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Thursday, July 03, 2008

It's the Pits

A Dog-Eat-Dog World

The neighborhood has gone to the dogs. Officially. It all started on a sunny morning just days ago...

"I feel pretty good," my beloved Austrian Snickerdoodle, Dagmar, said. "The doctor told me dat valking would help me heal from my surgery. Let's go for a valk up the street." I nodded affably and pulled my boots on. Being a traditionalist, I opted to go for the "right boot on the right foot, left boot on the left foot" method. It just works out best that way. Happily booted, I held my bride's arm and we meandered slowly out the door.

"Vhat a beautiful day!" she said, pausing on our front stoop to look at the flowers. "Oh! Ve have a bloom! How nice!" She looked up the street. "Oh, the neighbors are out with their baby girl. Vhat a cutie she is!" And indeed, the two-year-old girl really is a cutie, all smiles and pigtails. Her grandpa was playing hide-and-seek with the girl in the yard, ducking behind a bush, then poking his head around, "Boo!" The family was sitting on their back steps, watching and chatting. Our other neighbors were sitting in their big blue swimming pool, watching the world go by. I could hear the neighbors to the west talking to their grandchildren, getting ready for a day trip somewhere. A peaceful day. All is right with the world.

Dagmar and I started west, walking slowly up the street, enjoying the sun. As we passed our neighbor's house we heard a commotion. A ruckus. A kerfuffle. The dogs were barking. They bark a lot. I looked over to see what they were yipping at... A man was walking down the sidewalk next to the neighbor's chain-link fence. The pit bull (Katelyn) was barking her fool head off, charging for the man. As I watched, Katelyn stood, snarling at the man, banging against the fence. The second dog, a little pooch named Sandy, ran up to help bark at the man. Katelyn, obviously upset over something, turned on the little Sandy dog, clamped her jaws on Sandy's neck, and started shaking the small dog like a rag toy.

The man who had been walking past stopped and started yelling at the dogs. The neighbors who owned the dogs ran screaming to separate the dogs. I ran to the fence. "Chris, you grab Katelyn," yelled the neighbor. "Get in here and help!"

"Ain't no way I'm grabbing an angry pit bull! Get her collar, I'll get Sandy!" I stood outside the fence by the gate until the neighbor had her pit bull by the collar. The dog finally let go of the little dog. I opened the gate and tried to grab Sandy, but the little dog ran right past me -- into the waiting jaws of the third dog, a rottweiler mix named Pepper-Ann. Pepper grabbed little Sandy dog by the neck and ran a merry chase through the gathered crowd of screaming grandchildren. Sandy's yelps were heart-wrenching! I realized at that point that I was in the fence with an angry pit bull AND an angry rottweiler. Back out the gate ran the hippie. The neighbor grabbed Pepper and managed to pry her jaws off little Sandy.

This all happened in about five seconds. One second the neighborhood was a calm peaceful place, and within five seconds two dogs had savaged a third right in front of us.

I looked at the chain-link fence and thought about all the times the pit bull and rottweiler had gotten out and run free through the neighborhood. I looked over at the two-year-old neighbor girl just across the street. What is there to stop those dogs from savaging that child, other than a battered fence that the dogs have escaped from numerous times...

Little Sandy has a broken leg and various puncture wounds, but the vet says she'll live. The neighbors put Sandy back into the yard with the other two dogs. "Oh, they won't hurt anyone," the neighbor lady keeps saying. "They're harmless. Look at the way they play with my grandbabies." Yeah, I think to myself, but look what they did to Sandy. Harmless.

Two days later I was rehearsing for a gig I have with one of my old bands. I got a call from Dagmar. "Are you on your vay home?" she asked. "Good! Please hurry. Vhen you get here, DON'T GET OUT OF THE CAR! There are two pit bulls running loose." I threw my bass in the trunk and zipped home fast as I could. When I came around the corner I could see flashing lights from the police car parked across the street from my house. I pulled into my driveway. No dogs in sight, but Dagmar was standing in our yard, safe in our fence. I got out of the car and joined her.

"There are two pit bulls running loose," she said as I walked up. "They attacked Jazzy, the neighbor's little dog, and bit de neighbor lady, Linda, on the hand, und now the police are here."

"Oh no. How's Jazz? Is she gonna be okay?"

"She'll probably need to be put down. De two pit bulls both grabbed poor little Jazz and were yanking and pulling on her. One had Jazz's head, the other had her rear. Linda tried to get her puppy away and one of the pit bulls bit her."

I watched as the policeman came backed his way around the corner, slowly making his way to his car, a piece of beef jerky in his hand. One "teenage" pit bull was following him, eyes on the jerky. The officer tempted the pit into the back of the squad car and shut the door. He looked up to see half the neighborhood gathered, watching him. "Anyone seen the other one?" he asked. Someone pointed up the street. The officer headed that direction, beef jerky in hand.

Eventually the animal control officer appeared and took the two pit bulls, and the policeman started taking statements, and the neighborhood returned to normal. Where did the officer find the pit bulls? Both of them were in the neighbor's yard -- right where Grandpa plays with his two-year-old granddaughter every day...

At a quick count, we have around six pit bulls and a couple rottweilers within a block of our house. I do NOT feel safe any more. No matter how often my neighbor lady tells me her pit and rott are harmless pups I still remember how they savaged Sandy, and no matter how often people tell me "it's not the dog's fault, it's the owner's fault" I still think these dogs are trained to attack -- and one neighbor's pet is dead because of that, and I worry about the other neighbor's little girl.

We don't feel safe. We can't go for a walk in our own neighborhood. It's gone to the dogs. I'm getting close to putting up a sign in my yard. "Yes, you have a right to own an attack dog. And I'm gonna shoot it if it comes in my yard."


Tomorrow's rant: People who honk their horns.

4 Comments:

Blogger D A said...

Aren't pit bulls illegal in Iowa?

We have a bigger problem around here. Being, literally, only a few feet from the reservation, where there are no laws governing dog breeding, pit bulls have become a status symbol for the young men. The problem is that the dogs have gotten loose and created packs of wild roaming pit bulls.

I've only seen them once around our neighborhood, but it's enough to make sure my kids know to run as quickly as they can inside when they see a loose dog.

Animal control in this area cosists of homeowner's firearms so there doesn't seem to be any hope of this coming under control any time soon.

1:52 PM  
Blogger SkylersDad said...

Several cities around here have banned Pit Bulls. I agree to some extent it is the owner that is the problem, but when the dog is more than capable of killing, sometimes it takes more than the owner saying its a good dog.

7:16 PM  
Blogger pistols at dawn said...

I do like the idea of people serving as character witnesses for animals, though. "No, he's one of the good ones."

Sadly, I would also follow that officer for the promise of beef jerky.

7:11 PM  
Blogger katrocket said...

hahahaha Pistols - that beef jerky comment is hilarious. I was thinking the exact same thing.

When they passed the anti-pit bull law in my province in 2005, I was against it, because it smacked of dog genocide, and I think the pet owners should be punished, not the dogs. But then again, you don't see many news stories about poodles ripping off the faces of babies.

7:00 AM  

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