Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Pepper Spray

Unfortunately, two greyhounds adopted from Southeastern Greyhound Adoption were killed by 2 pitbulls right after Christmas. It is very sad news on all accounts because the entire incident was cause by a careless pet sitter who did not adhere to the owner's instructions. She allowed both pitbulls to accompany her off leash as she took out the trash. Pure stupidity. My heart goes out to the greyhound adopter. I hope the happy memories overwhelm the last one very soon.

The pitbulls' owner handled the incident as gracefully as one can in a terrible situation. He compensated the adopter for the emergency vet expenses, adoption fees, repaced her stained car seats, and euthanized his dogs. Very sad that one stupid pet sitter can kill 4 dogs with one stupid decision.

Often when an incident like this happens, people suggest that banning pitbulls is the solution. I strongly disagree. Lots of responsible folks love and own wonderful pitbulls. Banning their favorite breed infringes on the rights of good people and bad people can always disregard the rules or create another powerful breed. Eventually, the breed ban list could be so long, it might be easier to ban all dogs over 50 pounds (including labs, collies, and greyhounds). Don't think it can't happen 10, 20, or 30 years down the road. Government can do scary, unreasonable things.

In my opinion, owners need to be held responsible. "I did not know" is not an acceptable answer if you own a breed that makes headlines. You need to be better than Joe Average dog owner in your ability to socialize, train, and manage dogs if you choose to own powerful breeds. And if you do a bad job of it and your dog does something terrible, you need to be held liable. Get a beagle if don't want that kind of responsibility.
I am finally to the point of my post - pepper spray. Nothing makes my heart drop to my stomach like the sight of a loose dog charging me and my greyhounds. I usually carry a stick for protection, but recently, I grabbed pepper spray instead of my stick for one of Katie's walks. Not 5 minutes into our stroll, a large, red boxer/ridgeback/pitbull type mix breed started to charge. His body language carried all of the red flags. I quickly grabbed my pepper spray, leaned forward as he drew close, and sprayed him in the face. He stopped immediately with a sour look on his face and ran home. The pepper spray worked perfectly. It was so much easier to use than a stick. It allowed me to stop him before he made contact. If there had been 2 dogs, I think it would have been easier to hit both with pepper spray than with a stick. I plan to continue to carry pepper spray and use it as my first line of defense. If you do the same, make sure you replace it periodically as pepper spray does expire.


houndstooth said...

I read that story on Greytalk and my heart sank. I felt so terrible for the greyhound owner. I also feel badly for the pit owner, but in some aspects, it sounds like those particular pits were a time bomb waiting to happen, from what I've read. I've met some really sweet pitties, though, and I hope that people would give them a chance.

gyeong said...

We hear of so many greys being attacked (and sometimes killed) on walks just within our rescue group. Even though we bought some pepper spray, we rarely take the kids for walks since we usually have more than my usual crew. People drop their dogs off at my house expecting us to keep them safe and happy.

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

Yes, the owner specifically told her not to let them off leash (although I can't imagine any "responsible" pet sitter thinking off leash is a good idea with any dog) and to take them out separately since they could be aggressive. It would have been nice if he had socialized them better.

Gyeong, I always tell my sitters... I don't care if they are bored and unhappy... just keep them safe!

Uncontrolled, loose dogs really make me angry. People can just be so irresponsible (even greyhound people). I just wanted to share my pepper spray experience and hope it works for someone else.

Mad Red Hare said...

Oh girl, you hit some really good points there. There can be bad dogs in any breed. Before I was owned by greyhounds, I was a doberman lover. Another misunderstood breed. But the dumb pet sitter. Why is it that people think that dogs should be allowed off lead out of a fenced area? It does sound like the owner did try to make amends. But a day late. I might have to get me some of that pepper spray. My sister carries it while she delivers the mail for that reason.

Hiking Hounds said...

Wow, what a very sad and scary story! I that person is not pet sitting anymore. It makes me think that Zephyr and I were even more lucky when we encountered an off leash pit last year on Christmas Eve right in front of our house no less. I didn't have any pepper spray then. Luckily Zephyr pulled out of his collar and was able to run away. He's still got 2 small scars on his side though. The thing is I know that pit is very nice. I think he was being protective of his Corgi puppy who was also off leash.

I agree pepper spray is great. I once had to use it on a human and it worked perfectly. It turned out that guy was wanted in questioning related to a murder! I haven't been very good about carrying the spray lately, but I think I will start again.

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

That is very scary Hiking Hounds. I'm so glad you had the pepper spray when you needed it. I have a very well connected pet sitter friend. She was looking into whether or not the sitter was affliated with any organizations or recommended lists. I think she ended up just being a college student.... although that reminds me... I was thinking of passing her name around to at least my Georgia contacts.

greytblackdog said...

The mentality of "country folk" is so different. Since I live in a less than urban area, there are a lot of what I call "country dogs" roaming around. Our "neighborhood" is religious about calling animal control thanks to a dog who had mange last year who got their dog sick. But that doesn't stop us being charged unexpectedly from roaming animals. I carry spray. I'm too uncoordinated to carry a stick. I know those dogs belong to no one so I'm not so concerned what their end result might be. I'm only concerned with my girls. Momma Bear syndrome.

