Pitbull free to roam: the flip side of the Chile’s street dog issue

Quiltros, mutts, and street dogs… we’ve talked about them a lot here at Cachando Chile, and while many people have expressed their opinions, one topic that has not been an issue is that of street dogs being vicious.

A Cachando Chile reader who has asked to remain anonymous sent this story about an experience he had with canine bureaucracy and lack of efficacy in enforcing the few laws that do exist with respect to pet ownership and responsibility, not to mention common decency and the ethics of being a good neighbor.

To be clear, this is not an issue of quiltros, strays, or street dogs, which seldom seem to be aggressive. To be sure there presents the issue of certain breeds that are known to be easily provoked to violence and whether or not they should be allowed in a residential neighborhood, but in the end, this is absolutely a case of a dog with an irresponsible owner.

I have a lab and walk him everyday. No one else in the neighborhood seems to walk their dogs, so some dogs get a bit huffy when my dog cruises by each day. Lots of dogs are out or get out as cars drive in and some days there are some gafuffles. One day a pit bull got loose and, with the owner standing by, it attacked my dog, leaving three wounds needing stitching. I complain then and again the next day when the owner comes by and tries to make nice. I tell him to B off and I want the vet bill paid. I never heard back.

Second attack happens two months later and only two wounds needed stitching but there was a lot more blood. Owner apologizes, refuses to pay up (now 150,000 between two attacks), and insists he was just robbed and needs the dog for protection. It doesn’t seem to me the dog serves much to protect him, and it has endangered the neighborhood twice now.

The parking attendant tells me the next day that the dog gets out every second day, and I am lucky I have only had trouble twice in various months of walks. The dog killed a poodle and attacked an elderly lady the year before. These pit bull dogs are cruise missiles on pattern from when they see the other dog’s neck until they grab on til death do they part. I tried a kids’ baseball bat applied to the dog’s gonads amongst other things and all to no effect.

The police tell me they will speak to the neighbor and that I have no rights without being able to show the animal escaped. One cop tells me to trap the dog outside his domain if the owner is not about the next time this happens.

The third attack happens almost in front of my home. I carry newspaper to burn (even tigers don’t like fire a neighbor has told me). No dice, the dog is too quick. Somehow high on adrenalin watching my dog dying for the third time, I grab the pit bull by the collar and throw him inside my home’s side garden and slam the gate. Now I have only to call the police to come and get him. No dice. They chuckle and say to take the dog back because the killing machine living in my children’s neighborhood is not my ‘property’. I asked the policeman’s badge number and am not given it.

The next day, with the dog trapped in my garden, I call the mayor’s office and e-mail all of my local politicians. No dice, no one wants to be an animal hater. I go to see the owner without the dog. The owner, a neighbor tells me, has gone to the beach for the week—ie., with his pit bull in the street, he left for a week. Neighbor confirms that he was worried but couldn’t miss the beach.

After no answer from the mayor I call and call the municipality until someone comes to inspect. They tell me they can solve the problem, but I have to take the dog to their trash collecting facility. I say no. The press arrives. After I tell the press to go away, I ask the municipality once more to solve the problem and take the carcass with them. And they did. And I am grateful to them for assuming with me the responsibility of solving a problem that needed solving.

I am sad for the dog who was taken into the home of someone so irresponsible, but my children are not going to be the poster children for a decent law about dangerous guard dogs. Full Stop.

Again. This is not a quiltro (mixed breed dog). This is not a street dog. This is not an abandoned dog (although we could argue that is it  neglected). Take a look at the comments that developed after the announcement of the Bicentennial Chile Dog winner, especially the one Marmo left on January 13 with these important links:

Conciencia Animal on Laws

and Chilean Senate news on the the Responsibilities of Pet Owners

And of course, check out the other Cachando Chile pieces on the subject, then come back and give us YOUR two cents’ worth. Got ideas on how to fix this problem?

See other dog-related posts on Cachando Chile:

Santiago de Chile Part II: Of Dogs and Men... (February 7, 2011)

Bicentennial Chile Dog: And we have a Winner! (January 8, 2010)

Lost Dogs: Quiltros  & Hero Dogs (November 25, 2009)

In Search of the Bicentennial Chile Dog (October 30, 2009)

Chile: It’s a Dog’s World (April 14, 2009)

8 responses to “Pitbull free to roam: the flip side of the Chile’s street dog issue

  1. Sorry, I’m confused – was the pit bull killed in the end? I didn’t get that from the story, but then the use of the word “carcass” at the end makes me wonder. So what exactly happened?

