Update on “Dangerous Dog in Cap Hill” that Bit a Toddler and Dog

OP’s dog, Oscar, doing much better today

“Dear PoPville,

Wanted to send one final follow-up which is that the judge ruled in our favor and Arbor the Sheepdog is now officially a “Potentially Dangerous Dog” – which means that if he bites again, he will be designated a “Dangerous Dog” and is also under certain restrictions now as a “Potentially Dangerous Dog” as detailed below:

§ 8-1905. Dangerous dog and potentially dangerous dog owner responsibilities.

It shall be unlawful to:
(1) Keep a potentially dangerous or dangerous dog without a valid certificate of registration issued under § 8-1904;
(2) Permit a potentially dangerous dog to be outside a proper enclosure unless the potentially dangerous dog is under the control of a responsible person and restrained by a chain or leash, not exceeding 4 feet in length;
(3) Fail to maintain a dangerous dog exclusively on the owner’s property except for medical treatment or examination. When removed from the owner’s property for medical treatment or examination, the dangerous dog shall be caged or under the control of a responsible person and muzzled and restrained with a chain or leash, not exceeding 4 feet in length. The muzzle shall be made in a manner that will not cause injury to the dangerous dog or interfere with its vision or respiration, but shall prevent it from biting any human being or animal;
(4) Fail to notify the Mayor within 24 hours if a potentially dangerous or dangerous dog is on the loose, is unconfined, has attacked another domestic animal, has attacked a human being, has died, has been sold, or has been given away. If the potentially dangerous or dangerous dog has been sold or given away, the owner shall also provide the Mayor with the name, address, and telephone number of the new owner of the potentially dangerous or dangerous dog;
(5) Fail to surrender a potentially dangerous or dangerous dog to the Mayor for safe confinement pending disposition of the case when there is a reason to believe that the potentially dangerous or dangerous dog poses a threat to public safety;
(6) Fail to comply with any special security or care requirements for a potentially dangerous or dangerous dog the Mayor may establish pursuant to § 8-1903; or
(7) Remove a dangerous dog from the District without written permission from the Mayor.


(Oct. 18, 1988, D.C. Law 7-176, § 6, 35 DCR 4787; Dec. 5, 2008, D.C. Law 17-281, § 105(e), 55 DCR 9186.)

It’s not much, but it’s something! Hopefully Capitol Hill neighbors can keep an eye out and report to Animal Control if anything else happens.”

50 Comment

  • Just wow. I cannot believe how long this took, and how much had to happen for the process to even begin.

  • phl2dc

    Holy crap at two things:
    1. how long it took for this to get some sort of resolution
    2. how horrible and irresponsible of an owner that woman is

  • This is madness. I have a large dog who is fearful of people and dogs, and given the chance, would bite. I take great pains to make sure she and others are safe in public including voluntarily muzzling her whenever we leave the house. I would be devastated if she managed to hurt a person or another dog. I just can’t understand someone who KNOWINGLY allows her dog with a bite history to attack people and dogs again and again And what’s even more maddening is the authorities refusing to do anything about it until the dog bites someone else- that is insane logic!

  • Biting a toddler and another dog only makes a dog potentially dangerous? Wow. We need a third bite to mark it dangerous? And then what happens on a fourth bite? Is it labelled “really dangerous” then? In my opinion, if a dog bites a person, especially a kid, that one attack should be enough to consider putting it down.

    • Firey hot take there, Ryan

    • What happens it the kid attacks the dog, or shoves its hand in its mouth, or something equally stupid? I used to have a neighbor whose kid liked shrieking at my dog and poking it with a sharp stick. Nothing ever happened, but I wouldn’t have blamed her for snapping at the little sociopath.

    • It isn’t always the dog’s fault, so such an approach would be Draconian. Also, it may be more concerning when a dog bites an adult than a child, as uncomfortable as the thought of a child being bitten might be.

  • Is there a picture of the dog somewhere so we can be on the lookout? It’s kind of hard since the photo with the story is certainly not a sheepdog. Is it an Old English Sheepdog?

  • What kind of Sheepdog? There are several. Was it an Old English Sheepdog? Australian? Spanish?

    • It’s an Old English Sheepdog and the woman’s other dog is a brown standard poodle. There’s a description in the original post.

    • According to the court documents attached to a previous post on the matter, the offending dog is an Old English Sheepdog.

