TIMARU- Janelle Stevens wants justice for Yogi. Yogi is a four-year-old neutered german shepherd classified by the Timaru District Council as dangerous.
He has bitten two people – a schoolboy who did not complain and, unwisely, a council dog control officer, Karen McMillan.
But owner Stevens has objected to the dangerous classification, taking her case to a council hearings committee, which can uphold or rescind the classification. Stevens would prefer the latter.
She and fiance Carl Brickle gave evidence before the panel of Ray Bennett, Jane Coughlan and Peter Field. On August 18, Brickle – not the victim – called the council to say Stevens's dog had broken loose while being taken to the back yard. Yogi bit a boy on the leg, causing a bloodless puncture wound. That led to dog control officer McMillan calling at Stevens's house. McMillan crouched to try to calm Yogi, which was barking aggressively.
"I slowly stood up and made a fist to approach the dog from underneath, as per our instructions from the Timaru District Council dogsafe programme," McMillan said.
As she approached, Yogi had its paws on top of a fence and lunged. I don't understand how you can approach from underneath while standing up? Am I missing something here?
"I quickly removed my arm, but the dog was able to make contact with its teeth," McMillan said. She covered the wound with a handkerchief as Brickle calmed the dog. Sheese, don't they teach in the DogSafe Programme never to try to pat a dog over the fence?
Stevens apologised for the incident. She said this week that she was prepared to do the "hard yards" to train Yogi. She claimed she had told the dog officer it would not be advisable to pat Yogi over the fence as he had become territorial."Despite my advice to your staff member, she put her hand over the fence to pat the dog and was consequently bitten," Stevens said. That's exactly my thought as well. if you tell someone NOT to do something, and they do it, who's at fault?
Stevens brought a dog-training book with her and said she – and Yogi – were learning from it. She was also prepared to go to a dog whisperer. Why do people call dog trainers 'dog whisperers'? I really get annoyed with this term!
Stevens said the bite on the boy was reported to the council as she thought it was the right thing to do, and that the council might be able to give her training advice. Never ever ask council for advice about dogs! That's my first advice. Go to the Training Section on doglinks!
It told her only to muzzle Yogi.
Stevens said that before the bite on the boy, cars in the area had been tampered with, there had been a street fight, children had taunted the dog, and there had been a prowler at her home.
Those incidents upset Yogi, she said. Very difficult to train a dog NOT to be protective when those sorts of human activities are going around. Maybe this German Shepard has a police dog DNA (chuckle)
She said she did all she could to help the bitten boy and wanted to work with Yogi to change his behaviour. She had read about dogs on "death row who had been turned around". Yogi now slept in a kennel, was fed last to show him he was not the leader in the house, and was exercised regularly. "I'm a good person. I'm a responsible dog owner," Stevens said. You couldn't say the same thing about the dog catcher!
The council environmental health manager, (what a title?!? What the hell does env't health manager mean exactly??)
David Vince, said the case was rare in that Stevens, in effect, reported her own dog, and she was a responsible person. But the fact remained that Yogi had bitten twice. Life is NOT black and white, and nor are dogs. I hate their attitude about dogs, and about 'well, it's bitten twice' when in actually fact, it didn't bite, it was protective. What the hell do you expect when a dog is feeling a bit fearful!? when some bozo is reaching over the fence? I'd sue the dog pound officer for being dumb!
A decision on Yogi's fate is expected in the next few days.