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...


Anonymous said...

This post scared the Hell out of me.
I would be terrified for my kids too, it's appalling that nothing can be done until something tragic happens.
You shouldn't have to be fencing the dog out of your garden but what else can you do?
Keep on calling every time you see the dog roaming or can you get other neighbours to lodge a combined complaint?
Can I ask, what a garden fence goes for these days?

Steve said...

Missbehaving: Karen and I got some quotes for refencing the 2 sides of our garden that require it at the end of last year and both were around £1000! It's not cheap these days but we would like it done properly and done to last.

The warden visited the house this morning as planned and rang me - as I expected nobody was at home. Or at least nobody was answering the door. However, there was no sound or sight of the dog too - but that proves nothing. The warden has put a card through the letterbox asking them to call the council, other than that another warden will follow it up next week... thus the dance of negligence and shirking responsibility continues. Karen and I are really worried by this but don't know what else to do.

justme said...

Suggest you try ringing the RSPCA? If the dog is not being cared for, and is distressed they may well get involved, and they are less 'jobsworthy' than local authority employees ( yes, I know, I DON'T mean you!) can be. Also they may put pressure on the authority.
And just for good measure, I should ring the police too. They may be willing to come and talk to the neighbour as well.

Matthew Rudd said...

Have you spoken to the neighbour directly yourself? Assuming they are reasonable people, they may respond, especially if you get a consortium of neighbours whose gardens are being affected and go to talk to them collectively.

The dog warden can only do so much, sadly, without evidence of danger or serious damage. Assuming you feel able to approach the dog, it may be worth your while to secure it on a lead and deliver it personally to the warden or the RSPCA. Let the owner sort it out afterwards.

Keep us informed, Steve. Obviously you know I'm a dog owner and it's your bad luck that it's a potentially dangerous dog that's doing the roaming, as opposed to a googly-eyed retriever or border collie.

Steve said...

Hi Justme: the RSPCA were the first people we thought of ringing when we first saw the dog in our garden, however, after being shunted from pillar to post in their automated answer service we were eventually directed to the local authority dog warden. Fine fellow as he is this service only operated during office hours... anything either side of that has to be directed to the police who's reponse time for this type of incident is dire. It's not a priority unless damage or injury has been caused... so round and round we go.

Matthew: my first reaction was to go round to the house and speak to the owner as soon as I saw the dog, however, I got not answer at all so felt I had no option at that point but to try the authorities. The dog warden has received the same treatment on his return visit today so we're no further forward. The dog warden has told us to try and secure the dog if it ends up in our garden again and call him but to be honest if he can break into our garden so easily I'm not sure how I can keep him there - plus I don't really want to approach the dog at close quarters when I don't know how he'll react. It's a great shame as the dog is not at all responsible for what's happening. However, much as I love dogs myself, I have to put the safety of my children first.


Go to them and tell them that you have rat poison or garden pesticides in your garden(please don't put rat poson or pesticides in your garden)and tell them it isn't safe for their dig to be in there.Luckily my garden is totally enclosed but if I had your problem, that is what I would do.
I hope the problem is resolved soon for the sake of the children.

The Joined up Cook said...

Don't phone.

Don't tell.

Put something in writing to the council outlining your concerns on behalf of your children. Ask them to let you know what action they intend to take. Give them a time scale within which to come back with their response. Get your neighbours to join in.

Phone calls mean little. Once the phone is put down they are forgotten about.

A letter cannot be forgotten. It is a physical thing. It has to be acted upon and is material evidence if something 'major'does happen.

You are far more likely to get response and, I would think, they ill take it far more seriously. The last thing a council wants is for something to go wrong and a mountain of evidence be available to prove it.

Also take photos, or even better, film, of the dog - and mention this in your letter.

Steve said...

Ally, I don't think the owners care enough about the welfare of the dog for that to be an effective deterrent... alas.

AWB: that's not a bad idea. Certainly the filming / photographing idea. I may well do that. As it is at the moment: all is strangely quiet. The warden suspects the dog has already been moved but obviously Karen and I would like confirmation of that before we relax our guard...

Old Cheeser said...

