Re: Dog attack
Date: May 08, 2014 12:57AM
There are several ways to handle this loose dog attack problem.
First way is to file an aggressive dog complaint against the dog owner. I hope you know who owns the aggressive dog. To the extent that you photographed or otherwise documented injuries (maybe vet bills) to your dog, that may help. If you can get the person whose dog was killed by the aggressive dog to file a complaint as well that would greatly help your case.
(Indeed, I'm not sure, but I think that an aggressive dog complaint might require that the charged dog have, illegally off-leash, bit a person or killed another person's dog or cat.)
Procedure is that you call Animal Control. They investigate and then you (and the owner of the dead dog) would need to go to Fairfax Court and file a sworn complaint or sworn complaints with the magistrate. Then the deputy serves papers on dog owner. Then, you and your witnesses (the more, the better) show up on the court date as does the dog owner.
The court may fine the dog owner and could issue orders to the dog owner (such as "dog can't leave your property without muzzle") or might order Animal Control to seize and destroy the aggressive dog.
The second way is a "dog at large" complaint against the dog owner. The procedure is basically the same as with the aggressive dog complaint, but you don't need an attack by the illegally loose dog, just that he is running loose. Judge can fine the dog owner (up to $200 or $250, I can't remember) for each time the dog was loose.
Apart from any civil suit to recover vet bills by you or civil suit by the owner of the dog that was killed by the aggressive dog, any court proceeding is a criminal prosecution against the dog owner. It will likely be a swearing contest. The irresponsible dog owner will likely lie, so again, the more witnesses you can get the better. Documented injuries to your dog may help even if you don't have enough evidence or facts for an aggressive dog complaint.
Third way, which can and should be combined with the first way or second way is self-help. Be able to defend your dog (and niece and nephew) as well as obtain evidence of future times that the bad dog is loose.
A walking stick can be used to fend off loose dogs. You can use it to block the path of dogs coming after your dog. In extreme situations, the stick could be used like a baseball bat to clobber an illegally-off-leash dog that is seriously attacking. When legally justified, pepper spray * (about $10 to $20 online) or Mace Pepper Gel *(more like $30, but may work better in a breeze as pepper spray could blow back in your face) can be sprayed on the attacking dog’s nose, mouth and eyes.
Record a video of the loose dog to show Animal Control and the court magistrate. Use your cell phone or get a mini-DVR such as the Sony Bloggie (about $130 online). It helps to turn on the device at the danger points in your walk . If you get a walking stick that serves as a camera monopod, you can screw in your mini-DVR on top. Now it’s easy to record your own dog walking and, if the other dog charges off-leash, you’ve got video proof.
*No real guarantee that pepper spray or pepper gel will stop an attacking dog, which is why Fairfax County Police will shoot, rather than pepper spray, a dangerous dog coming towards an officer off-leash.
Still, pepper spray seemed to work the one time that I had to use it on one of two dogs attacking as a team a couple years back. I sprayed the closest illegally-off-leash attacking dog when he was deep growling and moving towards me from about 8 feet. That dog had run about 200 feet at high speed towards me barking and snarling. His brother attacking dog, also off-leash, had run about the same distance and was moving towards me and my dog from the opposite direction as the closest attacker. The pepper spray turned back the lead attack dog, whereas the follower attack dog never got within pepper spray range. Dogs’ owners were not happy after I showed Animal Control the video of the attack. Law-breakers hate it when it’s on video.
Although I’m pro-Second Amendment, I won’t get into numerous reasons why a civilian shooting an aggressive dog in Fairfax County is not normally advisable.