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“the dog was hanging from a tree branch from his mouth and again making just the most terrible noises”

by Prince Of Petworth April 29, 2016 at 1:30 pm 84 Comments


“Dear PoPville,

I witnessed a rather disturbing event yesterday evening (April 28) on the 700 block of Morton Street NW. From inside the house I was at, I heard multiple gut wrenching howls seeming to come from a dog. I go outside and notice on the sidewalk at the middle of the block a man with two pit bulls – one of which appeared to be hanging from a tree. The dog was howling in pain and I couldn’t really see what was going on but the noises the dog made were definitely ones of pain. I proceeded to take a small video clip from afar (did not want to approach this man and the pit bulls). A screen shot is attached (grainy- but you can see the dog standing/hanging upright on the right). I spoke with two others that passed by and witnessed this going on and apparently the owner of the dog was teaching the dog to “prune the branches of the tree”. I have no idea what the hell that means, but the dog was hanging from a tree branch from his mouth and again making just the most terrible noises.

I called Washington human society to report this incident as to me this didn’t seem like any ordinary training one should do with their dog. Being later in the evening, I was only able to give my version of what happened to a girl who answered phones after hours. She said that someone will follow up with me immediately but I have not heard back as of this email.

My question – to whom should this type of incident be reported to? I can’t get the sounds/sight of this poor dog out of my head.

Advise is appreciated.”

  • textdoc

    There’s a 24-hour number for Animal Control’s law enforcement division, which handles reports of cruelty to animals: (202) 723-5730.

    • Trison

      Thanks, textdoc, putting this in my phone now.

    • Timebomb

      I’m not sure if this number would lead to any different results. Washington Humane Society is responsible for DC Animal Care and Control law enforcement. This line might be the same one OP called or reach someone in the same room.
      I’m not sure what OP expects? There’s a video and a record of what happened, but there’s basically nothing to tie the crime to a person or home, so there’s unfortunately nothing that can be done here.

      • textdoc

        The OP asked: “My question – to whom should this type of incident be reported?” I was answering her question (and also providing the number for others’ benefit, as this question comes up in PoPville from time to time).
        It’s dispiriting that the OP talked to someone at WHS who told her that someone would follow up with her “immediately”… and then nothing happened. The OP could try calling the 24-hour Animal Control number directly, in case the WHS phone person somehow didn’t relay the information to WHS’s Animal Control people.

      • Chris Morrison

        I guess I don’t agree with D.C. laws, here in Charlotte, torturing and hanging a dog from a tree merits animal abuse charges.

  • WTF

    911. This is animal cruelty, which is illegal

  • JMR

    This is heartbreaking. Thank you textdoc for providing the 24-hour number to Animal Control. I hope I never have a need to use it!

  • dclocal

    This is heartbreaking. I would also recommend calling 911 if you are actually witnessing the abuse so that they can dispatch a team to respond. Additional information on how to respond can be found here: http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/abuse_neglect/tips/cruelty_action.html

  • RC

    This is a classic sign of a dog being trained to fight. People will force their dogs to hang from tree limbs to “strengthen their jaws”. Please call the Washington Humane Society ASAP (202-576-6664) and report what this man is doing. These dogs are being abused and are in danger. http://m.humanesociety.org/issues/dogfighting/tips/dogfighting_action.html

    • INWDC

      Wow, that is f’d up. The things humans do to other creatures…

    • Trison

      That crossed my mind as I was reading the post, thanks for confirming. What is also worrisome is that this individual was brazen enough to do this in public while it’s still light out. They must not fear the cops/want to intimidate others/be slightly more depraved than the average dog fighter.

      • Cassie

        Considering that no one called 911, they were right not to fear the cops.

        • Duponter

          THIS. Call the cops right now and report it. Don’t wait. People should become comfortable with realizing that if you don’t call the cops immediatey, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still do it. Do it right now. Report this.

