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Help. Neighbour's dog is a danger to my DCs

(9 Posts)
sosickofthesoundofscreaming Fri 12-Nov-10 15:06:20

I'll apologise in advance for a long post, and please don't jump to the conclusion I am a dog-hater. In the usual run of things I am very pro-dog and think it is great for my kids to be exposed pets of all kinds.

A bit of background - two doors down we have an alcoholic eccentric living. Currently she is on the wagon, after a spell in re-hab - but she shae has lapsed many times before. She is disabled, after an unsuccessful hip operation. She now walks with a stick and is generaly in ill-health. All the neighbours around here have been involved at one point or another, taking care of her pets, taking her to hospital, clearing the excrement and vomit from her house when things have become really bad.

She has a lovely black Lab, who is a long standing pet, as well as two cats and two chickens. She has previously (fairly recently) had to return a young airdale to the breeder she got it from when it got simply too much for her (shortly before she was last hospitalised as a result of her alcoholism).

Anyhow, very recently she acquired a 'rescue' collie from a young couple who live nearby and who felt it was too dangerous to have in their home with their young baby. I didn't think it was a particularly good idea, but when she acquired it simply thought it was none of my business - I would just have to be a bit watchful with my DCs.

Two weeks ago, my DD (2.7) was walking from our house to our garden along a shared path. This new collie, along with two other dogs, careered out of an adjoining gate barking aggressively and piled on top of her. She went down underneath them screaming for me. I was a little way back up the path, carrying my DS (6months). I yelled at the dogs, and the owners called them back. At this point all but the collie retreated. I used my most aggressive voice to tell it to 'get out of it', and after thinking twice it did. The owner was very apologetic, but I was in too much of a temper to talk. I thought about what to say to her for a couple of days, but events overtook me.

The next part of the saga occurred a few days later, when I witnessed the same collie bite another neighbour (entirely unprovoked and quite viciously) on the street outside my house. At this point I decided things had gone too far, and spoke to the neighbour who had been bitten. She and I both then reported the matter to the police, as the owner was unwilling to take any action.

The police were unhelpful at best. The incident with my daughter they have discounted. On the basis that the owner said all that happened was the dogs barked, ran past and my daughter fell over. (She actually saw none of what happened because she was the other side of a hedge). For the bite, they wanted to go down the route of 'community resolution' ie. we forget about it and let this woman carry on with the dog as before. After a lot of pressure, the owner was finally given a caution.

All well and good, until today. I came home with my DS in the pushchair and my DD walking beside me to find this dog loose on the street. The owner was stood chatting to the postman, whilst the collie made a start up the street towards us. I yelled at it to back off and it did - so in a sense it is a storm in a teacup, but I am genuinely afraid of letting my kids on the street now. Even if they are with me, I can only protect one at a time. This woman has no intention of controlling the dog, as she does not believe it is a threat to anyone. hmm.

What can I do? I feel like moving house!

beautifulgirls Fri 12-Nov-10 20:47:46

I would report every little incident to the police until they get fed up with you. Hopefully the next time you talk to them someone a little more helpful will be on duty and they may see the problem you have here with what sounds like an out of control, potentially dangerous dog. I would also encourage the neighbours to report any incidents to the police too if you can. If they have several reports they are less likely to ignore the problem. Hopefully then they can go and speak to the owner and insist that a proper control is kept on the dog and if needs be that it is muzzled in public places for safety.

You might also try the RSPCA - could be hit and miss if they actually do anything depending who you get on the end of the phone and responding to the report though but at least worth a go.

sosickofthesoundofscreaming Fri 12-Nov-10 21:30:24

thanks beautifulgirls.

I feel like a dreadful person to keep involving the police, as the woman in question is fairly elderly and in ill health. However, it is good to hear someone else say that it is the right thing to do. Much as I appreciate that a lot of her failings are a result of an illness (albeit a socially unacceptable one) I think I really need to put my children's safety first.

I just wish we could persuade her to re-home the dog. It is not like it is a treasured pet that she has had for ages - essentially the people that she got it from pulled a fast one on her.

scurryfunge Fri 12-Nov-10 21:39:45

I would involve a local dog charity (not RSPCA)who may well persuade her to give up the dog.

If the dog is out of control, then it needs reporting to the police also.

flyingzebra Fri 12-Nov-10 21:43:05

I don't know the answer in terms of legality but you are absolutely right to report this and see it through to whatever conclusion it is that makes life safer for all of you.

I say that as a dog lover and dog owner - it sickens me to see loose dogs blatantly out of control and terrorising other people.

sosickofthesoundofscreaming Fri 12-Nov-10 21:59:01

I think (but am not sure) that the RSPCA have visited her on previous occasions. Nothing came of it because on the face of it her animals are well cared for. Neighbours more often than not help out when things get really bad, so they are always fed and watered.

It is the moments of inattention that scare me, like today when the dog is just left to run loose. You can't show those to an RSPCA inspector.

The owner is also a very accomplished liar when sober, and adamant that she will not be persuaded to do anything that she doesn't want to.

Thank you all for your help smile. It makes me feel much better having people tell me that I'm not over-reacting.

minimu1 Sat 13-Nov-10 09:22:28

You are not over-reacting. It is not fair on you, the neigbours or the dog. A collie will chase and nip it is what they are breed to do when herding the sheep but obviously this is not appropriate behaviour for this situation! All collie owners know that they have a very special dog that needs to be directed and kept busy in the acceptable way for all concerned.

The collie needs to have its energy directed into more appropriate behaviours but still allowing it to be a collie. So this home from the description you have given is not suitable. I would be very careful as things will probably get worse not better if the dogs energy is not directed correctly. Does your council have a dog warden as they may be able to help educate the lady.

It does sound however as if the dog is listening to you and he will soon learn to stay away from you but onviously not your dc if you are not with them. Do take great care I would not let my DC out if unsupervised if there is a chance the dog may be out sad

sosickofthesoundofscreaming Sat 13-Nov-10 13:09:02

I think you have it in a nutshell, minimu. Though I am not a fan of taking people's pets away, in this case I really think the dog needs re-homing. If it stays with her the most likely outcome is another bite followed by more serious court action - and ultimately a destruction order I presume sad. In an appropriate home its behaviour could be managed, perhaps.

I suppose it actually is a good sign that the dog listens to me - I hadn't really thought about that. Both from a 'keeping my kids safe' point of view, but also as a positive sign that it is biddable and likely possible to train and control in the right hands.

This morning her chickens were still shut in , and her newspaper left poking out of her letterbox at 12:00. Her direct nextdoor neighbours are convinced she is drinking again, and have gone to investigate her state. sad sad.

It is not a good situation, and the sooner it is resolved the better. In the meantime, my little girl and boy won't be more than a few feet away from where I can scoop them up to safety, however inconvenient it proves to achieve.

daimbardiva Wed 17-Nov-10 15:28:29

I hate to hear of this sort of thing, and I totally appreciate your concern. I'd be the same - and I say that as the owner of a dog (a rescue) who can not be trusted with strangers. I am always so very careful that he's under control at all times in public and never poses a threat, or even scares anyone. This woman is really letting the dog down by not controlling it - I'm surprised the police didn't take the bite more seriously, and it's really worrying that she played down the incident with your little girl too.

I think you are doing all you can at the moment, unfortunately confused

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