and we all lost our place to walk our dogs and children because of this crazy staffie. As far as I'm aware it still wanders around freely.

Could you tell the police that you were attacked by the pack in your garden and fought them off with a the mop, then go to your local paper about being the parent of toddlers and being attacked in your garden with no action being taken by the police? Aren't these dogs on the Dangerous Dogs list or something and can only go out muzzled. A local dog came into my garden last week and ripped the front off my rabbit hutch and killed her. I'm so upset and so are my DC's, I would hate any little one's to have to go through that.

ruty Wed 27-Feb-08 15:27:11

i wouldn't talk to the owner/s. If they are violent or anti social people you're not going to get anywhere and why put yourself in a vulnerable position.

PollyPentapeptide Wed 27-Feb-08 15:28:30

We have a similar situation here where a dog has been attacking other dogs for several years. A Court order was put in place against the owners a few years ago saying that the dog should be muzzled and kept on a lead but the owners ignore it.

We have been victims twice and our second dog needed many weeks of surgery to recover.

Now I also know that this dog has shown aggression to humans (children) in the past but the police won't/can't do a thing (the owner is an ex policeman - surprise surprise).

Local residents have petitioned the police and statements have been made but nothing will be done until that dog kills a child.

I no longer allow my own children to walk our dog (incase this other dog is around) and they are banned from our local playpark incase the bump into this animal on his walks.

It is so wrong that we live in fear like this as have many local residents for the past 5 years.

So if I seem callous when I ask about dog pouisoning then tough shit. I will not stand by and allow a child to be killed by this animal.

MyEye Wed 27-Feb-08 15:30:48

how awful.
I'd write to my MP explaining that the council and police aren't that bothered, though it's illegal for these breeds to be off the lead unsupervised. And then hassle him/her like mad, follow up at a surgery if necc. (Surely any sane person would think this is outrageous?)

southutsire Wed 27-Feb-08 15:31:51

Go to the local press and embarrass the police into acting? Our paper recently had a piece on dogs that were terrorising the neighbourhood and had killed someone else's dog (5 all belonged to the same man).

Re poison, if the woods beyond the OP's garden are a public place it would be totally irresponsible to put poison there.

PollyPentapeptide Wed 27-Feb-08 15:33:25

The woods are part of the ops property (although behind a fence). The dogs are allowed to tresspass there.

clarinsgirl Wed 27-Feb-08 15:34:43

Ah, just re-read the OP and seen the bit about drug runners and murderers - probably best not to go round for a chat then wink. You said in the OP that you owned the woodland - could you fence it off at the far end using barbed wire which may not cost so much and do the trick? or look here

BabiesEverywhere Wed 27-Feb-08 15:35:46

What about drugging them and taking them to an animal shelter for rehoming, one in the next county if you can drive that far.

Maybe if they lose a few dogs, they'll start to supervise them.

PollyPentapeptide Wed 27-Feb-08 15:36:36

I like the idea of barbed wire - can't be that expensive

And then when you have them trapped in the wire - poison them grin

PollyPentapeptide Wed 27-Feb-08 15:38:00

Or call in the Dog Whisperer (and we can all troop round an oggle at him while he says 'shhh' and 'there you go') <swoon>

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