Dicromantispa interrupta

Dicromantispa interrupta

Friday, April 26, 2013

Dangerous Dog Relief

I have had run-ins with dangerous dogs twice in the last year, and am so pleased with the results that I feel compelled to spread the word. If any of you are threatened by a neighbor’s dangerous dog, you do not have to stand meekly by and let your neighbor’s dog control any part of your life. There is a quick, cheap, legal, humane remedy, so read on…

Last summer at my North Carolina home, my neighbor’s Rottweiler threatened me on three occasions. The dog was a large unneutered male about two years old, just coming into its prime. Fortunately, it was a little unsure of itself like a human teenager, so it never bit me. But the owner’s failure to maintain control over the dog, resulting in a serious threat to my life and limb, caused me to call the county animal control department. An officer came out the next day to investigate, after which the Rottweiler was given “dangerous dog” status. The dog disappeared a day or so later and has not been seen since. Problem solved.

Then a couple of weeks ago, in Florida, while walking on the commons to the laundromat, I was attacked by an unneutered juvenile male pit bull dog. When the owner came to the door, the first thing out of his mouth was, “I can’t keep him in the fence!” I phoned the county animal control agency, and the officer came out a day or two later and agreed to designate the animal a dangerous dog. He explained the meaning of the dangerous dog designation to the owner, and the next day the pit bull and its noisy companion small dog were gone. I am so glad that noisy dog and that dangerous dog are gone.

Although dangerous dog statute wording varies from community to community, in general they have all or most of the following (and more) violations and penalties. A dog can be designated a dangerous dog after only a first threat or mild bite. In my cases, both were threats, neither involved bites. An officially-designated dangerous dog is required to (a) be licensed and vaccinated, (b) be properly confined so that it is almost impossible to escape, (c) have permanent identification such as a microchip, (d) be surgically sterilized, and (e) the property housing the dangerous dog must be identified by signs stating “Warning: Dangerous Dog.” BTW, item (b) includes the dog wearing a muzzle whenever it is taken off-property for a walk. Coming into compliance with a dangerous dog designation can cost the owner several hundred dollars, although it is not considered a penalty fine. Follow-on violations resulting in additional penalties can include huge payment for actual damages (i.e., medical), civil fines of up to $500 (big deal), and jail for up to five years.

The important thing to remember is that the dog does not have to bite anyone; it merely has to threaten to do so and then get reported in order for serious consequences to befall the dog and its owner. Those consequences are so serious and expensive that at least two fellows I know of have gotten rid of their dangerous dogs. So, for those of you who eschew owning a large dog, especially a large, unneutered male, take heed, your relief is at hand. Call your county animal control department whenever a neighbor’s dog threatens anyone, regardless of whether it is on its owner’s property or elsewhere. Both of my neighborhoods are quieter and less dangerous now as a result of these wonderful DD laws.


  1. Great information that I wish I'd had at our previous home. Our former neighbors let their chow mix dogs run loose and the dogs would frequently snarl and snap at us in our own driveway when we came out to get the paper or put out the trash. We reported them to animal control but were told that they had to see the dogs out and misbehaving to do anything about it. I am certain that if these neighbors had been faced with expensive compliance to the "Dangerous Dog" statute, they would have gotten rid of the dogs. (Although they probably would have shot them or just dumped them outside of the city limits.)

  2. Thanks for your support. I dealt with a fair number of dangerous dogs over the years while working in the woodsy edge of Jacksonville's Westside, mostly in rural neighborhoods having a lot of big dogs. Even if there had been dangerous dog laws then, my job and schedule would have kept me from reporting them. I relied on my machete and ability to quickly climb trees.

    Going after all dogs that bite is impractical but the old way of doing nothing at all about bites has become unacceptable. The current focus on dangerous dogs seems to be a workable compromise.

  3. You’ve been attacked by dogs twice last year? That’s really traumatic! Good thing there’s an animal control nearby that solved this issue at once. In my opinion, filing for legal action is an advantage for the victim, especially when the legal representative is a veteran in the field and has a great background in winning several cases.
    Cheryl @ CWCLawFirm.com

  4. Cheryl, I continue to ask around and continually find that everyone I meet has been bitten by a dog at least once in their lives, and threatened numerous times more. This is stupid. We have tolerated bad dog behavior for so long and for so many reasons that it may be quite a while longer before it sinks in to society that this is wrong. However, I believe that pit bull breeds are bringing us to a "tipping point," as indicated by our relatively new, almost-no-nonsense DD laws. But DD laws should recognize that pit bull breeds are significantly different from historical breeds in terms of behavior and jaw musculature, that they are unpredictable, and that they occasionally savage their human families suddenly and without warning. If owners paid the same penalties for their dogs' crimes as if the owners perpetrated the crimes themselves, pit bull (and other dangerous breeds) populations would drop precipitously. Dog ownership and DD laws should also recognize that people who own dangerous dogs are either naive or emotionally angry, or both.

    I encourage everyone to seek justice beyond the usually toothless dog bite penalties. Unfortch, most of the news reports I have read of these incidents involve owners that can only be described as "low-life," and it is doubtful whether many of them have the money to pay appropriate punitive damages or have insurance that would do so. Large dogs are beasts that this ethologically-oriented wildlife biologist compares to hyenas and cougars. Why would anyone with knowledge aforethought allow dangerous beasts to play with their loved ones? Why would society allow an angry man to own a breed known to maim or kill family members? We don't allow citizens to keep rattlesnakes and tigers except under proper restraint and permits, so why do we not require the same for canid beasts?