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Help requested - muzzle order

Sarah Rix
March 7th, 2006, 09:44 AM

I am a relatively new member of the forum who is looking for advice
from other dog owners about how to handle a recent incident that
involved one of my three dogs. I have a GSD mix who dislikes young
dogs, and whom I have kept away from young dogs. Recently, I made an
error in judgement and let a young dog interact with him over too long
a period of time. As a result, my dog charged the young dog. My dog
was not on a leash at the time of the incident; the other dog was on a
flexi-lead that was too long to meet the bylaw definition of a leash
(2m or less). This incident occurred in a park that is not an off-
leash park in Toronto, Ontario.

When the incident happened, the other owner was really upset
(understandably), packed up her dog without checking him over or
letting me check him. She crossed the street to her home, and sent
her husband out to let me know that his dog was a $2,500 show dog, and
that he would sue me for all of his lost earnings if there was any
impact on his dog's social behaviour. He did not mention any physical
injury to his dog. From the position I was standing in, I cannot
confirm that the dogs did or did not make contact.

The owners of the young dog called Animal Services to register a
complaint. They were visited by an Animal Services officer two days
later, who said that he found a single puncture wound on the dog.
Because all three of my dogs were in the park and off leash at the
time of the incident, he issued muzzle orders to all three dogs.

I have filed an appeal of these muzzle orders, and am trying to figure
out how to deal with this responsibly. I've made a number of changes
since the incident, including not using the park off leash, and
enrolling all three of my dogs in additional obedience training. In
addition, the offending dog with the dislike of young dogs is being
put daily into situations with young dogs and corrected if he reacts
to them (he is on both a muzzle and a leash while this is going on).
The goal of this work is to try to eliminate his reactiveness to young
dogs so that I don't need to always avoid them. He doesn't need to
like them, but I need to be sure he will not hurt them.

While I am trying to make these changes, I also admit to not having
been a perfect dog owner - in particular, I have regularly had my dogs
off leash in our local park. This is a very wide spread practice (I
did a rough count, and approximately 95% of the 75 dogs who regularly
use the park do so off leash), but does not conform to the bylaw. I
have had a complaint lodged with Animal Services about this in the
past when one of my dogs got into the children's wading pool, and this
incident will form part of the history at the appeal. So my past
behaviour may well make this an uphill battle.

I would appreciate hearing from anyone who has been through a similar
experience, and could offer advice.

Thank you - Sarah

March 7th, 2006, 10:11 AM
I have to say that I have had my current dogs offleash in regular parks, against the bylaws, but my dogs are very social, without any reservation. My previous lab was very dog aggressive and we avoided dogs with all our ability. Personally, I think you were irresponsible letting a dog with aggression issues offleash in a public area.

On top of that, from your description, your dogs had a bad recall, which means they shouldn't have been let off the leash at all, regardless of aggression or not. There is no way you can be in complete control of your dogs off leash without a 100% recall. When other people and other dogs are involved, you have to have complete control, to avoid incidents like these, or at least to minimize the risk.

I don't know what you expect us to say here. :confused:

March 7th, 2006, 10:26 AM
To be completely honest. I agree with Prin, you had absolutely NO right allowing a dog aggressive dog off leash at all in a public Park.
I too do not follow all the bylaws in town, But I know my dogs limits. I will not set out to fail him. He was attacked once because the other person had no control over her dog, and was bit a couple of times by people allowing their dog off leash.
To be honest if your dog went after mine, I would have no problem kicking your dog off.
You are lucky that the other person did not have pepper spray, and possible blind your dog.
And this person whos dog yours attacked has every right to file a complaint, as well as ask for a muzzle on your dog. As well as a possible law suit. You knew in advance your dog was dog aggressive, yet you were very irresponsible. Well maybe now you will be more responsible....Think about it!

jesse's mommy
March 7th, 2006, 10:42 AM
Yes it was a mistake and you've definitely acknowledged it. We aren't perfect and mistakes do happen, but the question is are you going to learn from the mistake since you have been given a second chance to a potentially serious accident? It seems you have by enrolling all dogs (not just the one in questions) in additional training classes. You probably aren't going to get the best reactions on here because it was irresponsible, but keep your head up and stay positive and keep focusing on becoming a better owner. I personally think you are doing the right thing by correcting the mistake. Just keep up that attitude and keep focusing on the wellbeing of your dogs in addition to all the other dogs out there.

March 7th, 2006, 10:49 AM
I was on the other end of a dog attack - so I am looking at this situation from the other side where my dog was leashed and the other dog was off leash and attacked my dog. The owners knew their dog was not good with small dogs but decided to see if he had improved. The owner was taking animal behaviour courses at University and still the dog attacked - without warning. I do feel bad about your dogs having to wear muzzles but if the dog that attacked my dog was wearing a muzzle my dog wouldnt have had the serious bite wounds and bruising.

March 7th, 2006, 12:15 PM
I think it sounds like you have learned your lesson and are willing to learn more to make things right for everyone. Sorry it might be an expensive lesson.
I do think you should question the value of the dogs show earnings - it doesn't matter if they paid $5k for the pup - a show career is never guaranteed. The ears or tail might not set right, the length or height might be out of standard etc. One is never guaranteed anything when buying a show dog. Heck one of the top GSP's was found tied to a tree in someones back yard and went on to her championship - dogs shows are fairly subjective even though they aren't supposed to be.
I am not trying to excuse what happened but it irks me when it becomes about money not about the welfare of the dog. And I would rather see you put the $ into good training than into someones elses pocket.

