Help, Living Next Door to Aggressive Dogs in Brightwood Park

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“Dear PoPville,

My neighbors have three dogs, two of which are very aggressive. The two aggressive dogs were able to escape from under their back fence last night and attacked another dog. The dog that was attacked was being walked by his/her owners. I didn’t see the attack, but apparently some other neighbors came over to help. My neighbor was able to round up his two aggressive dogs and brought them inside his house.

Police responded to the attack immediately; however, when the police came and tried to talk to my neighbors, they refused to answer their door. They keep their curtains drawn at all times and never answer the door to police. Animal Control showed up as well, but my neighbors still refused to open the door.

I am nervous living so close because I have small children and I don’t want them attacked by these aggressive dogs if they get out again. I also don’t want to be attacked. Nothing is stopping them from escaping again.

What can be done in this situation? I have contacted the police and Brandon Todd’s office and am hoping for help. Are there laws requiring secure fences?”

40 Comment

  • You don’t even need to justify your concern by worrying that the dogs could bite your child. They’re a concern now; animal control needs to acquire and verify vaccination records for the dogs to ensure they aren’t a risk to transmit rabies to the dog they bit, who could then in turn bite other animals or people. I would be surprised if they stopped after being turned away at the door the first time, but you can always follow up if you’re concerned. The Washington Humane Society runs animal control for the district, and everyone I’ve ever spoken to there has been super-accommodating and helpful.

  • anonymouse_dianne

    You could try calling Wash Humane and ask for Scott Giacoppi – he’s been attending the No Kill conferences, and knows that these dogs are prime candidates to bite some one. You also can contact Dogs Deserve Better – they work on rehoming dogs like this that are kept in a yard and not in the home. They are a tad nutty but WTF.

  • DC has dog laws, including a designation for “Dangerous Dogs.” You can read up a little more here, but I think ultimately you need to get these dogs designated as Dangerous Dogs under the statute. The owner is then subject to stricter requirements re: containment and can be fined if they are not in compliance.

    I’m not sure how you get the Dangerous Dog determination, though. I would ask the humane society or the police at a PSA meeting.

  • Have you spoken with the owners? If not, it’s worth a shot. Let them know your concerns, both you/kids and the public, as well as your “concern” for the owners’ pets. A good non confrontational conversation can go a long way.

    • I know this is the usual solution proposed for “my neighbor won’t cut their grass” to “my neighbor has loud parties”…but this is a different situation. I can not imagine any way a conversation conveying “1. I’m afraid for my children’s safety and 2. I worry you’re a bad pet-parent” comes across as anything but confrontational. If you have Jimmy Carter-esq skills and can pull it off, get of luck.

    • DC CapHill

      People that refuse to answer the door for the Police and Animal Control and instead hole-up with the curtains drawn, do now sound like the “let us have a reasoned discourse” type to me, but some form of communication with them is probably the advisable first step before involving the authorities.

      Sad because it’s often not solely the animal’s fault, but you can’t continue to live in fear.

    • Has anyone successfully done this in a situation like this one? This is more serious than if the issue were, say, neighbors playing music loudly or never mowing their lawn.
      I’m not meaning to be a wet blanket, but I wonder how likely it is that neighbors who don’t open the door to police or to Animal Control are going to be willing to engage with the OP.

      • +1 it’s too late to try and talk with the neighbors. let animal control & the police deal with it. encouraging the people whose dog was attacked to file the appropriate reports and keep on top of animal control to do everything possible to keep the neighborhood safe is the way to go.

      • Agreed. If they aren’t going to open their doors to the police or animal control they’re not going to listen to a concerned neighbor. I would also be very hesitant to knock on someone’s door after seeing/hearing that their dogs are aggressive and violent.

    • Did you read the description of the owner? I don’t think he wants to sit down and discuss community concerns about his dangerous attack dogs.

  • I hope things have changed since 2011, which was when I had to deal with Animal Control. My neighbor’s dog jumped into my yard and attacked my dog. Animal control said that all they could do was to make sure their vet records were up to date and place them on a list for training. I contacted so many offices and spoke with so many people. No had the authority to enforce the Dangerous Dog Law. After a year and a half of living in fear, Animal Control picked them up to take them to training and determined they were too vicious to train and put them down.