Yes I am VERY disppointed you didn't choose to write about intellectually challenged chavs chafing their corn beef thighs in car parks, Steve (just trying out a bit of alliteration there).

Anyway the dog looks like a nasty blighter. Hope you get it sorted soon - not a pleasant business!

Old Cheeser said...

And belatedly - I liked your "bird" post - what a treat for you - and great to see some pictures of the man himself at long last!!

Anonymous said...

It's awful. I suspect you need to do all these things. YOu need to make a nuisance of yourself so it is easier for people to sort the problem out than to ignore it.
The RSPCA were out like a shot when some mad woman reported me for giving insufficient shelter to my guinea pig (untrue allegation but they didn't know) so it is surprising they would not take action for a distressed and ill cared for dog.
So make a nuisance of yourself, definitely put it in writing and if you can work as a group with other neighbours then do so.
What a horrible situation.
Let us know what happens.

Steve said...

OC: I shall make it my most urgent endeavour to complete a full expose on corn beef thighs chafing at the earliest opportunity. Do you want full frontal photos with that or just a couple of close-up ear shots (wouldn't want to upset the British censors after all)? The dog is not to be messed with - though the photo is one I lifted off the internet the real one oooks incredibly similar...! ;-)

Glad you liked the pics... to be honest it was quite liberating to publish some pics of my ugly mush. I feel like I've broken through some kind of barrier. Yes, folks this is me. You can avoid me now if you want to...!

Gina: I'm going to see what occurs on Monday when the warden makes a return visit but also talk to our neighbours in the meantime. There's at least three of us that are affected by this situation so we can present quite a united front if needs be. And being a fellow local authority officer (like the warden) I can make quite a nuisance of myself if need be... and I'm quite prepared to do so!

The Sagittarian said...

I can loan you a rabbit which has alreayd proven ability in ball-biting... you can either let it loose on the dog or on the authorities!
Seriously tho - you are right, your kids safety is paramount. Maybe you could pretend that your previously burnt sprogs injuries wa sactually as a result of being glared at my said woofer...
Jeez, sorry. No really you need to do all of the aforementioned "swerious" responses.
Or move to New Zealand.

The Sagittarian said...

Mind you, there is a lot to be said for a well aimed bit of lead.....

Steve said...

Amanda, a ball biting bunny might be the perfect back-up plan so hold that thought! As for moving to NZ, such s notion is looking better and better as each month passes...

Owen said...

Steve, this is indeed seriously disturbing, sounds like the start of too many stories that have been in the press over the past few years, mostly from the US about pit bulls. I would second Amanda's motion for an accidentally well aimed shotgun blast... because it sounds like no one else is going to do anything...

Or perhaps, although far be it from me to propose anything unpleasant, I will speak allegorically, through the voice of another... did you ever come across Tom Lehrer in your musical travels ? He did an absolutely lovely piece (which you can find on You Tube) called "Poisoning the Pigeons in the Park"...

The lyrics go :

Spring is here, a-suh-puh-ring is here.
Life is skittles and life is beer.
I think the loveliest time of the year is the spring.
I do, don't you? 'Course you do.
But there's one thing that makes spring complete for me,
And makes ev'ry Sunday a treat for me.

All the world seems in tune
On a spring afternoon,
When we're poisoning pigeons in the park.
Ev'ry Sunday you'll see
My sweetheart and me,
As we poison the pigeons in the park.

When they see us coming, the birdies all try an' hide,
But they still go for peanuts when coated with cyanide.
The sun's shining bright,
Ev'rything seems all right,
When we're poisoning pigeons in the park.


We've gained notoriety,
And caused much anxiety
In the Audubon Society
With our games.
They call it impiety,
And lack of propriety,
And quite a variety
Of unpleasant names.
But it's not against any religion
To want to dispose of a pigeon.

So if Sunday you're free,
Why don't you come with me,
And we'll poison the pigeons in the park.
And maybe we'll do
In a squirrel or two, or a rottweiler
While we're poisoning pigeons in the park.

We'll murder them all amid laughter and merriment.
Except for the few we take home to experiment.
My pulse will be quickenin'
With each drop of strychnine
We feed to a pigeon.
It just takes a smidgen!
To poison a pigeon in the park.