          • Anonymous


    • mpt

      Yes – when I lived in Brooklyn back in the mid-90s, I would regularly see groups of guys with their pitbulls in Ft. Greene Park. They would hang a rope from a tree branch and attach something to the rope for the dog to bite. Then they’d push the dog around like a teatherball, forcing it to hang from the tree using nothing but the grip of its jaw. It was sickening. I called animal control multiple times. I even approached the guys and was told that they were training them to fight. And to mind my own business!

  • dave

    i wonder if it was the same 3 guys are saw the other night training their pit bull on sherman/morton. 1 guy was on a bike dragging something while the other guy was following with the dog to have him chase it. these pieces of trash disgust me.

  • say what

    animal control and humane society arent going to do much. The recent incident of the Pit attacking another dog and its owner–nothing? the pitbull is back at the house and kept either caged or chained up pretty much 24 hours a day. Occassioanlly it escapes. Animal control is required to post notification on the house and notify adjoining neighbors about the presence of a dangerous dog. Pitbulls in DC are a menace. I love dogs, and I think Pit bulls can be great pets but not in DC. Its a matter of time before a child is killed. We have been trying to get CM nadeau to strengthen DC laws against violent dogs. And she has been silent. And useless as always. If the issue isn’t getting more low income housing then she is way out of her depth.

    • textdoc

      I think Animal Control may have more power in cases of dogfighting and animal cruelty than they do in cases of dangerous dogs or animal neglect.

    • transplanted

      Pitbulls in DC are a menace. I love dogs, and I think Pit bulls can be great pets but not in DC. Its a matter of time before a child is killed.
      That doesn’t make any sense. A pit bull doesn’t magically become a fighting dog when it crosses the border of the District. Pits aren’t a menace, guys who train animals to fight are a menace. This guy has video evidence of that happening, and hopefully this dog can be removed and rehomed before its training progresses too far, or it’s injured or killed.

      • SparklyKittyTacos


      • get real

        given how many pitbulls are in DC shelters, clearly there is a “market” for dog fighting in DC specifically say compared to Loudoun County. Ban the breed. Or have tougher laws that make owners criminally responsible. How many owners of fighting dogs actually do jail time? What about putbulls that attack other people? The dogs are returned. What about making it against the law to leave a dog outside 24 hours a day chained up? until DC wants to get serious about safety, its too dangerous to have a breed that dangerous in a densly populated area.

        • ***

          I could be wrong, but a lot of times the shelters are full of Pit Bulls because so many areas / apartments / etc have banned the breed, when really the correct course of action would be to ban/punish the owners who are training and/or neglecting their dogs, who as a result become “a menace.” Every Pit Bull I have know has been a the gentlest dog you would ever meet… because they all have fantastic owners who were deserving of owning a pet. Any breed can be dangerous in the wrong hands.

          • textdoc

            I don’t think shelters are full of pits because of breed bans (though it would certainly be a contributing factor)… it probably reflects the fact that pits are perhaps D.C.’s most popular dog breed, and that a lot of people who perceive

          • textdoc

            … that a lot of people who perceive a dog as a home security system rather than a “family member” favor pits, PLUS people who want a ferocious dog and/or a dog to use in fighting go for pits.
            Basically, 1) pits are popular and 2) bad dog owners are drawn to pits.

          • wdc

            Also, the people who fight dogs are probably not overly concerned with proper veterinary care, ie, spaying and neutering.

        • transplanted

          given how many pitbulls are in DC shelters, clearly there is a “market” for dog fighting in DC specifically say compared to Loudoun County.
          This is bad reasoning. I mean, your comment is badly reasoned start to finish, but this is especially flimsy.

        • J

          Is this a dog whistle comment? These pit bulls are super predators?

      • Jill

        Why only DC? I’ve heard several stories of people or their pets being attacked by pit bulls in VA and MD.

      • Mark

        We’ve rescued 2. They are 2 of the gentlest dogs I have ever met. The thing about pits is that they are incredibly smart and would do anything to please their owners. If their owner wants them to swim and fetch a ball, they will do that. If the owner wants them to snarl and attack other people or fight a dog to the death, they will just as happily oblige. It’s not the dog, it’s the a-hole who owns it.

