I just witnessed cruelty to a dog and I don't know what to do

betsyhacJune 5, 2012

How cruel is it to pick up a 5-6 month old Shepherd/Hound mix puppy by the skin on his back in two places (lower than the scruff of his neck), carry him that way about 5 feet, then up about 5 steps, then about 5 more feet? I just witnessed my neighbor do this in anger to his dog, and I'm really upset about it. I know it hurt the dog; he was wimpering in pain. This is the first time I've seen this guy be cruel to the dog, which he's had for a couple of weeks, altho he does seem to have a short temper about the dog running away, which I think is completely unrealistic at this point. I haven't really seen him employ any tried and true training techniques - just a lot of yelling the dog's name - and the dog doesn't seem to get much time being outside and running either, which is so wrong, especially for a puppy.

You know, I'm not immune to anger. I'm Irish and have a temper. I yell at my animals probably more than I should. But I have zero tolerance for cruelty. And I'm really angry right now about this and trying not to react too strongly.

He did this in front of his children, too - 4 and 7, which is really stupid. Nice lesson for the kids.

He had no business getting a dog, and I know his wife didn't want one. His mother takes care of their kids during the day, and she's all about big "woe is me" drama whenever she has to deal with the dog. Their 4 year old has myriad medical issues and is special needs. The Mom has myriad medical issues and debilitating migraines, which have had her off of work on disability for several months at a time. The Mom is a sweetheart tho. And this guy is generally a nice guy, albeit quiet and difficult to talk to. They're young - 30ish - and his actions often lead me to think that he's in denial about his situation.

I'm surprised, too, to see him do such a poor job of training, bc his sister has two dogs that are really sweet and well-behaved. And he and his sister are close.

I know that if I see anything like this again, I will not be able to contain myself. Right now, I'm wondering if I just need to get over it and not react at all. I'm not a passive person, and I will not ever stand by and be quiet if I see abuse.

TIA for your input,


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Call the police or animal control, report this, & get their assurance that they will investigate & that they will not mention your name or indicate in any way that they know who called.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 2:40PM
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When we had an (ongoing) animal abuse next door, our animal control was woefully powerless. I ended up keeping a notepad at my backdoor so when I witnessed cruelty/neglect, I noted date, time, and who I spoke w/ at animal control/police station. When I finally said "what can I do to stop this? I am ready to stand in a courtroom & tell if I must to protect this dog" to my animal control officer, after many months, she advised me in a roundabout way. I dealt with the situation, but my solution isn't recommended. I took the dog out of a very abusive/neglectful home. It was a matter of breaking the law to do the right thing morally.

Cruelty is wrong on so many levels. Maybe you could send an anonymous letter to your neighbor, he'll figure it was a close neighbor though. Speaking to him likely won't help, generally people who aren't in control of a situation DO NOT want to hear criticism/suggestions no matter how kindly or carefully you do it. You're in a bad place, and my hackles are up from just hearing about it. How is a dog going to be around those little kids if he treats it that way?

    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 3:30PM
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First let me say Im sorry you had to witness such an act, and second I also come from an Irish (part) background, and understand all about getting your Irish up, I too can not stand abuse. The neighbors actions border on abuse, they were very inapropriate at the least. The least expensive and least dangerous way to approach the manner is o go get those little $10 training books at the pet shop, they are usually by check out, and leave the book by his door annymously.
What it sounds like is that this guy is completely overwhelmed by his current circumstances and is on the edge of his capacity to deal with it all.
You might want to speak with the wife about what you saw, let her know how it still haunts you and ask if you can help in some way, walking the dog, allowing it to be with you and your pets for awhile during the day, gifting them a training session, something to help take lessens this mans burden.
I hope this was a one time issue and the guy gets to a place where he can walk off his frustrations while taking his dog out for a nice walk a couple of times a day. This is a delicate situation and you need to be careful. Lack of Domestic Bliss takes lives, even those of people trying to help. Good luck

    Bookmark   June 6, 2012 at 7:21AM
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Are you friends with his sister? If so maybe when you see or -- or call her -- you can mention that it looks like brother is having a tough time with the puppy, and suggest she can step in and help with the training?

