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And here’s the reason ………………………………………..

The Animal Control Unit of the Christchurch City Council have decided to classify Bob as a Menacing Dog, after an incident in the local park.
They claimed Bob bit a dog, and there is no denying a dog was bitten. The dog is a Jack Russell cross dog, who lives a few doors away from us.

This might seem really straight forward, however:

1) It was the JRX that attacked my dogs
2) This dog had been challenging my dogs aggressively through his front fence, every time I took the dogs out, for nearly 2 years.
3) Three weeks before the incident, I had reported him to Animal Control but they did not act on my complaint – in fact no-one at Animal Control had even read my email, it seems.
4) No-one saw if it was Bob or Bess who actually bit the JRX – the owner said she had not realised he was bitten until well after she got home.

Bob is a 4 yr old ACD that I have socialised very carefully – I had him neutered and took him to puppy classes. I take him to the dog park often, and the dog beaches around Chch. I have socialised him with every thing I could think of – the cat, the chooks, my extended family’s dogs. He grew up with the grandkids all over him. He is a big silly spud and he generally backs off from challenges from other dogs. He is a bit, well, left-pawed perhaps and likes certain boydogs quite a bit. He doesn’t fight. When we go to the dog park, he likes to play a bit of chasing with the other dogs, enjoys a good sniff and then goes off to follow that interesting track through the tussocks. He will however follow his mother’s lead when I have them out together.

5) For the Hearing, I got a behaviour report from Janice Kirk (a top Christchurch dog trainer). She couldn’t get him to react aggressively, no matter what she tried or which dogs she introduced him to, either on-lead or off.

Bess on the other hand is an 11 year old bitch, who has raised 4 litters of pups. She doesn’t put up with smart-mouthed young dogs challenging her in the very park she grew up in. My money has always been on her.

I do accept some responsibility for this dog’s injuries – my dogs were off lead, but then so was the JRX – so a fine for having my dogs off lead would have been fair, and I would have happily paid the vet bills if I had been asked. The owners never approached me – the first I knew that the JRX had been bitten was when the dog ranger told me. But to make this a Menacing Dog issue and then choose Bob ….. at very least they could have picked on the dog that most likely did the biting!
But Animal Control have decided it was Bob. The outcome of the Appeal Hearing felt like a foregone conclusion. Their Deliberations did not appear to take into account the failure of the Animal Control team to investigate my complaint, which might have prevented the incident from happening in the first place, or that this incident was initiated by and was very specific to this particular dog. This dog who had been antagonising my dogs, for months and months! I suspect the Hearings Panel, chaired by the very blonde Sue Wells, didn’t even read my submissions at all – I had letters of support from our vet and one from a neighbour verfying the aggressive nature of the JRX, as well as the report from Janice Kirk – but there was no mention of them at all in their deliberations. And so now, as well as losing my Responsible Dog Owner status and having to pay full fees for both my dogs for the rest of his life, Bob has to wear a muzzle when we are off the property, unless he is crated or secure in the car. This cuts him out from Showing, Obedience, Agility or any other dog sport at all involving reward-training. There can be no more fetching sticks in the river or chasing tennis balls in the park. No more eating grass or sticking his nose down a rabbit-hole or deep into a bit of wool caught in the gorse. He can’t even come out to the car to say goodbye to the grandchildren without being muzzled first. And besides all that he hates it – it makes him irritable and a bit anxious and he is constantly trying to rub it off. It is like torture for him. And even though the Menacing Dog classification is supposedly based on behaviour (which can presumably be altered through training), there is no chance for a re-assessment – he is now a Menacing Dog forever!

The incident:

This all started when the neighbours got a 3 or 5 year old jack Russell cross from the pound 18 months earlier. This dog was left in the front yard, day and night, and no-one seemed to have any control over it at all. He was left there to make all the decisions about all the passers-by and grew increasingly aggressive. After a short time he was barking furiously, up and down the front fence at absolutely everyone who walked past but especially anyone with a dog, and then wouldn’t stop barking for hours. My dogs, predictably, took exception to him and every time we passed (which was pretty well every night – we have to pass, one or way another, no matter which way we walk) the tension would rack up. Bess would start grunting and seriously eye-balling, Bob would start barking in reply, and I’m trying to shut Bob up, break Bess’s iron stare and drag them both down the road, and now every dog in the street is joining in and this little dog is STILL racing up and down the fence barking hysterically ….
And then the owner started taking him to the park and it was obvious this was going to lead to trouble and so finally, reluctantly, I complained to Animal Control. I emailed them, describing the problem and politely suggesting they might ask the owner to keep the dog out of the front yard. But nothing happened, and three weeks later sure enough, one evening we met out in the park. I saw the JRX coming round the trees before any of the dogs saw each other and the owner and her brother tootling along behind, paying no attention whatsoever to their dog. I quickly called my two back to me. They were on their way back, but my call had alerted the JRX and there he was, racing across the park towards us, barking hysterically again. Only this time we were very close, there was no fence and no leads and no chance of stopping my two! There was a bit of a scuffle, but I quickly called Bob off, then stood between Bess and the JRX, who were still trying to have a go at each other, waiting for someone to take control of the JRX. Meanwhile the owner stood screaming, and finally her brother, came in and grabbed him and they took him away. I saw no sign of injury at that time.
Next thing you know we have a dog-ranger visiting saying the JRX had been bitten, and when I explained what had happened, he said Animal Control had had no complaint about him. Even when I produced the email I had sent and they finally admitted they had received it but had not acted on it, they did not take that into account and insisted on classifying Bob as a Menacing Dog. Just Bob, not Bess, although no-one had seen which dog had done the biting.

I still feel cross and angry and frustrated and sad ……..

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