    • NH Ave Hiker

      Pitbulls in DC are not a menace. I have a pitbull mix who is absolutely the sweetest dog you will ever meet, and she wouldn’t hurt a fly. It’s not fair to generalize like that because of some jerk owners.

      • abc

        It is fair. There are characteristics inherent in that breed that make it dangerous. You may have a “sweet” dog, but if that dog bites somebody (and even sweet dogs do) that dog’s bite is lethal. That is dangerous and a menace.

        • NH Ave Hiker

          There are plenty of other dog breeds who are dangerous, aggressive, and strong. Why not just ban all dogs? I hate that people act like pits are the only dogs that are strong or large in size.

          • ***

            This. Dalmatians, for instance, are fairly aggressive and mean dogs, but thanks to the Disney movie, people think they will make good pets. I used to live next door to 3 of the meanest golden retrievers you will ever meet. Our dog, who could honestly could have cared less interacting with any other dog in the world, would go into protect-my-master mode anytime a golden retriever came near.

        • SEDC

          This is not only ignorant it is wrong. You do know that “most” common dog breeds are around because they were bred for either protection or hunting correct? American Staffordshire Terrier’s, or what most people call “Pit Bulls”, get a bad name due to their terrible owners. Most dog breeds that are around still are around due to doing something exceptionally well, such as hunting, protection, herding, etc. If we want to start banning “dangerous” dog breeds then say bye bye to German Shepards, Mastifs, Great Danes, Rhodesian Ridgebacks (bred to fight LIONS), Saint Bernards, Bulldogs, Akita’s, and Boxers just to name a few. What we REALLY need is more strict punishments for people who abuse these animals.

          • anon101

            The problem here is the horrible owners who train their pits to fight and treat them like garbage, NOT the poor pits who are treated like garbage.

    • Proud Pit Mom

      Strengthen laws against violent dogs?

      How about we strengthen laws against people who perpetuate violence against dogs?

      You clearly have no first hand experience with pitbulls. As the proud human of a rescued pit, I am infuriated by comments like yours. My dog, who is now a registered therapy animal, spent the first year of her life in an abusive situation being used as a bait dog. She was surrendered to the Humane Society, and is one of the sweetest, most social dogs I’ve ever had the pleasure to know.

      Your comments and obvious ignorance only fuel the terrible reality of the lives of many of these fantastic animals. No dog, regardless of breed, is born to fight. Pitbulls are strong, easy to train, and loyal to their humans- that’s why they are now used for fighting.Historically they were referred to as “nanny dogs” and common family pets particularly because of their love and protectiveness of children.

      Because of mindsets like yours, these animals are “outlawed” in counties, cities, states, and buildings making it even more difficult to find them loving homes. How you can write commentary and blame a dog for behavior that you even acknowledge is the result of abuse is literally beyond me.

      • get real

        I think everyone agrees that the owners are too blame. Which is why all of you who own awesome pits should be the first ones to be lobbying for tougher laws. If you don’t want to blame the breed, then make sure that the owners are held accountable. My neighbor is a grown man and he and his large dog were viciously attacked in Park View. it was in the Post a month ago. the dog is known in the neighborhood for being viscious, and escaping from the house. Animal control has since returned the dog, failed notify neigbhors or put signs up on the house about a dangerous dog. Zero penalties to the owners. All you pit lovers should be the first ones lobbying DC Council to change the laws.

        • HaileUnlikely

          Agreed. I have a neighbor who has been incarcerated numerous times for violent assaults on police officers, various acquaintances, and even members of his own family. He got a pit bull a few months ago. The dog has not caused any harm yet (and incidentally the dog has been in the care of his mom and grandparents [honest to goodness good people – I have absolutely no beef with them whatsoever] while he has been back to jail), but somehow, I don’t have a good feeling about this one.