In all sincerity, I hope you can get that beast sorted out, before he sorts any children out...

Steve said...

Thanks Owen, this has raised a smile and erupted a giggle or three... I am even now rummaging around the bathroom and seeing what I've got lying around in my medicine cabinet that could be used to lace a juicy bone...

Hmm. I don't think laxatives would create the desired effect, do you?!

French Fancy... said...

Oh I'm such a dog nut that I feel upset for your family obviously and so so annoyed that nobody has bothered with this dog. People should have to be assessed before they can either have children or be allowed to keep animals.

Steve said...

FF, you'd think some kind of general assessment wouldn't be too hard or to irksome to perform though I'd be the first to complain if the Government started to interfere with people's basic choices... but plainly some people are just not up to looking after another life properly.

The Poet Laura-eate said...

Steve, please phone the RSPCA asap.

I did so for a cat which was being ill-treated and they visited within 48 hours and eventually re-homed the cat, prosecuting the owners.

The RSPCA do not divulge who reported animal neglect (and it sounds like anyone in your street could make the call in any case).

Sounds like the dog is aggressive because it is so unhappy. It may or may not be possible to re-train him but even if they have to destroy him, he has no decent life at the moment.

Suburbia said...

Gosh Steve what a horrible position to be in, it would scare the hell out of me. Would the RSPCA be any more help do you think? Especially as the dog is being neglected? Just a thought.

Suburbia said...

Ooops, just realised others have already said all that.

Steve said...

Laura, Surburbia: the RSPCA were the first people I tried but for some reason the Leamington branch has an endless automated phone answering service which offloads dog problems onto the local dog wardens or the police. I'm going to see what transpires today when the warden returns yet again to the house - the dog was out yet again on Sunday. If nothing occurs I'm going to have a word with all the neighbours - several complaints a day for the next few weeks shouldp push the council into doing something. I may give the RSPCA another go again too - if I can get to speak to someone human!

The Sagittarian said...

You can still get bullets in the UK, right?

skatey katie said...

nothing new to add, steve, hope safety returns to your backyard asap ...whatever that means... probably Act Swiftly, Awesome Pachyderm (movie line) X

Steve said...

Amanda: the police have a ready supply. As do most teenagers.

Thanks Kate: I may paraphrase that line when I chase this up with the dog warden - haven't heard a thing about his return visit to the dog owner yesterday...

English Rider said...

There are non-profit rescue groups specific to each breed. Find Rotty-Rescue. They are more likely to swoop in and do something, plus the dog may have a humane future ahead with such a group.
I am involved with Collie Rescue, as that's my special breed. I have, on occasion, driven 150 miles to help a collie. Helping him might help you too, especially if he ends up 150 miles away!
I agree totally with your worry about your family. Stay safe.

Steve said...

That's a great suggestion, English Rider... I shall do some online and see what I can find out. Thank you!

English Rider said...

Afterthought: Buy a can of pepper spray, just in case, so you have an immediate solution if you or your kids are threatened.

Steve said...

Thank you once again, English Rider, excellent suggestion. Have rung Rottweiler Rescue but haven't got through to anybody yet - will keep trying though!

Matthew Rudd said...

The rescue group idea is excellent. We're involved with Basset Hound Welfare and the work they do in rehoming dogs of our preferred breed is exceptional.

Good luck Steve.

Anonymous said...

ummmm...we have exactly the same problem, and also a lack of help!
luckily we are now in talks with the neighbours to discuss some sort of compromise about fencing!even though it looks like we will haveto contribute to the cost. I have worried like mad for the safety of my chiild for well over 2 yrs now, enough's enough!
I dont think people should keep dogs if they cant look after them and keep them contained and content, so they are not bored enough to escape!

Steve said...

Anonymous: sorry to hear you're having similar problems. Our situation seems to have resolved itself - although we've already commissioned someone to erect a 6ft fence for us. The neighbours with the dog have moves elsewhere. I believe the dog has been taken in by the RSPCA and they're going to try and find a new home for him. Hope you manage to get things resolved. Ultimately a secure fence is the only way to keep you and your kids safe.