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

The fun thing is that if the dog does belong to someone who later pets him on the head and then rubs their own face.... you get some revenge on the owner. BURN!

Aragon greyhounds said...

Wow I have been careless about carrying my pepper spray on walks but I will find it and start carrying it again.

Know what you mean about breed bans and stupid people. Some years ago out here a retired racer killed a cat while out on a walk on a flexie leash. Owner didn't take responsibilty and ran away. The incident was seen by neighbors and the owners tracked down. Still denied responsibilty. As a result there was a huge movement in the town to have greyhounds only allowed in public muzzled. It made me so mad to have to fight this battle because of a person's stupidity and carelessness. At least the pit bull owner owned up to his responsiblity.

Why someone would want to have dangerous dogs is beyond me. And why leave ticking timebombs with some stranger!!!

jcp said...

Pepper spray is a very good idea. It would deter the attacking dog without inflicting serious injury.
I like it and will look into getting some. Another thing to consider, if you are dealing with a dog who will not let go, is that there are pressure points at the hinge of the jaw (on humans just behind the earlobe). They are painful when pushed on and should make the dog release.
I think we have to be careful about the concept of "dangerous dogs" and "Time Bombs". Many greyhounds are dangerous to small dogs. That's why they need to be socialized. Some dogs may never be good with small dogs or rabbits or mice or squirrels or genii-pigs. It is in their nature and we are trying to tame that nature. That process can take time. It is up to us as pet owners to provide the proper environment for them so that they do not become a danger to other animals and thus themselves.

Katie said...

What a terrible story. It's that kind of thing that makes me hesitant to ever leave my own pit bulls in the care of a pet sitter, because I fear that they would "know better" than me and do something stupid that could get my dogs killed. Both of my dogs are wonderful dogs. Both of them are also dog aggressive in a number of scenarios.

I have basically stopped walking my dogs in my neighborhood due to off-leash dogs. Big dogs, mostly, with their heads down and their hackles up. Usually I can back them down by getting in their faces, but not always. I had a horrendously scary incident with a loose pit bull, and the only thing that saved my butt was some woman hearing me yelling and coming outside, which scared the dog away. He was NOT backing down and I didn't know how to get around him without taking my eyes off him.

I need to start carrying my pepper spray on the few occasions when I do walk my dogs, and to not be afraid to use it.

alex said...

Great Post! I really do need to get some pepper spray.
I do carry a big stick with me ever since our neighbor's dogs charged Hero and I and left bite marks on his back legs (they are only little "Westies"- but still, I think that any attack is unacceptable, when I am leash walking my dog on a public sidewalk!)
Lately, another owner on our street has been allowing his dogs out whenever he sees me walking the dogs because he thinks it is "funny" to watch his "little" dogs bark, charge, and otherwise harass my "big" dogs.
My fear is that one day one of the dogs (either his or my greyhounds- if they get spooked enough to pull free)is going to get hit by a car.
I really don't blame the dogs, I blame the humans... (Liking the idea of SOMEHOW getting the pepper spray back to the owners)...

Kathy said...

It is such a sad story. One that I have not been able to get off my mind since I read it on the email list last week. I too have gone out and got pepper spray to carry with me because I will not allow that to happen to me or my dogs.

It breaks my heart that through the stupidity of that &*%^ sitter, 4 dogs died. And Jen--living in Georgia, it would probably be a good service to advise folks in Georgia the sitter's name so that no one else uses her.

I was so glad the Pits' owner accepted responsibility. Still so sad.

I am totally against breed banning. As Jen mentions, where would the line be drawn? Several of the comments written here bring that to light, especially the irresponsibile Greyhound owner (who did not accept responsibility for the dog killing a cat and as a result gave Greyhounds a bad name in that community) and the fact that many hounds are not small dog/animal safe--which should help folks understand that any breed could theoretically be banned because of IRRESPONSIBLE owners.

Katie's story about her own pits (walking ON LEASH) being threatened should also help people see it's an issue of dogs being allowed to roam or being dumped strays or bi-products of unneutered parents.

I have several friends with pits who are as sweet and loving as you can imagine including one that was severely abused but is great around dogs, cats, kids & people alike. I know RESPONSIBLE owners with so many of the breeds that would end up on a breed ban list.

Let's not blame and punsih the animal. Hold the right party accountable--humans.

Annoying Koala said...

To protect our dogs, we as the owners can do these two things
1) Call Animal control when you see a dog off leash. Some dog owners think "it's fine" that their dogs are off leash and these owners usually don't have too much control over their dogs. By calling AC, you are protecting your dogs from potential harm and have the authority "educates" the not-so-responsible dog owners.
2) Carry a Peppy spray or a Citron-based spray ( Spray Shield). I live in Virginia and it's illegal to carry pepper spray.