    • Anna Bayes

      I own a pit in DC and he is a great dog. Owning a pitbull in a city is irrelevant. There are good owners and bad owners, no matter where you live. This guy happens to be a bad owner. Remember, it is not the breeds fault, its the people who own them. If you notice ANY dog chained and caged up for 14 hours a day, call the humane society, call animal control, don’t just complain about it on a open forum. BTW I have small children and our pit would never hurt them. Pitbulls were the original nanny dogs, they protect, that is what they do. Your post places blame on all Pitbulls when this clearly is a isolated incident. We adopted our Pit from the humane society, and from a abusive situation and he does not fit into any categories you have detailed. Please stop lumping all Pits into this stereotype. Unfortunately, some fall into this stereotype but not all. Be informed.

      • HaileUnlikely

        I agree with the vast majority of what you say, however, having a rogue owner training dogs to fight in the middle of a dense urban area is very different for the community than if he was out in the middle of a 100-acre lot in the middle of rural Montana where the nearest neighbor is a 10-minute drive away.

      • ACP


      • A

        My dog is part pit, and I know some great pits, but I think the rainbow painting that so many do about the breed is misleading. These can be very powerful dogs and there are some that do have severe reactivity/aggression issues, and it’s not always caused by abusive owners. My neighbor loves her dog to bits and he is not caged for long periods, but I think it’s only a matter of time before he kills another dog or maims or even kills a human. He is terrifying.

        • NH Ave Hiker

          You could argue that any dog breed could have aggression issues.

          • HaileUnlikely

            Well, um, yeah, you could. I am quite frankly less interested in whether my neighbor’s corgi or chihuahua has aggression issues, though.

          • A

            Any dog regardless of breed can have aggression issues, but most aren’t as physically powerful as pitbulls. Large muscular torsos, low centers of gravity, incredibly powerful jaws.

            Some pits are the essential nanny dogs. (My part pit is the biggest baby you will ever meet..) But when we spread the idea that all pits are great, sweet nanny dogs, you get a lot of inexperienced owners adopting pits that they are not prepared to handle. Some of these dogs need incredible amounts of exercise and their owners don’t give them even half of what they need. Many — not all, but many — need an experienced dog handler. When you have unprepared people adopting these dogs, it’s often a bad fit, and either the dog ends up returned to the shelter or you have a pit with serious emotional and/or behavior problems.

    • SWDC

      My dog got attacked and I ended up getting bit back in 2013, it took Animal COntrol and the police 8 months to actually seize the animal from the owners. In the meantime, it attacked and but 2 other dogs and another dog owner.

      Even after all that, DC was going to let the owner’s keep it as long as they complied with the “Dangerous Dog” requirements.

      The DC Council badly needs to bring DC’s animal control law into the 21st century.

  • stacksp
  • I had no idea this was a dog fighting training thing.
    I took my dog to the dog park on 11th and Park last week and on the way there we stopped in the little grassy triangle where Park, NH, and Sherman come together. Part of a tree/large shrub had been torn apart and there was some blood. I figured it was a person being an idiot, but then we got to the park and this guy, he’s a tall thin dude, was there with the pit in the picture and he was talking to another guy about the tree training. I asked if that was the bush/tree I saw and he said yes and really played down the blood (the dog wasn’t bleeding when I saw it.)
    I had no idea why anyone would do that, he seemed like a weird dude, but the dog was behaving well and I didn’t want to ask a lot of questions. Had I known this was a dog fighting thing I may have reacted differently.
    I also *just* saw this guy with 2 pits right by Alfies. Ugh, that’s awful. At least the dogs look healthy.

    • textdoc

      Whoa — so the guy took this dog that he was training to fight other dogs to a dog park?!? Yikes.

      • Yeah. Oddly the dog was super happy and well behaved.

