Thursday, August 27, 2015

Red Car Canyon: Tuesday Morning Pit Bull Attacks

Photo: Red Car Canyon Neighbor, August 25, 2015.  Tuesday morning, my on-leash dog was attacked by 2 Pit Bulls that escaped their yard on Riverside Place.

In recent weeks I've heard of several unprovoked dog on dog attacks on both the Red Car Property and on adjacent streets.  None involved the same dogs.  Not all involved Pit Bulls.  All incidents involved at least one off-leash dog attacking an on-leash dog.  If your dog is off-leash - you are in violation of the law.

I only write this today because so many neighbors have asked me to do so.  I usually hear stories from second or third parties, well after the fact.  So I haven't been able to use them.  Since I've already lost the better part of 2 days dealing with this issue and my dog's injuries, I hope dog owners faced with an attack by any kind of dog will learn to stay calm and take specific actions if they find themselves in a similar situation.

Pay Attention
Tuesday morning, I was walking alone, southbound through the canyon, with my dog on a short leash at my side, when I saw 2 big pit bulls about 75' ahead of me, off-leash and unattended, running onto the property from Riverside Place. They both looked over their shoulders at my dog.  They immediately changed direction and charged at my dog. 

Stay Calm, Be The Alpha, Shout For Help
I did what usually stops an aggressive dog in its tracks.  Without hesitating, I stepped in front of my dog, made myself big, putting my fists on my hips, shouting in a low voice "NO! BAD DOG! NO!"  (Really, it usually works.)  Clearly, these bad dogs felt no remorse and went right around me, knocking my dog to the ground, first biting at his neck, then biting at his legs.  While trying to push the larger, more aggressive Pit Bull with my legs to the side and pull back on its collar, I was shouting for help, "I'm in the canyon, somebody please help me!"

I ended up on the ground in a jumble of all 3 dogs.  I wasn't panicking, but starting to think that no one could hear me and I'm alone and these 2 dogs were going to either break my dog's legs and/or kill him and I'm not strong enough to fight them off.  All the literature says hitting a Pit Bull in the head will only make it more angry - so its a good thing I didn't try that.  

Pack Behavior
With 2 attacking dogs, it only complicated matters, since they were defending each other when my dog attempted to fight back.  

Think Fast, Don't Run
There were no sticks nearby to use as a barrier.  I kept getting knocked off my feet by the fight. There was nothing to jump on top of to get to higher ground.  I knew running was the wrong thing to do, because that would only incite the chase instinct.  

Look For A Big Stick
After what seemed like an eternity, I was about to call 911 in vain, but dropped my phone.  Just then, 3 neighbors from Lake View and 1 from Riverside Place who heard me yelling for help, came running from their backyards.  They helped distract and separate the dogs.  One of the Lake View Neighbors picked up a long stick or pole and was using it to get between one of the dogs and me & my dog (one of the recommended techniques).

2nd Dog Attacked
Apparently the dogs had escaped their gate.  No sooner had the owner arrived when one of the dogs broke free, raced down the trail and attacked another dog.  Luckily the neighbor with the stick was nearby and helped fend off that attack.
Photo: Diane Edwardson, August 25, 2015.  Aftermath: If your dog is in a dog fight, as soon as you get  home, check through your dog's fur carefully for puncture wounds.  If he's got any, take him to the vet immediately.  Puncture wounds can be deep and get infected easily if left untreated.

Prepare For Next Time
If you Google "how to break up a dog fight" or "what to do if you're attacked by Pit Bulls," there's actually very little useful advice out there unless you carry a big stick, pepper spray or an air horn and are able to use any of those things properly in a situation where you might be panicking. 

Many neighbors tell me they carry pepper spray.  I think an air horn is more effective because it not only shocks the the dog, but it will get the attention of neighbors.  My dog would not have been so lucky had neighbors not come to my rescue.  Pocket size air horns are the same size as pepper spray and if you point the air horn at your face by accident, only your hearing may be impaired temporarily. 

If you have dogs that are escape artists, take extra precautions to lock gates and secure your fences.  You are responsible for your dog at all times.

Leash = Freedom
Walk your dog on a leash.  All of the dog on dog altercations I hear about on the Red Car Property and on the neighborhood streets occur because one of the dogs is off leash.  The Red Car Property owner's rep has given us permission to walk on the property.  Use it responsibly.  Keep your dog on a leash.  And always pick up after them.

In my dog's world, leash equals freedom.  If he wants to leave the yard, he has to be on a leash.  If you can't walk your dog on a leash, you need to get fit, get some dog training, get a smaller dog or you don't get to walk your own dog.   

Good info on breaking up Pit Bull attacks: Pit Bull Rescue Central

Pit Bull Rescue Central also has a lot of good info if you are considering adopting a Pit Bull.  They are very specific about the not so nice side of the breed and the commitment it takes to be a responsible owner.  

There's always more non-breed specific advice: ASPCA

UPDATE, 9-3-15: Rumor Control.  I was not bitten by the Pit Bulls.  The Pit Bulls showed no interest in me whatsoever.  They only attacked my dog.  That's why I showed so much confidence in attempting to break up the attack. I strongly recommend using the link above to Pit Bull Rescue Central because you do not have time to hesitate in that situation.