March 7th, 2006, 04:43 PM
Since I work for Municipal government I can say that the steps you are taking to make the situation better will help you. I'm not sure why all dogs were issued mussel orders and would push the officials or court (depends on how the appeal system works there) to explain that one. As far as the dog that did attack goes the likelihood of having the order lifted on that one isn't good. Be reasonable, be rational and admit your mistakes. THe other party will have to be in court as well and it will come up that everyone involved wasn't really following the by-laws... Not sure what difference that makes, two wrongs don't make a right, but if the other dog had been leashed properly, its owner would have been more in tune with the mood of the dogs and might have been able to prevent the injury.
Having said that, people like me, who only take their dog to dog parks, and keep leashes on their dogs because either the park requires it or the distractions are too high to guarantee recall and follow every other rule out there, get really ticked when our dogs get jumped by dogs who are off leash or who are on 25 ft flexi leads or when we step in fresh piles of dog poop, or take small children to non-dog parks only to have a less than pleasant dog keep us away from the swings...
You've already admitted your mistakes, so this isn't a lecture its just something to keep in mind while you get ready for the appeal because the people you present your case to might be of like mind and be biased towards you for your past behavior.

March 12th, 2006, 12:00 PM
I am going to say in a way you are lucky. Bill 132 (the Pitbull act) includes laws that apply to all dogs regardless of breed, it has changed a lot since it's original form with amendments(thank goodness, because it had not you might have been writing about your dog being seized and destroyed instead)

Since the original act did not include control measures just a destruction order, it did not allow for considerations like past behaviour, seriousness of the injury inflicted, if the dog was protecting a home from an intruder or even if the owner was already trying to take precautions. And in the original form the dog did not even have to bite, all it had to do was show menancing behaviour toward a person or domestic animal and that was enough to have the dog seized and destroyed.

But under the Dog Owners’ Liability Act as it currently exists your dog does not have to do actual physical damage to have an order brought against you

4. (1) A proceeding may be commenced in the Ontario Court of Justice against an owner of a dog if it is alleged that,

(a) the dog has bitten or attacked a person or domestic animal;

(b) the dog has behaved in a manner that poses a menace to the safety of persons or domestic animals; or

(c) the owner did not exercise reasonable precautions to prevent the dog from,

(i) biting or attacking a person or domestic animal, or

(ii) behaving in a manner that poses a menace to the safety of persons or domestic animals. 2005, c. 2, s. 1 (6).

Dog pack behaviour maybe the underlying reason why a muzzle order was issued for all 3 dogs. Often when one member of the pack gets into a fight, and things get heated up and excited the others will join in to help protect that member, this is very common behaviour so in a way it does make sense to issue an order to have all dogs owned by the owner muzzled especially when they are all out together.

Training may help your dog to a point to ignore another dog, but lets the owner of another dog accidently drop the leash or the their dog is on a flexi- leash and it suddenly bolts toward your dog wanting to play. under those circumstances that may be too much that the traiing you've done won't prepare your dog for and he may turn around and attack again. if that happens, they will look at the past incident and that you appealed the muzzle order and say you did not do what was reasonable to prevent a similiar attack which then could result in a order to seize the dog and have it destroyed( the goverment has the option to sell the dog instead to a research lab) you can be issued a $10,000 fine and or 6 months in jail and or ordered to pay restitution, the best case senario would be having an order confining or dog to your property with signs posted.

If your dog had been leashed and muzzled in that same situation then Part 6-6 of the act would offer him protection
6. Precautions taken by the owner to preclude similar attacks in the future.

Most greyhounds have a high prey drive or stronng chase instinct thoiugh they can be intergrated into homes with cats and small dogs, being outdoors and seeing a small animal running can trigger the chase instinct, to them it is just prey then are not going to reason while they are all excited as to whether it is a cat or a dog, Greyhounds are also very competitive when they getting ruuning they want to be in the lead and can get upset if cut off, so fights are not unusual if you get a bunch running together. So when adopted out every new greyhound owner is supplied with a muzzle, to help try to overcome the negative aggressive dog aspect of it, it is promoted as a piece of safety and training equipment, it is used to introduce your new greyhound safely to other pets in your house hold and it is also a tool to protect and allow your grey to have safe fun with other greyhounds when in a large group much like a helmet and faceguard is for hockey players, they can play rough but everyone is protected even if they do have a dispute one in a while.

I have used other styles of muzzles but the greyhound style muzzle is my favorite as it does not absorb moisture & drool like leather and nylon, its design allows the dog to easily pant to cool itself, they can easily drink water and even eat food with it on, with the actual hard plastic ones can throw it in the dishwasher to clean. this site carries a similiar style in a variety of sizes and it lightweight than than the hard plastic ones greyhounds use
I have seen a small number in limited sizes in hard plastic in some pet stores locally

March 12th, 2006, 12:14 PM
Yes you were wrong but are taking measures to correct the behaviour. While the other dogs should not be muzzled you need to fight those especially. I also think that a flexi leash in my opinion is not a leash and most people that use them do not have a clue how they work. I am sick of these little dogs that are on these things run up to my dog and then when he wants to play the owners freak cuz he is so big he is going to eat there dog. I have seen dogs run onto the street while wearing these so called leashes. Good luck

March 12th, 2006, 04:10 PM
Flexi-leashes have also killed small dogs. If the person accidentally lets go and the heavy plastic handle reels back to the little dog and whacks them in the head you can have a dead dog.

March 12th, 2006, 10:38 PM
I note that you are enrolled in obedience training but, I would go further and STRONGLY recommend that you work with a behaviour therapist who specializes in aggression.