  • So my question(s) is would be is this all you have to do to get away from illegal activity in DC? Just don’t answer your door and keep the curtains drawn? This can’t be the end of this right? I’d imagine they’d go back with a warrant? no more questions.

    • Yes, to get away with illegal activity, either don’t answer your door/keep curtains drawn OR speed away on a motorbike. Both work quite well!

  • I would love a more specific location so I know where to avoid. I live in Brightwood Park and I walk my dog through the neighborhood daily. Mostly between New Hampshire and Kansas, but we occasionally venture further west.

  • I’m so sorry this happened. I live in Brightwood Park and walk my dog daily. This is very concerning to me. My dog is 11 and he’s been attacked twice by off-leash dogs – it was horrifying on both occasions and I’m always vigilant. Is it possible to find out where this occurred? I would like to avoid that area…Thanks.

  • The Brightwood Park Citizens Association meets the first Monday of each month at Emery Rec Center (Room 200) at 7pm. All neighbors are invited to come, discuss issues, and help solve neighborhood issues like this one. Because of the Labor Day holiday I am not sure when September’s meeting will be (either Tuesday 9/8 or Monday 9/14). Check the Facebook page for updates!

  • I just had a similar situation. My next door neighbor’s dog bit someone. I’m cordial with them but decided to get a five foot wood fence, tall enough so the dog can’t get over it. Not cheap but so worth it. Good luck.

  • I really hate to say it but you might want to consider moving. I have an extremely bad neighbor. Not this precise problem but I’ve seen horrifying stuff. After years working a variety of avenues, I’ve concluded there’s little that can be done about what someone opts to do on their own property. It’s not right but it’s the way it is around here. Absent that, maybe go to your ANC or the MPD for ideas (in addition to everything else people suggested).

  • If you raise this to Animal Control, they are required to followup. my cat got badly bitten by a stray last year — reported to Animal Control (because my cat got treated at their clinic) — they called and stopped by several times, leaving urgent notes, until I let them in to see that my cat was alive and well.

  • KRPaDerp

    Nice to meet you, “neighbor”! I am actually the owner of the dog who was attacked. It was definitely a scary situation. That being said, it could have been so much worse because thank goodness there were two of us walking my pup so I took Duke away while my boyfriend had the pit bull pinned. The frustrating part is that we showed animal control the puncture wound in Duke’s side, but I don’t have faith that anything is going to come of this. The owners would not answer the door, the dogs had no collars, and their dogs are aggressive to humans and animals. Yet we’re the ones left with an injured dog, vet bills, two weeks of medicine, and a 10-day in-home quarantine.
    Animal control has to come “inspect” my dog again in 10 days, so perhaps I’ll have more information then. In the meantime, I am terrified to walk my dog anywhere near that house (which is inconvenient since I live right near them). I just wish I knew how to hold them accountable…

    • First, I am so sorry. I can’t imagine how scary that must have been. Those dogs are scary to look at, let alone fight off your own dog!

      Second, I sent an email to a local listserv to see if I could connect with you so I’m so glad you posted here. I want to keep on this case because honestly there is nothing stopping the dogs from escaping again. If you’d like to connect and work with me to figure out how to best deal with these neighbors and their dogs, perhaps you could email Prince of Petworth and he could connect us? I don’t want to post my email here, but I bet Dan (the Prince!) could share my email with you.

      I also have some other neighbors ready to help fight this situation, so the more the merrier.

      • KRPaDerp

        They are definitely frightening dogs! I am very happy to work together on this. I just emailed Dan, the Prince himself, to see if he can connect us. I’m glad to hear people are willing to help!

  • If you see/know the guardian of the dog who was attacked, please make sure she knows to report this to the Dept of Health. They are actually the ones who keep such records and follow up on quarantine issues related to dog bites. My dog was attacked a few years ago three blocks from this site and the DOH was extremely helpful.

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