Dog lover Malcolm Dixon is calling on people to keep a closer eye on their pets and report any attacks.
The Ellerslie resident wishes he’d reported the first incident his shetland sheepdog was involved in five years ago, when it was attacked by another dog in Remuera’s Waiatarua Reserve.
Since then, 14-year-old Laddie has been the victim of two other attacks in the same Auckland City Council off-leash reserve.
In all three cases, other dogs have spotted the elderly dog and struck at him. Laddie, a medium-sized dog with a passive nature, has been startled and hurt but never seriously injured. The most recent attack, one night in January, left Laddie limping, his body twisted and "with a crazy look in his eyes". Mr Dixon was walking slightly ahead of Laddie when he heard a scuffle behind him. He turned around to find what he thinks was a black short-haired labrador attacking his sheepdog.
He swung Laddie’s leash at the attacking dog, causing it to lose its grip and run away.
The dog’s owner approached him, saying "it is an off-leash reserve" and "your dog must be on heat".
If the dog is on heat, there surely wouldn't be an attack!
But Laddie is male and neutered. Which would explain it better than a dog on heat!... if we humans were going to explain this. Who knows what goes on inside a dog's head.
Mr Dixon carried Laddie home and called the council’s animal control services, who immediately sent an officer to take a statement from him and photograph and examine the dog.
"He said it was a shame I hadn’t reported the other ones," Mr Dixon says. "I didn’t think to – people just don’t think to." Although it is an off-leash reserve, dog owners have a responsibility to keep their pets under control at all times.
This is a good article to read about Dog Park Etiquette
Mr Dixon is concerned the reserve will lose its off-leash status if they don’t. Why should it?
Council animal contracts manager Clare Connell says in off-leash dog exercise areas attacks are more commonly attributed to over-exuberant rather than aggressive dogs. Agree, and people don't understand the difference between loud dog talk, and not.
"Most cases of a dog being aggressive to other dogs are dogs coming out of their property to attack a dog being walked past," she says.
Ms Connell believes under-reporting is an issue. I think under-education is an issue.
"People may mistakenly believe the dog they complain about will be euthanised.
Now I wonder why that would be? I wonder if the media are to blame for this impression.
"In fact, the council seeks the euthanasia of very few dogs for aggression. Unless the owner consents, a dog can only be euthanised for aggression through a court order." Who would have known. Every dog attack means a dog's death when I read it in the news.
She suggests dog owners get as many details as possible if their dog is attacked, while keeping in mind that people can become aggressive. If someone was going to call a "loud dog dispute" an 'attack' when in fact all is it is lots and lots of barking, growling and nothing more,... then yes, people would get a bit upset.
A dog, like a child, is a measure of a person's abilities of being a good parent or dog owner. So attacking a person's dog can be quite personal.
"They should note the dog’s colour, breed, colour of any collar, if the person has referred to the dog by name, if it is male or female. "If the owner is co-operative, the complainant should ask to see the dog’s registration tag and note down the number." You expect someone to be cooperative about this?! Especially when they think that they'll get a dog officer on their door step? Hum... and a $300 fine or whatever one might think...
Ms Connell says you should also record details about the dog owner and a description of their vehicle and its registration number.
The most recent attack on Laddie is being investigated.
• There were 110 dog attacks on dogs and 148 dog attacks on people last year in the Auckland City Council region.
Of course, like Ian Dunbar said... we have to measure the severity of the attacks. No point giving a number when 145 of those 'dog attacks' were actually "a dispute".
I'm not saying that this man shouldn't complain about this, but what I AM saying is that the more people complain about other people's dog in an off leash park, then more people will NOT walk their dog to the park, therefore less walks, more boredom, more problems.
I do understand that dog parks are a place that some dog owners bring their aggressive dogs to (I've been told about one such incident here in Christchurch) and those people need educating!!
I mean... hello ??!
I'll say it again... this is a good article to read about Dog Park Etiquette
The very first thing a dog park should get rid of are benches. The more people that are allowed to sit while their dog is 'playing', the less they watch their dog.. And this means that the prevention of overly excited dog becoming too excited, and starting a real dispute can't be curtailed. In New York City, cellphones are the next thing to ban in dog parks. People are busy on their phones not watching their dog.
Of course, educating people when their dog is stressed, and not having fun would be another good topic to give. Dogs give out signs over and over again to their owners, and the owners just ignore them because they can't read 'dog'. A shame really.