Monday, November 16, 2015

Dog Attack! -- Lessons Learned

Earlier today I was involved in a dangerous situation that really brought home to me the need to always be ready for whatever may occur. Complacency and a false sense of safety are easy, but dangerous, habits to fall into.

What Happened

After breakfast this morning, I took my small dog for a walk in our neighborhood. My Mother, who is in her 70s, went with us. It was a walk around our neighborhood that we take almost daily, and only takes about 20 minutes.

On the way home, we were suddenly confronted by a very large dog (over 100 lbs) I had not seen before in the neighborhood. This dog immediately started acting aggressively (not playfully) towards my dog, to the point that I feared for my dogs safety, so I picked her up to carry her home. That was when the other dog started jumping on me, pushing and scratching me while trying to get to my dog. This aggressive behavior kept up as I tried to get home with my dog and my Mother, who was near panic over the situation (the dog concentrated on me and my dog, and mostly left my Mother alone).

My next door neighbor saw what was happening and came out to help us get home, waving a stick and yelling to distract the dog. My legs, hips, and back were all scratched up by the dog, with a few of the scratches deep enough to draw a little blood. However, the dog never bit me or anyone else, so I describe its behavior as very aggressive, but not vicious. I do wonder what would have happened had it managed to knock me down. It could have been a lot worse.

After getting inside, I called the county's Animal Control to report what happened. More on that later in this article.

My Mistakes and Lessons Learned

I live in a very solid middle-class to upper-middle-class neighborhood in the exurbs of Charlotte. We are in a neighboring county, in a area off the beaten path, in a neighborhood that I know well, and consider(ed) relatively safe and quiet. I am embarrassed to admit that I had developed a false sense of safety and complacency about my immediate surroundings. I was caught totally off-guard by the events of this morning.

Mistake 1: Because I had nothing going on this morning, I had not gotten ready like I normally do before leaving the house. In fact, I was still wearing the sweat pants I slept in the night before, along with a lightweight jacket. After all, what could go wrong on a short walk in my safe neighborhood? The sweat pants offered no protection against the dog's nails. Had I been wearing jeans or cargo pants like I normally do, I would not have been as scratched up as I am.

Mistake 2: For the same reasons, I did not have my full EDC on me, and I was not carrying at the time of the attack.

Mistake 3: My Mother, who is in her 70s, had no idea what to do and was near-panic throughout the attack. What she should have done was to go to the nearest neighbors, get inside to safety, and then called 911. Instead, she kept wanting to try to do something to help (there was nothing she could do). I kept telling her to just go home, but she kept stopping to yell at the dog and trying to shoo it away. This only distracted me, put herself in danger, and made the situation worse. In hindsight, I should have previously talked to her about what to do in a dangerous situation, whether it be a dog attack, mugging, or something else.

The Big Lesson 1: Do not be complacent. Danger can happen suddenly and unexpectedly at any time and in any place. There is no truly "safe place" where you can completely let your guard down. I should have been fully and appropriately dressed, carrying my full EDC, including handgun. Even for a short walk in my safe neighborhood.

The Big Lesson 2: Make sure everyone in your family/group knows what to do in dangerous situations. Some folks, like my Mother, may not be able to be "fighters" because of their age or health, but they should still know what do do, how to react, when danger presents itself. Everyone needs to be taught safety and security, regardless of age, health, or whatever...

Another Lesson: Physical fitness is very important. I had to carry my 26-pound dog about 400 yards while she was struggling in my arms, while I was twisting and turning trying to keep her away from the other dog, while the 100+ pound dog was constantly jumping up on me, pushing me, and scratching me. I'm in fairly good shape, but that was difficult. Hours later, I am exhausted, and my shoulders and upper arms are aching.

Animal Control

Naturally, I called my county's Animal Control to report the incident. It took three phone calls and just over four hours before I could get them to respond, despite the fact that the aggressive dog was still running around the neighborhood. I hate to say this because I am a big supporter of law enforcement, but in this case they left me with the distinct impression that they just didn't want to be bothered to do their job, and simply tried their best to blow me off and not deal with it. They only responded because I kept calling, finally getting angry about it. If I had not become the proverbial "squeaky wheel," I don't believe they would have ever showed up.  

Today's reality is we cannot count on government to protect us; we have to protect ourselves. 

Final note: As of now, the situation seems to have finally been resolved. I won't give the details, but this appears to be a case a serial irresponsible pet owner. Thankfully, neither my Mother nor my dog were hurt, and I only received  a number of scratches. It could have been much worse.  


  1. I'm glad it was just a "learning" experience and not something worse.


  2. Thanks, Todd. I really got complacent and it was almost a disaster. Hopefully, I've learned from this wake-up call.

  3. Yet another lesson: get a big dog. :) Actually, I'm glad you got through this okay. Is it possible your dog was in heat? That could explain a lot.

  4. She was "fixed" when she was a puppy. Do they still give off some signals after that?

  5. Hi Tim, If you were carrying a firearm would you have shot the dog? IMHO you would have been perfectly justified in doing so.

    With perfect hindsight what would you have done differently? Pepper spray? Bear spray?

    I am very frightened of large agressive dogs and would gladly shoot one, but I am sure this would put me in some legal hot water. ( I am bi-polar when it comes to dogs. I really love friendly dogs and really hate mean ones)

  6. Good question. I'm not 100% sure, but probably wouldn't have under those circumstances, unless things had gotten any more out of control. I'm a dog person and would be very reluctant to put one down unless I had too. As it happened, everyone got home without being bit. However, I was very aware that I didn't have the option because I wasn't carrying, even if the dog had been biting or even went after my elderly mother. Knowing I couldn't protect her if the dog went after her

    made the situation that much more stressful.

    1. Hi Tim, Thanks for responding!

      I did some poking around online after reading your article and there seems to be a consensus that bear spray is the way to go.

      Some advocated stun guns but: a.the risk of accidental kill is too high. b. you have to get within bite range to deploy.

      I live in Quebec City and our Gov't forces us into a stance of almost total vulnerability. There is an unavoidable section of town where ( a small number of) druggie, semi-homeless punk rockers walk the streets with pitbulls on "leashes " of varying levels of structural integrity. Scares the crap out of me. Not so much for myself, I am huge. But what if I were to witness an attack on a child? I would feel honor bound to jump in, while having no clue what to do.

      We do have bears on the outskirts of the city and so bear spray is tolerated and available, problem solved.

      FYI .....I was referred here by Pastor Joe Fox and am enjoying your articles very much.

    2. I don't know anything about bear spray, but will look into it now. Thanks!


SPAM and Trolls are removed daily.