As you likely know since you are reading this, we were out walking with our dogs on the trail a couple weeks ago when two loose dogs ran up and attacked Shelby and Zekie. Encounter With Loose Dogs, Gone Bad The two ladies who were with the dogs followed us back to the parking lot so we could exchange information. One of the ladies was the owner of the two dogs. She is relatively young. She was very apologetic and took responsibility for the incident. She agreed to cover any veterinary bills incurred.
The next day I took Shelby and Zekie to the vet. Three days after the attack I provided the girl who owned the other dogs with the bill and she sent me a check to cover the expenses on her way home from work that evening. I deposited the check at my bank the next business day. My two wounded warriors are healing nicely and the terrible event is behind us.
Oddly enough, I believe the owner of the other dogs and I are on our way to becoming friends. I chose not to press charges or file a report about the incident since the owner made it as right as she could. I could imagine how I would feel if I were on the other side of what happened. Her two dogs are “bully” breeds, and I did not want to take a chance that they would be put down. I know that if it were me and that happened, I would never recover. Even though they were guilty. And really, it was the owners fault for not keeping her dogs under control.
I have texted with the owner a number of times. She always showed concern about my dogs, saying that she thought about them every day and was sorry that she learned this lesson at the expense of my dogs. She acknowledges that she has learned a huge lesson and will never let her dogs run loose in a public place again. We have stayed in touch and I have gotten to know her better over these weeks and I believe her. It turns out we are both “dog people” whose dogs are our worlds. I look forward to continued contact with her.
I know that the relationship we have is unusual given the circumstances. I was in a position to show her grace. Good will that is not earned. And when it comes down to it, the desired outcome was for her to always keep her dogs leashed when in public. I think this has been achieved.
There were two ways to go about achieving this. The first would have been to get law enforcement involved. I did not want to do that for reasons stated above. Also, we did not know the severity of Shelby’s injuries at the time. The second way was to use this as a teaching experience.
I know I am more likely to change my behavior if someone approaches me kindly and explains things rather than getting in my face and making demands. This gets my hackles up and I want to do the opposite of what is being asked. I do acknowledge that had Shelby died, or suffered permanent debilitating injury, I would not have been inclined to be so kind. I am only human after all. I would have wanted retribution. But mercifully for us all, that was not what happened.
I posted about the attack on social media on the day the attack happened. I took some grief for handling it in the way that I chose. In fact, I received one comment directed towards me for not filing a police report that was particularly venomous. So much so that I took my original post down. I was suffering enough and not ready to deal with projected animosity too. I understand those who suggested contacting law enforcement to file a report. I am not saying that would have been the wrong thing to do here. But it is not what I chose to do. I was also contacted by one person who said that she was in a similar position about 30 years ago. Hers was the attacking dog, a dog that was good tempered and well trained. She said that she learned her lesson that day and has never let any of her dogs run loose since. I thanked her for sharing her story from the other side of the coin. People can learn and change.
In my dealings with the owner of the other dogs, she was nothing but cooperative, remorseful, and honest. She provided me with contact info for her dogs’ vet so I could contact them for proof of rabies shots and she did pay the bills for my dogs as promised. We have exchanged texts since then with her continuing to be remorseful and me saying I forgive her. If she had not shown remorse and taken responsibility, my actions would likely have been different. I don’t think our contact ends here. Maybe there is a purpose to my relationship with her. Given that she has done everything she said she would do during this time, I believe her when she says she will not let her dogs run loose again. It is my hope that I achieved the same outcome as lawful action but in a kinder way.
I wanted to explain the thinking behind the way that I handled this. It may not be the best way in all circumstances, but this time, I think it was. Everyone may not agree, but I hope it is respected. I hope that someone would show me grace if I make such a terrible mistake.