“It’s very important to report aggressive dogs and get them taken off the streets to prevent this kind of horrible tragedy”


“Dear PoPville,

We live on Owen Place in Trinidad. Our neighbor got a pit bull a few years back. We just found out that it was trained over the years to fight. About a year ago it jumped another neighbor’s fence and ripped apart a little white dog in just a few seconds while several neighbors watched in horror, unable to do much. The dog was taken by Animal Control but somehow it ended up back at the neighbor’s house.

Last Tuesday evening, two men exited the next-door neighbor’s house with the dog. The dog was not leashed. We were outside on the front porch and our two dogs. The pit-bull started aggressively barking at our dog, climbed over the 42” picket fence and chomped my little rat terrier, Fitzz, around the neck.

We both rushed out to help but couldn’t do much. I was bitten four times and my mother-in-law was bitten once. She was also violently thrown down and hurt her wrist and back. After I realized that I could not overpower the dog I went in and got a baseball bat. I tried to hit the dog but its two handlers blocked my swings and told me to stop hitting their dog. I got a couple of good hits in and the dog released.

At this point there was blood everywhere. I called 911 and in about 10 minutes the police and EMS arrived. Animal control showed up about 10 minutes later. The two men brought the dog back into the house and fled out the back door into the alley. The police and animal control entered the house and took the pit bull into custody.

We took my dog to Friendship Animal Hospital where he was extensively treated. By the next morning we realized his internal bleeding and damage to throat and brain stem were too severe and we had to put him to sleep.

I was told later that this same dog attacked an elderly woman and had killed another dog but that the police weren’t involved in either case.

Dogs can be trained to be dangerous. And they can attack, unprovoked and without warning, even over a fence. I think it’s very important to report aggressive dogs and get them taken off the streets so this kind of horrible tragedy doesn’t happen to another dog or person.”

63 Comment

  • As someone whose dog was attacked and critically injured by a dangerous dog, I just want to say how sorry I am and how much my thoughts are with you and your mother-in-law. I hope you both heal and find peace. Please consider getting counseling if you have panic attacks or trouble sleeping after. You did everything you could.

    +1 to your comments about reporting dangerous dogs. Reporting can keep others safe.

  • This is awful. I’m so furious and sad all at the same time. How they didn’t swing the bat at the owners, I do not know.

  • People are scum. I hope the owners do jail time behind this.

    • Jail time…yeah right. DC MPD doesn’t give 2 craps.

      • Tsar of Truxton

        I guess it is a good thing that DC MPD has no decision-making authority in who gets charged or not charged in DC.

        • Doesn’t MPD have to file a report in order for anyone to be charged, though? (Or is it different in animal-related cases?) We always hear about MPD downgrading various crimes in their reports — like a stolen iPhone is reported as “lost property,” a house break-in is reported as “vandalism,” etc. I get the feeling that MPD has more decisionmaking authority than you’re crediting them with.

      • brookland_rez

        I would come at them with a civil suit. A jury would be far more sympathetic than MPD.

  • How awful. If I had witnessed any of this I would have been compelled to kill the dog myself, on the spot, and deal with the consequences of doing so later. I would then have taken action against the owner (they would be jailed at a minimum). Justice can be elusive in the absence of a primal response.

  • I am so sorry for your loss. Thanks for reminding us that these kinds of attacks need to be reported.

  • This is horrific. I’m so sorry for your loss. I’m not sure what the law is in on this DC, but in other jurisdictions, a judge can bar idiots like this from owning dogs either permanently or for the length of time that probation could be ordered. Thank you for sharing your story and reminding all of us how important it is to report dangerous dogs.

  • I’m a dog lover, but there’s no way that dog should have been released after the first reported incident. I also hope the owners are prosecuted. We need much stronger sentences for those who raise dogs to fight.

    I’m sorry for your loss.

  • Animal Control does everything possible to not harm a vicious dog. My neighbor had 4 pit bulls, one of which jumped over my fence and attacked my dog. Animal Control said that the only thing I could do was to place the dog in an obedience class that had a wait list over a year long. I kept asking them to enforce DC Dangerous Dog laws, but they said they couldn’t.