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

Great comments everyone. This was one of those posts I was not sure how it would be received. I checked on state laws (cause I didn't even think about that... thank you Koala) and found this website - http://www.peppereyes.com/page/peppersprayregs.
I think animal repellent pepper spray is legal in all 50 states. But its probably worth reviewing the rules. My understanding is that the animal repellent is slightly weaker than pure pepper spray.

Also, thank you Aragon for a great example of how a breed like the greyhound could be put on a breed ban list.

Bridget said...

Off leash dogs of any breed makes me crazy. My favorite response from an owner with an off lead dog is "he/she is friendly" Makes me want to smack them upside their heads.

We've had some close calls and I didn't even think about buying pepper spray! Brilliant.

Anonymous said...

How tragic!!

Personally, I carry Guard Alaska. It's bear repellent, and the advantage is that it has a 25 foot spray. It's hyper stepped up pepper spray, but after being attacked twice while walking my hounds, I decided never again.


Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

Wow, I love the sound of a 25 foot spray! That would be great to stop a dog from that distance.

Yes, I hate the "Oh, he's friendly!".... well, sometimes the responsible person is holding the leash on a dog that is not."

Jemma said...

I am too lazy to log in right now, but I wanted to reply to this post. The pepper spray is a good idea. I carry one with me on walks, but I may have to replace it because it's getting old - thanks for the reminder!

Loose dog attacks makes me nervous when going out with Jemma. I know it can happen to anyone and any sized dog, but I think I am much more paranoid than many people because Jem is 5 lbs. She looks like a squirrel from afar!

We've had a few encouters with BIG loose dogs just running up to us...and their owners are across the street and down the block. One time I was bent down picking up poop and when I got up, right beside me staring at Jemma was a huge Rottweiler. Scared me. We have been lucky that none of the dogs we've encountered so far wanted to charge/attack and I would like to think that the owners let them off-leash BECAUSE they know their dogs are friendly, but we all know there are some really stupid irresponsible owners out there.

This issue does make our walks uncomfortable sometimes. I don't like going to dog parks because of the same stupidity of some owners, but going on neighborhood walks means potentially encountering off-leash dog aggressive dogs. Wish there was a solution other than pepper spray and sticks!

IHeartDogs said...

A loose dog is so scary! I'm glad the pepper spray worked for you. The bear spray sounds awesome.

Run free sweet dogs... Such a tragic event.

Barb said...

Good post!

I got in the habit of carrying pepper spray (I've heard that wasp spray works very well too, if you can't find pepper spray - and most brands reach 20 feet or more) many years ago but have only had to use it twice on loose dogs. Both times it worked perfectly, just switched the attack off and sent the dog running for home.

It's not only when you are walking a large dog that you need to carry spray! Even if your dog is small enough for you to pick up that may not help prevent an attack. Many, MANY humans have been badly injured because their small dog was being attacked and they picked it up, only to find that the attacking dog didn't stop.

All dogs can and will bite under the right circumstances... some take a hell of a lot of provocation first but they all can inflict injury. And the bigger the dog the more dangerous it can be. You are so correct in that if we start thinking that banning certain breeds will keep us safe, the end result could be that all large dogs are banned.

And it's not so far fetched... earlier this year in Texas we defeated a State bill that would have basically declared all dogs over 40 lbs. dangerous! It would have required them to be on leash at all times, period - no exemptions for anything including dog parks, agility or obedience trials, training classes, hunting etc.

Elaine Summerhill said...

Loose dogs don't only attack other animals. They've also been known to attack people. It is frightening to think of an 80# dog attacking a person, but what about those 5 pounders that attack? Most people think it's funny. Let me tell y'all, it isn't. This past summer I was out looking for a lost borzoi puppy in ABQ. I was walking through a park and there was an old couple sitting on a park bench. As I walked past them, their chihuahua darted out from under the bench and attacked me! It ripped my skirt (I got the call while at church) and drew blood from my ankle. Damn that hurt! Wish I had had pepper spray then, even if the owners were there. They couldn't believe their "little chica" bit me. Grrr....

On other walks in our neighborhood, which is out in the boonies, I've had standoffs with strays. One day, I called my hubby to come & pick me up in the car as the dog wasn't backing down.

Thankfully, I've not had any of the hounds with me when during these instances.

IHateToast said...

we don't have many pit bulls here. they're banned. it's sad. it's not a new breed, but the newish reputation from bad people had meant that bad people imported them and did what they could to have a bully breed. now they're banned and people are calling for a cull. knee jerk, anyone?

in OZ, the english staffy is the breed that can attack if raised to be a bully. our neighbour has the sweetest staffy. norma and tamale used to lick and talk to each other through the fence. my neighbour knew that it's a strong breed and was strict. she's lovely. when at the park, if another staffy owner lets theirs run out of control, he takes off. it's a very popular breed here. most popular, i'd say. but many want it for the tough look. they then make a tough dog. there's always news about a staffy mauling.

honest to god, research your breed. pepper spray is a good idea, for anyone: runners, walkers, dog walkers, etc.

my hubby was making a dish with a tinkerbell pepper. he bit into one and then snuck up and kissed me. my lips burned for ages. so yes, double revenge would work with the spray.