Friday, May 08, 2009
Apologies for those of you expecting an exposé on spontaneous group-based car parking activities but this post is about dogging of the canine variety.
The house two doors up from us has a rottweiler. It’s a beautiful animal. Sadly it’s not being well looked after and hasn’t to my knowledge been properly trained. It’s left outside most days and most nights, is fed irregularly and is dangerously neglected. It frequently escapes over the fence and then rampages through as many gardens as it can gain access to... which given its size and brute strength is most of them along our street.
Wednesday evening and again yesterday morning the animal ended up in our garden.
Now I’m not afraid of dogs. I’d even go as far as to say they are my favoured pet of choice. I’d happily approach most dogs and feel confident about doing so.
Not this dog. It roamed around our garden spoiling for a confrontation. Tail between its legs, it was agitated and clearly highly strung. I was glad to be inside with the kids safely in bed. After a few minutes of pacing up and down it forced its way through the hedge at the top of our garden and disappeared into someone else’s garden.
Obviously Karen and I are terrified for our children. Tom especially loves playing in the garden and at 18 months old loves nothing better than toddling about and investigating the world around him. Our immediate neighbours have two older boys and a 9 month old baby who they like to sit with in their garden. They too are just as scared.
Because this is not the first time this has happened. It’s happened numerous times before.
The dog has caused damage to fences in its passion to escape and has trashed the garden toys belonging to our neighbours. It is only a matter of time before it encounters a child playing in a garden.
I’m determined not to let that happen.
I rang the dog warden and as soon as I gave the address of the dog owner they admitted this address was already known to them. People have complained in the past. This is both comforting and worrying. Comforting because we are plainly not alone in our concern but worrying that this has been going on for some time and yet nothing concrete has been done to prevent it reoccurring.
The dog warden paid the household in question a visit yesterday and was fobbed off – the owner’s had split up; the husband was “somewhere unknown” and the wife was in Coventry for the week and would be returning Friday. In the meantime the dog was being cared for by a family friend.
This is utter rubbish. The wife has been seen in the house every day this week.
The dog warden spoke to me and though he said he’d do all he could to help he gave the impression that he wasn’t very hopeful. The owners have received warning letters in the past but have ignored them. And the local authority (for which we both work) was, in his opinion, reluctant to take stronger action.
Until something major happens.
He didn’t actually say this but the inference was simple to make.
Again I’m determined not to let that happen. It’s a beautiful dog but I have a beautiful 18 month old son and I’d prefer to keep him that way.
Karen and I are planning to have a new fence put around our garden – it’s something we’ve been planning to do for months now, mostly for privacy but now the onus is on security – but right now we just can’t afford to do it. The money isn’t there. It’s galling to think our children’s safety is dependent on our financial elasticity but that’s the reality.
The warden was sympathetic. It’s not up to us to keep the dog out. It’s up to the dog owner to keep the dog in.
Legally that’s fine and dandy but it’s painfully obvious to me that the dog’s owners just don’t give a mad Chihuahua’s arse for the law and my beloved local authority is content to lie like a sleeping dog...
So. No real resolution. The warden is returning to the house today and is going to let me know the outcome. I expect it’ll be nothing more than a slapped wrist but he may yet prove me wrong. In the meantime Karen and I have to either deny our kids the right to play in their own garden or watch them like a hawk ready to intervene should an unpredictable animal more than twice their size come rampaging through the garden fence...