    • Anony

      Saw the same guy on the corner of Alfies today. Scumbag

  • nosey neighbor

    The photo is not super clear but this guy looks like the same guy who I saw outside my window in the alley behind Shepherd and Georgia two nights ago (Wednesday). I heard dogs barking and when I looked out the window he was untying 3 pitbulls from our fence. His tone and manner towards the dogs was on the aggressive and it made me suspicious (as in, who talks to their pet like that?). I left the window and came back and he had moved the 2 dogs to another fence and took the third dog somewhere. He was gone for an unusually long period of time (I would never leave a pet tied to a fence for fear of it being stolen) – about 10 or 15 minutes – and I wondered if he was just going to abandon the other two. But finally he came back without the third dog (no idea what he did with it) and took the other two away. I did get some photos but they’re not great since it was dark (around 9 or 10pm). Please keep a look out for this guy (tall, skinny, lanky, african american, hoodie and jeans).

    • nosey neighbor

      I didn’t get a good look at the third dog but one dog was chocolate and white, the other was tan and white. Both seemed very sweet.

      • textdoc

        Poor pups. :(

      • k

        Makes me wonder if dog fights are going on in a basement around you somewhere.

      • nosey neighbor

        I just called and reported this guy to the Washington humane society so if anyone else has seen him, please do the same!

        • I called and told them what I saw too, they’re going to have an officer call me back.

  • Shawnnnnnn

    I am generally against breed banning for the reasons many express – that it is more about the training of a dog than anything else. That said, there is a reason pit bulls are the breed trained for dog fighting. They are really strong, powerful dogs that can kill pretty easily compared to most other breeds. To me, that is the reason why a breed ban would make sense, if anything. It isn’t because it is something inherently dangerous about their demeanor so much as when they are trained to be dangerous, they are very dangerous.

    This issue persists because of the overbreeding by fight dog owners. These are not pets, they are an income. If you own a pit bull or pit bull mix, be very careful with your dog. People steal them to use as dog fighting bait. And if you happen to have an unspayed female, that’s a money maker as a breeder.

    Honestly people like this make me ill. The thought of it makes me infuriated.

  • timmyp2353

    I wish Pitbulls were like the rapper/Dj, I wouldn’t scared of them then.

    • Allison

      I kind of want to get a pitbull just so I can name it Fireball.

  • abc

    You people defending pit bulls as a breed are ignorant. I’m sorry, but I have a huge problem with this attitude. It’s one thing if you want to own one and you realize they are more dangerous and lethal than other dogs and take major precautions as a result. It’s another thing when you walk that dog around town like it’s a chihuahua. So many bad dog owners live in this city, and many of you are as dangerous as this jerk training pits to kill. All it takes is one kid to startle your sweet precious snowflake of a pit bull and that kid is dead. You don’t walk around with loaded gun, don’t walk around with a pit bull like it’s totally normal. It’s antisocial behavior.

    • NH Ave Hiker

      Do some research yourself. Pit bulls (which, btw, is a generic term referring to “American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, Bull Terriers, American Bulldogs, and any dogs made up of or resembling these breeds”) are no more “dangerous and lethal” than any other large dog, such as a German Shepherd, etc.

    • Peoplearetheworst

      You have no idea what you’re talking about. ANY DOG CAN BE DANGEROUS if it is big enough to do damage. Pits are extremely sweet tempered when raised as pets. They are not more aggressive than other breeds, they are just stronger. My large dog has no pit anywhere in his lineage and I have to watch his surroundings closely in the city because he is leash reactive, especially to other dogs, while off leash he loves everything and everyone. My neighbors’ pit (a recent rescue from WHS) is bigger than my dog but is the kindest, gentlest, most patient dog I’ve ever met – he’s wonderful with children, puts up with my asshole dog jumping on his head, and generally just wants nothing more than to put his head in your lap and get pets and kisses. Pit bulls are only more dangerous when they’ve been trained to be, and they are trained to be because they are very strong. Owning a pit as a responsible caring dog owner is exactly the same as owning any other dog, except for having to deal with dumbass people like you.

  • mdtodc

    The thought of dog fighting breaks my heart. If I ever see anything like this I am definitely calling the number posted by textdoc 2027235730.