      Definitely not typical behavior of the breed (which is usually pretty happy-go-lucky), but I suppose it’s not out of the question for a herding dog to develop territorial tendencies if not properly socialized. This has been such a sad story from just about every possible perspective, but hopefully this decision by the judge will serve as a wake-up call for the owner to prevent any further incidents.

      • That’s crazy. I have an OES and he is really happy go lucky kind of guy. I’ve never heard of one biting.

        OES dogs actually lean to heard animals and are not biters (like an Australian – which tend to nip). This is really absurd.

        I am sorry this happened.

  • Love pooches, and hate to be a scold, but I walk everywhere and there are too many unleashed dogs nowadays. Couples watched their mastiffs roam free in a sliver of Rock Creek Park I cross; my heart was in my mouth. Terrifying. Dogs outsized the owners. Aren’t more fines being issued? Didn’t I read such-and-such a Popville post?

    • Yeah, a dog owner was complaining about enforcement in Meridian Hill Park not long ago:

      • Do ecollars count? My dog is often “off lease” but I use an ecollar.

        • Nope, ecollars do not count as having your dog leashed. I understand your question. An ecollar allows you to exercise control over your dog even when off-leash; I use one with my dog. Nevertheless, I don’t think that kind of control counts as having your dog “restrained.”

          • I’d argue it does. I’ve seen big dogs pull owners with the leash. Doesn’t sound like much more than I hope this works control in some cases. I have yet to see a dog ignore an e collar longer than a few seconds.

        • I doubt it. And an Elizabethan collar doesn’t stop your dog from jumping on someone or even biting someone; it just limits the biting options somewhat.

        • Wow. There is just so much wrong this I don’t even know where to begin. NO shocking your dog with an electric collar DOES NOT count as on leash!

          • With the amount of times I’ve seen dogs of all sizes pull their owners down the street while choking themselves on a leash, I don’t think being on leash is very secure. See also all those dogs getting loose an running off.
            I have shocked myself on all levels, and I feel comfortable using an e-collar on my dog if needed. I appreciate you don’t, but I’d argue it’s no less secure than a leash.

          • FYI, it is not an opinion that the leash law in DC does not allow a dog owner to substitute an electric collar for a leash. If you don’t have your dog leashed, you are breaking the law.

          • I think you meant to post that above where someone asked. I argued one is no more secure than the other. However, as much as I’d the law to reflect modern tech, I think they should focus on biting and dangerous dogs first. Second chance, sure…third, fourth, etc after numerous off the books complaints is unacceptable.

        • I looked up the regulations. Anon Spock, the regs take into account your concern about dogs pulling their owners — see the last sentence of 900.3.
          900.3 No person owning, keeping, or having custody of a dog in the District shall permit the dog to be on any public space in the District, other than a dog park established by section 9a of the Animal Control Act of 1979, passed on 2nd reading on September 20, 2005 (Enrolled version of Bill 16-28), unless the dog is firmly secured by a substantial leash. The leash shall be held by a person capable of managing the dog.
          900.4 The length of the leash required under § 900.3 shall not exceed four feet (4 ft.).

          • That reg obviously has no teeth, and unless you have the greatest luck in the world, it’ll never be enforced.

          • Well, on the rare occasions when it is enforced, it’s those conditions that are being enforced (dog leashed, leash not longer than 4 feet and held by a person capable of managing the dog).
            Perhaps people should make more of an effort to report unleashed dogs — more enforcement might encourage greater compliance.

          • My issue is dogs on leash without someone capable. I think that would be very hard to prove and get someone arrested. I’ve never been more frightened than when I saw a teenager being dragged toward me by 2 100+lb dogs. My dog immediately tried to defend me, and we were able to get away without injury. Thank goodness!

  • I am a dog owner and lover, but people should keep their pets leashed. What particularly irks me is when dog owners around the Hill walk down the sidewalk with the dog wandering either ahead or behind, unleashed. I have a large and sweet dog, but he gets understandably defensive when approached by an unleashed dog (probably thinking “why is this guy free, but I’m constrained?!?!”). Please be responsible and leash your dogs! It has nothing to do with whether your dog is nice/mean, trained/crazy. It’s just polite.

    • AMEN. (Cap Hill dog person here. Pup is always on leash, for his safety and for the safety of other dogs and humans.)

    • I have a neighbor that does this. The dog looks like he’d be perfectly content on a leash (not like my dogs who pull so much I get wrist pain from it), so why not follow the law and common decency and put a leash on him? I don’t get it.

      • Pronged collars might help. I’ve found plastic works better than metal.