    Bookmark   June 6, 2012 at 10:54AM
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I second what Jakabedy wrote. It sounds like you know the sister and that she's great with her dogs. She would probably be horrified that he did this and talk to him. I do not understand why people who have no business having pets still insist on having them. It is downright stupid, if you don't have the time or the money or the right situation, just don't get any pets!!!

    Bookmark   June 7, 2012 at 4:41PM
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Just wanted to say thank you to you all, and follow up.
I saw him do it again and was completely beside myself. I decided to buy them an invisible fence (even tho I'm unemployed).
A different neighbor suggested that I make up a story about how I knew someone who could get the fence for cheap and offer to sell it to them for $30, so they would be more comfortable about getting it (it cost me $200). But that same neighbor told me "it could be worse," "he's a good person," "the dog will have a loving home," and then suggested several things to say to them, 99% of which I'd already said and had the sense (obviously) to have said w/o being TOLD to say them. She also lectured me on how to be a good neighbor. Let's just say I've distanced myself from her for the time being while I forgive her for being an a$$. I did ask for her input, but didn't appreciate being lectured to when I was not the one in the wrong. I admit that I did say I "hated" the guy after I saw him do it the second time, but I'm pretty convinced that the ability to be cruel like that is a mindset.
I can't talk to the sister, bc I really don't know her - just to say hi.
I came to my senses and took the fence back. If, at some point in the future, I have the opportunity, I will suggest it.
I was finally able to convince his wife to let me take the puppy for a while during the day while they are working. She and I actually talked last night and SHE said that her husband expects the dog to say in the yard already and it's an unrealistic expectation. I was so happy to hear this that I held my tongue and did not criticize him to her. My plan now is to not only give the puppy a couple of hours of safe, fun time each day in my fenced-in yard with my dogs, but to also work on training with him while he's here.
Thx again everyone, and wish me luck!

    Bookmark   June 14, 2012 at 10:42AM
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Hats off to you Betsy! The invisible fence may have worked, but I have doubts the guy would have taken the time to install and use it correctly. It takes days of training and patience to teach your dog to use it, so I think you made a good decision to take it back.

Next time you talk to the wife, ask her if it would be ok if you gave her info on how to train puppies. Then take a little of the money you would have spent on the fencing and buy them an easy-to-read book on basic puppy training......or buy a video. Better yet, if she uses internet, ask if you can send her some online info.

Good Luck!

    Bookmark   June 15, 2012 at 8:41PM
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A leash is kinder than an electronic fence. Cheaper too. I know you mean well, but replacing one type of pain for another is still cruelty - just a different form :(

    Bookmark   June 16, 2012 at 11:02AM
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I know you mean well with your post, Cynthia, but it comes across as condescending.
I couldn't disagree more. Invisible fences are not cruel. They allow animals to be free and safe.
Tying up a dog is very cruel.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 10:20AM
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I have had invisible fencing for several years and there is nothing cruel about them Trained properly dogs very soon learn that the warning beep means step back. And I agree tying up a dog is cruel in my opinion. My dogs have the run of the yard and are happy dogs.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 10:43AM
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I didn't mean to come across as condescending BetsyHac. My apologies for your misunderstanding of that. Shocking a dog is cruel. No decent trainer uses pain to train a dog. Did you mention tieing up was an option ? I must have missed that. If you have a dog, keep him in the house, on a leash and walk him or allow time in a fenced yard with supervision. There are civilized countries were shock collars are illegal. Don't kid your self that they are humane. There are many kinds of cruelty, and replacing one type of cruelty with another doesn't make sense.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 5:34PM
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Cynthia, you might need to educate yourself a little more about the invisible fences, the shock is not cruel, even my Vet suggested it when I talked to her about fencing options. Beating a dog or worse yet a puppy because it won't stay in an unfenced yard is cruel, putting the dog on a tie is also cruel. Not only can they often chew through the tie but some get it caught around trees and other things which can endanger them.

Betsy, good luck on the training, I'm sure whatever you're able to do for the dog will be appreciated.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 7:39PM
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What countries?