  • Beyond horrible – I am so sorry.

    I must reiterate how important it is to report bites and attacks to DOH. The last time we were attacked, DOH sent us a brochure that differentiated between Dangerous Dogs and Potentially Dangerous dogs, and what it took for a dog to be placed in each category (sorry I can’t find an online version to share). But the city said it was critical for us to make a report of the incident so they could build a case to remove the dog. Before it is removed, it must be on record as being Dangerous. It was amazing to me what the threshold was – it takes multiple incidents against people and/or other dogs for an animal to be removed.

    • Some people don’t realize every dog gets one free bite essentially. After the first incident, the dog probably couldn’t have been taken away. That is why it’s so important to get everything on the record.

      • There is a world of difference between a viscous attack and a single bite. DC needs to figure that out. If they city knew about the dog and did not enforce the law they could be liable.
        These scum should be doing Michael Vick kind of time.

        • I agree, but unless the law here is drastically different than most everywhere else even one vicious attack couldn’t label a dog dangerous. I just used bite in lieu of attack. That’s unfortunate, but it’s a very hard bright line to decide.

        • Actually with a pit bull, there isn’t. A pit bull’s single bite can often kill a smaller dog immediately. A single bite can be a vicious attack when dealing with a pit bull. Especially one trained to bite to kill. I am generally opposed to breed specific legislation and do not believe that a pit bull is any more dangerous than another dog EXCEPT that its physicality causes greater harm than most other dogs that might attack or bite. But again, that has everything to do with how the dog is raised. Raising a dog to fight plus the purely physical size of a pit bull is a dangerous combination and is why they are popular. And sadly when some are trained to fight and never learn anything else, this is the result. I really feel terrible for everyone involved except the monsters who raised the pit bull. I hope they go to jail, however short it might be.

          I also think because this dog bit two humans in this incident that means there is no question animal control should put it down.

  • So sorry for your loss and the injuries you and your MIL faced 🙁 Hope the dog owners are brought to justice!

  • So sorry for the horror you and your family experienced, and especially sorry for the tragic circumstances under which you said goodbye to your beloved dog. But thank you for taking the time and having the courage to speak out. It’s important to report lots of types of crimes, for all kinds of reasons. This matter illustrates the devastating consequences of not making an official record when a dog has engaged in a violent attack. Hopefully your willingness to share will motivate others to make sure aggressive dogs are brought to the attention of the proper authorities.

    (not safe for work where grown men can’t cry)

  • Anonomnom

    So sorry for your loss, that sounds like a tragic experience. I hope you and your MIL recover from your injuries and the grief you must be feeling :/

    This happened to me as a kid in DC during a snow storm, where a neighbor’s dog ran into our home while we were trying to clear the snow in front of a door and killed one of our cats before we could get him out. I had no idea there was a place you could report such behavior other than the police and Animal Control. Does reporting this kind of aggressive behavior actually get results?

  • I am so sorry for your loss and thank you for sharing your story.
    What is the status of this aggressive dog? This dog really needs to be put down, wasn’t one death enough? One death should easily categorize the dog as dangerous. Or, attacking a human should do it!
    There needs to be some punishment for the owners as well or they will continue to raise aggressive dogs.

  • I’m so sorry this happened to you. Please sue them a lot.

  • I’m so sorry to hear about this. My dog was also attacked and injured by a dog that had 4-5 previously reported attacks on its record, including two against people (my whole story has been posted here before under Capitol Hill). I took my case all the way up to a DC administrative judge after Animal Control wouldn’t act and also testified at a Council oversight hearing. We’re still waiting on the results of my case. But I wanted to share that recently, Animal Control changed their internal rules so that if a dog has a second bite reported against it, then proceedings to take the dog off the streets are automatically started. Before this rule change, even reporting didn’t do much good because Animal Control would only review individual incidents and would not look at previous bites by the same dog, but now they have to after the second bite, so it is very important to report.

  • west_egg

    “Last Tuesday evening, two men exited the next-door neighbor’s house with the dog. The dog was not leashed.”
    Owners who do not leash their dogs should be thrown in jail. Unless you’re in an area where off-leash is explicitly allowed (i.e., an enclosed dog park) there is absolutely no excuse. Zero!