  • Anonymous

    Pitbulls may not be inherently dangerous but they are responsible for a disproportionate number of the total number of attacks by dogs in a given year, and their attacks are way more likely to result in serious injury or death. They are strong powerful dogs.
    I am sure that the majority of pit bull owners are responsible. But most of the folks I see walking with them in Park View where I live appear to be barely in control of their dogs. Either they are deliberately giving the dog a long leash to intimidate other people or they barely have the strength to hold on to the dog. The other day I saw a girl who was elementary school age at best walking a medium size pit bull. If that dog had decided to bolt on her, there would have been nothing she could have done. Anybody or any dog who got attacked by the that dog would have been on their own.

  • Finn1210

    This wasn’t posted for everyone to express their feelings on pitbulls.

    BOTTOM LINE- this POS is torturing animals and needs to be arrested (among other things). Its illegal. Call 911. Call Animal Cruelty. And if you really care, follow up. We need to get these people off of our streets, and more importantly, these poor animals into the hands of people who care.

    • Anonymous

      +1. Please call police and humane society whenever you see this.

  • Anon

    I know the guy and he doesn’t fight his dogs. He does train his dogs to do tasks and, yes, this particular task is also often used with fighting dogs. He is actually a big advocate against fighting and bias against pit bulls. Next time you see him go ask him about his dogs and see the dogs up close for yourself – don’t call 911 right away.

    • Anonymous

      And who is this? Sorry, but you don’t “train” dogs via the use of torture. Call police always- trust your gut.

      • SWDC813

        Agree 100%. No form of training should ever involve what he is doing to these dogs. Anyone witnessing this should call the police/animal control. No exceptions.

    • HaileUnlikely

      Please forgive me for my obvious cranial density: what task does this train them to do?

    • anon

      Better to call Animal Control and let THEM decide.

    • anon

      definitely call 911 and stay away from this psychopath.

    • Nathan

      Please enlighten us as to what task this training technique prepares these dogs for.

    • Trees

      It’s a crime to destruct public property! Aka the street trees. Call 911.

  • NW animal know it all

    This dog is being trained to fight. WHS has a Humane Law Enforcement division. There is nothing to act on purely from this, but there is enough to monitor, and they will.

  • SWDC

    Why are people here so hesitant to just CALL THE POLICE?

  • Doron Petersan

    It’s not about the breed. If it’s not bully-breeds, it’s German Shepherds, Dobermans, or Mastiffs. A breed ban has yet to be successful or reduce dog-bite incidents. More people choke on sandwiches fatally than are fatally injured by dogs. That being said, large dogs are strong animals and are exploited regularly for monetary gains. It can’t be tolerated. While I’ve seen jack russels hang from tree branches, they aren’t used for fighting. When someone encourages this behavior with a bully-breed in public and broad daylight, it should definitely be reported.
    And let’s remember, the term ‘pit-bull’ is a description and not an actual breed.

  • irene antonucci

    HSUS has great flyers offering REWARD 5000.00 for any info re dog fighting Why dont we all put up some of these flyers Check out this link

  • irene antonucci

    To the person who posted this incident THANK YOU so much for sharing So helpful as ALL now know to be vigilant and how we can help

    we have to help end dog fighting If you see any of below call the police and WHS and Try to take a picture

    How to spot signs of dogfighting in your community

    An inordinate number of pit bull-type dogs being kept in one location, especially multiple dogs who are chained and seem unsocialized
    Dogs with scars on their faces, front legs, and stifle area (hind end and thighs)
    Dogfighting training equipment such as treadmills used to build dogs’ endurance, “break sticks” used to pry apart the jaws of dogs locked in battle, tires or “springpoles” (usually a large spring with rope attached to either end) hanging from tree limbs, or unusual foot traffic coming and going from a location at odd hours

  • Dee Baranoski

    I really wish someone would make this POS prune the branches and then stick that branch up his ass. This is just another excuse to treat animals horribly.


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