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 8:16PM
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I remember as a very young child one of the very few times my father ever spanked me was when I ignored his rule and crossed a busy street with a lot of automobile traffic at the end of the cul-de-sac block where we lived, by myself. I never did it again.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 10:19PM
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BetsyHac, shock collars are illegal in Wales and Australia. Lukkirish, I choose not to abuse my dogs with shock collars and other painful devices and methods. Not sure what your vet's opinion has to do with this as vets are not behaviorists. Educate yourself on the subject. I have.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 6:06AM
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If any animal should be kept under lock and key to protect other animals, it's the human animal. Many, many innocent, sweet animals are TORTURED, not just killed, so that humans can eat them, use them for sport, or because the human is sick and sadistic.
If you've ever shocked yourself with an electric fence, you'll know that it doesn't harm the animal, just scares them. It's not "painful."
I imagine that electrified fences may be illegal, and that's an entirely different thing, but I'm done with this debate.
You can have your opinion, albeit misguided, and I'll have mine. At the end of the day, we are probably better pet owners than most people.
I would guess that a lot of vets would take issue with your assessment that they are not behaviorists.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 10:29AM
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murraysmom Zone 6 OH

My 78 year old neighbor picked up her neighbor's invisible fence dog collar and got shocked by it! She couldn't believe how much it hurt!

She was picking it up because their dog had run through the fence to get at something, but then wouldn't come back into the yard because of the fear of getting a jolt. So they took the collar off to get the dog back in his yard. She picked it up to help and was painfully shocked.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 3:29PM
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spedigrees z4VT

I've been shocked many times over the years by the electric fences I've used to contain my horses. It isn't an experience you want to repeat, which is why horses quickly learn to avoid the fence. They are not however frightened of the fence or stressed out by its existence. They simply know that it bites and they stay inside its perameters.

I've never used an electric fence to contain my dogs but the principle is the same.

Cynthia, I think you are confusing "shock collars" (used for "training" by an owner with a remote control unit who can shock the dog at will) with collars that accompany an electric fence system and administer a shock only if the dog tries to cross the barrier. The former is indeed cruel in my opinion, and the latter not at all providing the dog is correctly trained so he can understand how it works.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 4:56PM
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"My apologies for your misunderstanding of that."

The last time I heard an "apology" like that was about a hundred years ago when a passive/aggressive guy at work told me he was sorry I chose to respond negatively to his candid observation (insulting personal comment).

"I choose not to abuse my dogs with shock collars and other painful devices and methods. Not sure what your vet's opinion has to do with this as vets are not behaviorists. Educate yourself on the subject. I have."

I'd much rather have a shock collar on a dog than have the dog beaten or run over.

A person who has educated herself on behaviorism (how to get a subject to do what you want), would likely couch her opinions & advise in more palatable terms.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 5:47PM
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Lukkirish, I choose not to abuse my dogs with shock collars and other painful devices and methods. Not sure what your vet's opinion has to do with this as vets are not behaviorists. Educate yourself on the subject. I have.

Gee Cynthia, I was trying to be nice with my replies but since you prefer to get nasty, I'm happy to be equally as blunt. If you can't understand why a Vet would have an opinion about how a puppy or dog is cared for, you are more clueless than I originally thought. :c) I know several Vets and they aren't in the business they're in for the money. While making a decent living is always part of the equation, most Vets become Vets because of their love of animals. Most are involved with them some how outside of work too. It's also really obvious that you have very little knowledge about this topic as well.

More specifically, you have no idea what the credentials of my Vet are nor the relationship I have with her so who are you to comment on it? FWIW, she owns several dogs and IS very involved with training and local rescue chapters; more than most. I appreciate that she is engaged with her patients and their families. Her advise on general care and behavior training for our puppy has been invaluable. We followed her advise and now have a super happy, well adjusted, fully trained and non destructive dog. Hmmm...it would seem that maybe you don't have a Vet who is involved in the WHOLE care and life quality of your dog. Is that why your expectations of a Vets knowledge outside of the clinic is so low?

We are not abusers and go to great lengths (and expense) to ensure our girl is properly cared for. I take issue that you would imply otherwise.

NEWS ALERT! Shock collars are not used with invisible fences. A collar that CAN shock is. There is a difference!

Of course you're entitled to your opinion, it's just not an educated one. LOL

    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 6:27PM
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