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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

DOGS UNLEASHED

Dog ownership is hard.  Much harder than I ever imagined it would be.  Before I rescued Mindy, it seemed to me that the requirements of owning a dog were easy enough: pet them, feed them, clean them, unconditionally love them and walk them. Simply hook the dog up on a leash and go.  How quickly I found out that "easy enough" was all just an illusion in my sometimes too idyllic head.  Anybody who has read my book or blog knows that walking Mindy has always been my biggest challenge.  In all fairness, our walking problems aren't always caused by Mindy.  Which is why it's unfortunate that I have to write this blog entry about one of my worst fears– being the victim of a dog attack.

Several weeks ago, I was walking a muzzled up Mindy because of a particularly rough walk the night before. It wasn’t Mindy’s fault, but it was her actions that led to being muzzled. Basically, a young girl walking a small dog did not use common sense which raised Mindy's anxiety levels to Defcon 1. The end result was she nipped me in the leg AGAIN leaving another black bruise. So the next night I blew the dust off the muzzle and decided to give it another try.

Mindy hated the muzzle, but our walk was uneventful until I was within a few yards of my home. That is when I saw two dogs running loose – a big one and a small one. It took me a second to register that they were my across-the-street neighbor’s dogs and that his gate was wide open. The small dog started roaming around the neighbor’s yards, but the big dog was standing by the curb staring us down. He looked more excited than aggressive, but with Mindy's aggression I knew that could change very quickly. I started to cross the street to avoid him, but I never made it. He ran into the street and ambushed Mindy. Even though she was muzzled, Mindy was growling and the other dog started growling and a fight ensued. I could not get the dog away from her. At one point Mindy’s leash came unclipped and I was desperately holding on to her so she wouldn’t take off chasing the dog. There was a small group of neighbors looking on, but nobody tried to help me. I even yelled for help, but they just stood there gawking and not saying a word.

Thank God once again for the Wise family!  They saw what was going on and didn't hesitate to help.  Zac came running down first and kicked the dog off Mindy. Mark realized that something was going on when he saw Zac take off running and he ran down too. He hooked the leash back up to secure Mindy.  I was shaken up and very emotional to the point that I couldn’t speak. It was such a scene. Mark kept asking if I had been bit and I could only shake my head and barely say “no”. He went to the neighbor’s house to let him know that his gate was open and his dogs were out. I turned to look at the onlookers when one lady apologized saying she was too afraid of dogs to help.  After this incident, I bought pepper spray for protection hoping to never have to use it.

Fast forward to last week….

Wednesday, July 11th was the first day of our “staycation” and we had plans for a day trip to Catalina Island.  My husband Gregg took Mindy for an early morning walk while I was getting ready to leave.  On the next block over from our street, they were attacked by a very large Pit Bull/Great Dane mix.  It latched onto Mindy and Gregg fell to the ground. He was kicking at the dog when the owner and her son came running to help. Mindy had four punctures and alot of pain in her rib area. The vet determined she had a bruised rib, and two days later a purplish/red contusion did appear.  Gregg’s thumb had multiple lacerations from the keys that were in his hand.  Attached to the key ring was the pepper spray that I bought for protection. He couldn’t react quickly enough to use it.

At 6:30 a.m. I called and reported the attack to animal control and I was getting very upset as the morning went on because it was taking so long for somebody to come out.  What I didn’t know was this dog has been on their radar for quite some time and after they received my report they were preparing to seize the dog. We were informed that this dog had a track record with three prior attacks on two dogs (one fatality) and one human.  Mindy was attack #4.  A seizure warrant was obtained and the dog was impounded that afternoon.  Without going into all of the details because it would make this blog entry way too long, all I can say was July 11th felt like the day that would never end.

A hearing is pending to decide the dog’s fate. We have been advised that there is a possibility that the owner can get the dog back if she agrees to comply with a list of care and conditions. This is incomprehensible to me and it makes me very angry.  The owner of this dog has not accepted responsibility for her dog’s actions or she wouldn’t continually allow it to be unleashed in an open garage as was the case in the last two attacks. People with this much blatant disregard for the safety of others should lose their rights to own a dog.  Period.  End of story!

Mindy's injuries are healing and mentally she is doing better than I expected.  I was very worried about how this would affect her emotional behavior, especially her anxiety. Luckily the experience has not caused a detectable setback.  Gregg’s thumb is healing very slowly causing him to miss a week of work. I thank our lucky stars that the injuries they suffered were not as bad as they could have been.
 
Dog walking may never be an easy task for me, but now Gregg and I feel like we have to carry a small arsenal just to protect ourselves and Mindy in our own neighborhood.  We don’t EVER want to be caught off guard again.

Until next time....let's hope for happier tails!
Dawn

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