    I got goosebumps reading this just thinking how awful it must be to watch your dog be attacked not once but three times and feel totally helpless to stop it. I think pit bulls CAN be pets, but they take a lot of effort and attention to make sure they’re trained and socialized, something this dog clearly didn’t have. If they don’t get it, they’re killing machines – that’s what they were bred to be. We have a neighbor who walks his pit bull off-leash but only late at night, and the dog is clearly well-trained (and doesn’t seem to take an interest in people or other dogs). These dogs need to focus on one person, or else it just doesn’t work.

    I actually wrote a post about the flip side of this, which is how I find it funny that people who don’t give kiltros a second look clutch their children in fear when my 12 kilo Cocker Spaniel mix walks by! I think in general there’s a lot of irresponsible dog ownership here (not neutering, letting dogs roam the streets), and as such people often don’t properly socialize their dogs, which means they’re aggressive. Not quite as dangerous in a poodle as in a pit bull but still unpleasant.

  2. On Christmas Day we went to the Quinta with our kiltro. There were tons of dogs off leash, as usual, combined with lots of strays, which I didn’t think anything of. But there was a pit bull of leash, with his owner standing by watching a few meters away, as his dog snarled aggressively at a couple of strays. We high tailed it out of there with Papito and didn’t stay to see the attack, but I’m 100% positive there was one.

    I was seething. It’s so irresponsible to have a poorly trained pitbull off leash.

    I feel so bad for the guy in your story whose dog was attacked repeatedly. I would do anything for my dog, including kill another dog if it were attacking her. I’d probably feel remorse about it afterward, but I totally sympathize for this person.

  3. I´m like Emily, he said “carcass”? What happened when the neighbour came back? Did his dog survive?
    That´s a terrible story, but maybe has ocurred many times in Chile.

  4. Our neighbors in VT have some sort of pitbull mix and it attacked my little dog and it was all my dad could do to make it stop by whacking it on the head with a stick. A big stick. It’s so horrible that nothing can be done here about menacing dogs with owners, while the government can routinely go around and “euthanize” street dogs, whether they pose a threat or not. It makes me sick.

  5. What a terrible experience for the dog, and especially the owner. How thoroughly irresponsible.

    I know that we’re talking about irresponsible dog owners, and that everyone loves the strays, but I have to take issue with the “street dogs are sweet” thing. I, and two very good friends of mine have all been bitten by street dogs while riding our bikes, and another friend (and a veterinarian!) was bitten as well, drawing blood and tearing her running shoe. So while maybe some street dogs are sweet, there’s a also a whole giant set of them that run after cyclists, snap their jaws and occasionally get a mouthful. It’s terrifying, and really dangerous, though at least they’re not pit bulls.

  6. Hi everyone… yes, the problem was “resolved” by putting the dog down. Mind you, this was a governmental agency that did not want it to get out that they could or would do this. My questions is, “why not?” The dog is clearly a menace, has harmed other animals and who is to say that it won’t harm a child? or adult for that matter?
    Emily, I remember you wrote about your dog-walking incident and it seemed so strange at the time that people would get upset about it, but I guess there are all kinds.
    Marmo- it was adios to the pitbull and the the author’s dog is alive and well… and I suspect that this sort of thing probably DOES happen more than we ever hear about!
    Abby- you’re right, but I guess it’s a case of the dog owner having the weight to object that saves the animal.
    Eileen- good point. I’m surprised it hasn’t come up before. Dogs do seem to like to chase bikes–or pretty much anything that moves, I guess. There have often been times when I was very glad I didn’t have to ride a bike through some of the packs of dogs that roam the streets! One time I even saw a pack flip out over a brief case… ever person that walked by with a brief case got chased! (?? who knows…) Anyway, Eileen, I wish you safe, dogless bicycle riding from now on!

  7. It’s the standard case of ‘not my problem.’ Unfortunately government offices are all as slack as each other so none of them are going to get in trouble if they don’t bother doing something about this because nobody could be bothered to get them into trouble.

    Making a scene seems to be the only way to get thing done at times. Threatening them with press, or embassies or something else (even if you know you wouldn’t or couldn’t go through with it) works a charm at times.

    Responsibility of pets is non-existent at times. My very down-to-earth Chilean friend called me a nazi when I suggested neutering the street doge was a good idea. Yet she couldn’t come up with any ideas herself about what to do about the problem.

    I regards to dogs chasing bicycles, I found a suggestion as to why they do this. An alpha dog knows that a bicycle will never challenge them and will always go away so when one comes through their territory they chase it with the knowledge they will win.

  8. Yeah some streed dogs are just plain mean! I had one chace me on my bike when I was a child right into a tree. The little bastard took my shoe!

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