    • HaileUnlikely

      Pitbull is lucky that OP had a baseball bat handy. I don’t have a baseball bat, but I do have a sledgehammer (for masonry work). Those who know me know that I didn’t get it for the purpose of hitting people or animals, but if I or a member of my family (pet counts) were in imminent danger, I wouldn’t hesitate to use it.

      • It’s probably been a Crossfit workout at some point or another, but running with a sledgehammer isn’t very practical 😉 Completely agree that I wouldn’t hesitate to use it if attacked, though.

    • I see this plenty and it really scares me. My coworker got bit last year while running by a supposedly friendly dog just a few feet from its owner. The good news was it was in VA, so the police and animal control immediately took the dog into custody for testing and quarantine, and the dog now has a one-strike record.
      I used to be pretty vocal about firmly but politely asking people to leash their dogs. I’ve pretty much stopped because 99% of the time all I got was hostility in response. People can so be awful.

      • HaileUnlikely

        In my experience few adults take kindly to being “firmly but politely” told to do anything, with a simple “F* you” being on the gentler end of the spectrum of typical responses. Given that the segment of the population we’re talking about here are letting dogs run around without their leash in violation of the law, I wouldn’t necessarily expect a response from the gentler end of the spectrum, either.

  • I forgot to mention something else I learned through my years long process trying to get the dog that attacked my dog to be muzzled and restrained. If anyone is concerned about a dog in their neighborhood, go to the DC FOIA website: http://dc.gov/page/freedom-information-act-foia and request bite records from Animal Control for the dog (you’ll probably need the owner’s name and address to do so) and if there have been at least 2 bites, then you can bring it to the attention of Animal Control and make them start proceedings against the dog. Although the new rule change means they have to prosecute dogs with a second bite report, I doubt they will go back into their records and retroactively do this, but if you bring existing multiple bite reports to their attention, they might do so.

    • Hi Cathy – Thank you for this information. Is there anything else beyond reporting specific dogs that citizens of DC can do proactively to strengthen rules against aggressive dogs and their owners? Supporting anti-dog fighting legislation/policing? Is there not a distinction between bite and kill? First kill seems like reasonable grounds to keep a dog off the streets.

      My neighbor walks around with a baseball bat when she walks her dog. I’ve not resorted to this but my dog hasn’t been attacked twice like hers has and i think about it all the time.

      I am so sorry to hear about the loss of Fitzz. And I am furious at the same time. Please let us know how the search for the men responsible progresses and if there is any pressure needed from the community to ensure their prosecution.

      • Yes, if there’s a kill (or “serious injury” – which is up for interpretation and which I sense has something to do with how much of a fuss the victim wants to make about the injury), then the dog is automatically labeled “Dangerous” which means it must be muzzled, leashed, and can be removed from the owner’s possession if it attacks again. However, if the injury is not serious, then the dog is only labeled “Potentially Dangerous” and it has another opportunity to attack before being labeled “Dangerous” and then another opportunity to attack after that before it gets taken away. I actually don’t have a problem with the laws above. But the problem I ran into, as you can read in detail from the links above, was that Animal Control was not actively pursuing their job as laid out by the law. They had a dog on the record for 5 bites and they still hadn’t even pursued the first step of adjudicating it as “Potentially Dangerous”. The excuse they gave me was “oh we can never get a victim to sign an affidavit or to testify”. But the problem with that is they don’t actually ask the victims to sign an affidavit or testify, and most victims (like me) think that reporting is all they have to do. So I guess I would urge victims who report bites to also at the same time affirmatively state that you want a dog prosecuted and offer to testify or sign an affidavit because Animal Control won’t ask you to do so and then will say that because you didn’t offer to do so, they couldn’t prosecute. There’s also a little sheet you have to sign when you report a bite, so I would even go so far as to write on that sheet “I am willing to testify or sign an affidavit for the prosecution of this dog” so Animal Control can’t use that excuse like they did in my case. For me, because I didn’t know I had to do anything other than report, it took almost a year of me then insisting that I wanted to testify for them to finally prosecute. So if I were to do it again, I would write it on the sheet so there is perfect clarity whose responsibility it is to take the case further.

