Monday, August 13, 2012

Dog Park Safety: What to do when your dog is attacked

Photo from DogHouseDaycare.com


A recent email from a user of Grant Bark Park brought to our attention the need to talk about park safety!  We all want our local dog parks to be a safe, fun space for our dogs and ourselves, but what do you do when the worst happens and another dog attacks you or your dog?

The Short Answer:
Call the police.

According to the Chicago Park District website, all owners are legally responsible for their dogs and any injuries caused by their dogs.  If your dog is bitten or attacked, exchange information with the owner of the other dog.  Most owners in good faith will offer to pay for your vet bills.  If the other owner is unwilling to speak with you, call the police and report the incident.

The Long Answer - From the South Loop Dog PAC President:
"Unfortunately, there are no procedures in place for situations like this. There is a Chicago Park District 'rule' about 'dogs that have shown dangerous behavior', but there is no mechanism for enforcing it - the CPD is not going to police the parks, the SLDogPAC is in no position to police the park, and in the end it's going to be up to the parties involved to negotiate how to handle it amongst themselves. 

This comes up more frequently than we would like in Chicago dog parks - we hear it from our colleagues across the city - and we're trying to come up with a way to at least try to improve the information provided to dog park users and clueless owners.  This is a long term project we've been trying to get off the ground - this incident, and others, is giving the effort impetus."
Things to Look For - From PetBahaviorHelp.com 

Understand what to do when corrections, squabbles and fights happen
 Sudden, quick disagreements with lots of noise that end in a matter of seconds are normal and it is probably safe to allow the dogs to remain in the park if neither shows any inclination to continue the argument.
 Interrupt any situation that seems to be escalating.
- Use your voice in a calm, commanding way to stop the fight.  Screaming simply increases the
arousal of the dogs involved.
- Do NOT stick your hands into the middle of a dog fight to separate dogs. If physical intervention is
needed, try to grab the back legs of your dog and “wheel-barrow” it until it calms down. Fighting dogs will often strike at anything that moves near their face and human hands are far more delicate than most areas where one dog will bite another.
South Loop Dog Note: We strongly discourage the use of pepper spray for breaking up a dog fight as it could injure your own dog or other dogs around you.
- Do not allow additional dogs to jump into the fight. If you see or hear a squabble between other dogs, get your dog immediately and take it away from the area.
- Do not panic. It will not help the dogs. Remember that as a general rule, the louder the fight, the more bluff and bluster is involved and the less damage. Most dog fights between similar size dogs do not result in serious injury.
 Once a fight occurs, the adrenaline levels of the dogs involved, and many of those who witnessed the fight, will be raised for several hours. It is wise to take these dogs out of the park and exercise them elsewhere to avoid the potential of another fight.

If you have any advice or opinions, please feel free to leave a comment for discussion.


2 comments:

  1. Thanks for the post guys, I'm the owner who wrote you about my dog Louie being attacked. The attacking dog is a known bully at the park and has attacked many other dogs in the recent past. Pete's owner is a white female in her mid to upper 30s who does not seem to be in her right mind. I've spoken to many other dog owners in Grant Bark Park who's pets have been attacked including Duke who is a great dane who is now terrified of Pete.

    I completely disagree with your suggestion to now use Pepper Spray. When enraged, Pete is a vicious and very dangerous animal to dogs and possibly humans. His owner is not in her right mind which makes this duo a danger to everyone around them. Your suggestion to NOT use pepper spray is just encourages passivity. I mean c'mon... maybe they can ask Pete to relax while the police show up?

    Of course I'm going to call 911 next time I see Pete and his owner. But I'm also going to defend myself and my dog should we get taken by surprise. These pepper spray cans have an 8 foot range and I am prepared to use mine if I need to. I hope this doesn't happen of course - but I will not be a victim and I do not support anyone else in being a victim either.

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  2. I no longer am able to bring my 21 lb non-threatening terrier to the dog park after being attacked in two separate dog parks on two ends of the city. Both times the seemingly responsible pet owners ran for the hills after their dog attacked my dog. Is it reasonable for me, a young small figured female, to chase after an individual in order to obtain their information?? Absolutely not. Calling the police is a joke and I think we all know that. Leaving me with an injured dog and expensive vet bills. Minimal regulation of these types of incidents could go a long way! park district volunteers, or really anyone to assist just keeping an eye out and being present for any issue that may arise would provide a lot of comfort.

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