Responsibility, a big part in being a dog owner.

As dog owner, I have several huge responsibilities. I am charged with making sure that I provide the best care for my dog, provide her with love, and with exercise and socialization with other dogs. Above all else, my primary responsibility to her is to keep her safe. In a city like Manhattan,  where backyards are luxuries, and most people rely on sidewalks, parks, and dog runs, safety becomes a shared responsibility. I must look out for my dog and keep my eye on the actions of other dogs.and owners.

Last night, at my local dog run, my dog was attacked by a much larger and stronger dog. My 20lb dog, unprovoked, was pinned down and the larger dog’s jaw was clenched down on her jowls. My boyfriend instantly jumped in the middle and was pleading with the other dog’s owner to help him separate the two.  Instead, the other owner just stood idle and watched. As my boyfriend was screaming for him to help, his response was to “let the dogs be and they will eventually stop.” My boyfriend had to physically lift the other owner’s dog, and when he did my dog was hanging by her jowls in the other dog’s jaw. Finally, he was able to separate the two and evaluate the injuries.  The other owner did not apologize. He did not ask if she was ok.

Some of you may be thinking: “why did your boyfriend take your smaller dog into the park with the bigger dog?” My boyfriend, exercising his responsibility of keeping our dog safe, asked the owner if his dog was friendly prior to entering the park. He was told that the dog was friendly, playful, and has never attacked another dog.

After the altercation, and learning from the police that there were no laws against dog on dog violence, we spoke with other people who subsequently showed up to the park. Three separate dog owners told us that they will not bring their dog to the park if they see him because this exact scenario has played out several times before – including the dog attacking other dogs, and even biting another owner in the arm prompting police action. Each time, the dog’s owner stood there and watched. I have a problem with this as should all dog owners, dog lovers, and anyone who has a shred of common sense.  If you know your dog is not friendly, do not bring it to a park. Or, because the dog still deserves exercise, wait until the park is empty. And, if this is truthfully the first time it has happened, step up and apologize. Simply put, do the right thing.

Owning a dog is one of the greatest gifts I have ever known. I take full responsibility for my dog’s actions. She does not bite or even know how to injure another dog. But, if the situation was reversed and my dog was the aggressor, I guarantee that I would have acted differently than this person did. Unfortunately there are no laws against ignorant people owning dogs. If there were, maybe there would be a lot less animal abuse by humans and a lot less dog on dog violence.

It’s not hard. If you have a dog, socialize them while they are young. If you rescue an older dog, there are ways to socialize them in a safe environment for everybody. Please don’t bring unfriendly dogs to the park and put the other dogs and people at risk of injury or something worse. Take responsibility for your dog and for the safety of the dog community.

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