        • Whoa, good to know: “But the problem with that is they don’t actually ask the victims to sign an affidavit or testify, and most victims (like me) think that reporting is all they have to do. So I guess I would urge victims who report bites to also at the same time affirmatively state that you want a dog prosecuted and offer to testify or sign an affidavit because Animal Control won’t ask you to do so and then will say that because you didn’t offer to do so, they couldn’t prosecute.”
          So just reporting isn’t enough, you have to practically beat down their door and OFFER to testify/sign an affidavit??

    • I Dont Get It

      Thank you for your persistence to insure we all live in a safe environment.

  • Can you please describe the aggressive dog and the two men with it? I live in the neighborhood and would like to be able to steer my dog clear of these terrible people.

    • I second that! I live two blocks from owen and would like to know where NOT to walk my dog.

    • I think the dog is gone for good. It was a red-brown pit. Probably three years old. I cant identify the two men other than middle aged African Americans.

  • So sorry to read about sweet Fitzz, and about what you and your mother-in-law went through trying to save your pup. Sending hugs/

  • Aglets

    I am so sorry for your loss- i can’t imagine how hard that is.

    That said, I can imagine lighting your neighbors on fire. Sorry, but I can.

  • I’m so sorry for your loss….

  • nightborn

    What a horrifying experience. I am so sorry for your poor doggie and everything you’ve been through.

  • Was this dog named Navon?
    Navon has attacked several dogs at Bundy dog park and the owners refuse to get the dog trained or take responsibility for the dogs actions.

    Is there any legal recourse?

  • As a pit bull owner, I hope this does not color your view of the breed – most are sweet, happy-go-lucky pups like it looks that your Fitzz was 🙁
    I am so sorry that this happened to you. He looks like such a sweet adorable pup. I’m glad you went to Friendship, though – unfortunately they have had to put down both of my last two dogs, but they were so respectful and kind and informative with both instances that I would recommend them to anyone.

  • We need to change the laws in DC. Animal control is following laws that are very lax in DC. Often takes three attacks. I would also consider filing a lawsuit against your neighbor. That may be the only way you will any recourse. Write to Council as well.

  • I am so sorry for your loss.

  • Emmaleigh504

    I’m so sorry for your loss. It must have been awful to watch. My cat got attacked by some dogs, and luckily there was a good samaritan who saved her since I wasn’t around. I’m not sure I would be able to save her if I saw it happen. I’m lucky because my cat survived the attack and only had one lasting and not too serious disability from it. I’m so sorry your dog had to be put down.

  • That you haven’t burned down your neighbors house is impressive, honestly. I am unsure I would have that self restraint. So very sorry for your loss.

  • More importantly, report people that can’t handle their dog, don’t keep it on leash, or mis-treat any pets / train them to fight. The dogs can be helped. It’s the people that are breaking the law.

  • This might not be a path you want to take, but have you considered filing a civil law suit against the dogs owner/owner of the house. Both you and you mother in law would have claims for your injuries and the trauma. money cannot replace you pet and I’m sure money is not what you are looking for, but it would make the owner pay a price and perhaps put others on notice.

    • As much as it sucks to say this, I’m not so sure suing your neighbor is a real good way to ensure a long happy life, especially if your neighbor is the type of person who raises a pitbull to fight.

  • As someone who understands pitbulls just have a bad rep as a breed, I still avoid most while walking my dog because unfortunately the cliches are true in this area and many are trained for terrible reasons or not trained at all. There should be something owners and people should be able to do to protect themselves. I’m so sorry for your loss, I don’t know if I’d be able to stay there living near those people. Sending healing thoughts your way!

  • Very sorry for your loss. Not sure what the answer is to this. In a perfect world, those two scumbags would do time. The reality is, though, you won’t be able to sue them because they have no money and are wards of the state already. This perpetual violence angers me because it is the norm for some people out there, and they are likely not disturbed that their killer dog did what it was trained to do. I’d recommend not living around people like this so they can continue to self-destruct, but that doesn’t help the innocent animals who fall into their violent and despicable hands.

  • I’m so sorry for your loss.

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