        • The “gentle leader” harness has been extremely effective for our dog. He’s close to 100 pounds, and he had a tendency to pull a bit too much or get distracted. The gentle leader gives you control over the dog’s head, which controls where its body goes and where it focuses its attention. Plus, used correctly, it is not uncomfortable at all for the dog. It takes some training to get a dog used to it, but it is well worth the effort.

          • I’ve never found those to be any more effective than a regular collar.

          • +1 on the leader. Or, a harness that has more padding around the body. One of my dogs gets a bit skittish near busy streets (we live on one, so it’s unavoidable to a certain extent), but we just got him a new harness that sort of hugs him a bit, and his pulling, regardless of where we are, has drastically decreased.

          • I took a Humane Society class on leash skills a few years ago, and they claimed that harnesses are the worst possible thing for controlling a dog (Gentle Leader was supposedly the best). I think it depends a lot on the dog.

        • Eh, the pulling is just the cost of having spunky terriers. My point is, someone like me might have a selfish reason for not using a leash. I’m not sure what reason someone with a calm, slow dog would have for it.

          • Is this a spunky terrier thing? I would so love that to be true and it not just be that I’m a bad dog mom.

          • *”Is PULLING on the leash a spunky terrier thing,” not “is wandering around off-leash a spunky terrier thing” because I agree that’s just a selfish thing

          • Well that’s what I tell myself anyway 😉

          • To let the dog chill out. The pullers are exactly the dogs I want on leash. They’re more likely to run up to other dogs and wander off, imo. I think it would fine if people did it with only the calmest, well behaved dog, during off peak hours/areas, and leashed when other dogs passed. A guy was running his dog ahead of me. When he saw my dog, he leashed immediately, and didn’t unleash until we were well ahead. I’m totally fine with that.

    • Also, the retractable leashes are almost as bad. If your dog is 15 feet away from you, you do NOT have control over it. My dog goes nuts barking when she meets other dogs on the street, and I understand that’s my problem and my responsibility, so I keep her on a very short leash and am hyper aware of anybody approaching. (She weighs 15 pounds; I’m not talking about a Newfie or shepherd here). But I can’t keep your dog and my dog separated or maintain a wide enough berth if your dog’s space has a 30-foot diameter. I suppose retractable leashes are better than no leash at all, but not by much!

  • I will not hesitate to kick any dog that is off leash and becomes aggressive with my leashed dog (like the one that attacked my dog). You can’t stop an aggressive dog by yelling or pulling a collar. Kick the dog if it is attacking. I know, I know, I love dogs too, but seriously, the dog will be fine.

    • I’d do far worse if I had to. That’s the price the owner pays for not taking precautions with an aggressive dog. If I hear barely a rumble from my dog (nice but fickle at times, never bit), I’m crossing the street or going another way. No point in being stupid.

  • Note that the OP had to go to quite a bit of effort to get this dog classified as “potentially [!!] dangerous.” Just reporting it wasn’t sufficient; she had to actively pursue the classification. This is really important — see the OP’s comment in a previous thread:
    From http://www.popville.com/2015/06/its-very-important-to-report-aggressive-dogs-and-get-them-taken-off-the-streets-to-prevent-this-kind-of-horrible-tragedy/#comment-980462 :
    “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.”

  • OMG-I read this article and went back to the original thread and my heart just stopped. I was attacked & bitten by this sheep dog in 2011 walking from the restaurants on 8th street to my apartment on East Capitol. The sheep dog lunged at me, unprovoked, riling up the poodle and the woman was splayed on the ground from the tug. I had to calm myself down to not heighten the situation since she could not control her dogs. I was too scared to stay and obtain any of her information, as she clearly could not maintain control of them, so I limped home. The bite punctured my skin in my thigh and I got a tetanus shot that week and carried the bill around for when I would see her again. I did-months later, near Eastern Market, and shirked away b/c she had both dogs and I didn’t want anything to happen again. She also told me she typically did not walk these dogs together since they are so large and that this never happens. I was scared of large dogs for quite some time afterwards. I cannot believe this happened again. I have emailed the animal control investigator handling this case and added my testimony, along w/ supporting pictures of my injuries. Although it happened years ago, there is clearly a precedent and the fact this woman is still making excuses for her dogs she can’t control that are now going after children and other dogs is unacceptable.

    • Jesus. Who is this terrible dog owner and how does she live with herself?

      • I’m surprised I’ve never seen this dog; I’ve lived at 8th and Independence for more than 4 years and I’m out and about a lot. I definitely won’t hesitate to report it if I see it off leash!

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