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Dog Mauling Threat

Original post made by John, Downtown North, on Aug 24, 2006

It seems that everyday I see someone or several someones who walk their dog and don't care to use a leash while doing so. It seems that there should be some tolerance for this since dogs are domestic animals and I've even the police drive on by without a care about it. However, if we cared enough to make a city law to leash your dog for fear that it could attack another dog or heaven forbid a small child, doesn't that sound serious enough to care about enforcing the leash laws.

Comments (60)

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Posted by Afraid of Dogs
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 24, 2006 at 10:16 pm

I agree. Dog owners in a city need to obey leash laws. Also, I really appreciate dog owners who respect my right NOT to interact with their dog. I am afraid of dogs - dogs sense it and come straight for me. My fear is instinctive, not something I can control. It confounds me when dog owners insist that their dog is so friendly and would never hurt me. They miss the point - I fear dogs and do not want them near me.


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Posted by PetOwner
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 25, 2006 at 8:50 am

I am a dog owner and I am pro-leash law. But there is something that I would like to add here for the benefit of the dog owners - most, I stress on "MOST" dog owners know the mentality of their pet. A dog is like a family member and most owners would hate for their dog to run away or get into an accident on the road or be in any harms way. So, if the dog owner suspects that their dog is not going to walk 'safely' without the leash - most of them would rather leash the dog, than suffer the heartache of the dog running away / getting hurt.


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Posted by Get a clue
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Aug 25, 2006 at 1:02 pm

It's not the job of poice officers to deal w/offleash dogs, but it is the responsibility of animal control, which is a division of the police dept. in this city.

Your headline is really misleading. What mauling threat? What would more likely happen is a single bite incident. If you're truly concerned, educate yourself by contacting animal control to get area bite stats, & perhaps complain about areas you in which see the offleash dogs. You may even be able to get info on how many dogs in the city are registered as dangerous, & what that definition means, legally.

Like many depts., animal control is likely to be underfunded & therefore, undermanned. This means that you can take action to get your concern addressed via the proper channels.

I can't recall when a dog in Palo Alto has mauled a person - can you? I've seen dog fights at the dog parks, but not people getting bit.


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Posted by Concerned Citizen
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 25, 2006 at 3:24 pm

My daughter has been bitten. My friend was bitten on the Dish prior to dogs being banned. I am sure we all know someone who was bitten by a dog here in Palo Alto. I wish more people, including dog owners, would stop denying that dogs make mistakes just like humans. Sometimes they bark when they are not expected to and sometimes they bite when they are not expected to. Sometimes they sniff other people who are afraid and simply don't want a dog near them -- that is why there are leash laws. It is a matter of respect for people, as well as the safety of dogs themselves. Dog make mistakes usually as a result of their owner not paying attention or their owner making a bad decision.


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Posted by Danny
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 25, 2006 at 3:30 pm

All dogs should be walked with a leash -- ALWAYS. If you want your dog to run free, take her or him to a dog park. Once while I was walking two dogs on leash, a neighbor had his dog off leash and the normally friendly animal made a B-line for my dogs and attacked one of them. The owner was over pretty quickly, but all three animals (not to mention us two humans) were pretty shaken up by the whole thing. It all could have been avoided had he just kept his dog on a leash.


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Posted by clueful
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 25, 2006 at 3:43 pm

Hey "get a clue", yes, dogs do bite people.

The number of victims.
A survey by the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta ("CDC") concluded that dogs bite nearly 2% of the U.S. population -- more than 4.7 million people annually. (Sacks JJ, Kresnow M, Houston B. Dog bites: how big a problem? Injury Prev 1996;2:52-4.)
Almost 800,000 bites per year -- one out of every 6 -- are serious enough to require medical attention. (Weiss HB, Friedman D, Coben JH. Incidence of dog bite injuries treated in emergency departments. JAMA 1998;279:51-53.)
Dog bites send nearly 368,000 victims to hospital emergency departments per year (914 per day). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Nonfatal Dog Bite–Related Injuries Treated in Hospital Emergency Departments — United States, 2001, MMWR 2003;52:605-610. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report is published by the CDC.
16,476 dog bites to persons aged 16 years or greater were work related. (Ibid., Nonfatal Dog Bite–Related Injuries Treated in Hospital Emergency Departments — United States, 2001, MMWR 2003;52:608.
Every year 2,851 letter carriers are bitten. (US Postal Service.)
Getting bitten by a dog is the second most frequent cause of visits to emergency rooms. (Weiss HB, Friedman DI, Coben JH. "Incidence of dog bite injuries treated in emergency departments," JAMA 1998;279:53, citing US Consumer Product Safety Commission, "Injuries associated with selected sports and recreational equipment treated in hospital emergency departments, calendar year 1994." Consumer Product Safety Review, Summer 1996;1:5. Also citing US Consumer Product Safety Commission, "Stair Steps and Baby Walkers Don't Mix." Washington D.C.:US Consumer Product Safety Commission;1992. Consumer Product Safety Alert No. 009207.)
An American has a one in 50 chance of being bitten by a dog each year. (CDC.)



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Posted by Parent of young kids
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 25, 2006 at 4:54 pm


I witnessed a dog bit three other dogs just months after I moved to Palo Alto in the field behind Water Hayes Elementary. It was very scary and I am very sure that dog could do great harm to kids . I would hope all the dog owners leash their dogs and be considerate of others and be responsible.


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Posted by You_Crack_Me_Up
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 25, 2006 at 5:35 pm

My message to "clueful" is get a clue. I love that you use national statistics to make a feeble argument that Palo Alto is a scary place with wild dogs roaming the streets. If you have not noticed Palo Alto is a little bit different than the rest of the country.

For example, I have never heard of a Palo Alto pit-bull owner; dogs that get the most media attention. Did you know that 99.99% of Palo Alto dog owners are super responsible people, most of them have children as well? See Johnson BJ, Skipler DW, Primal DK. "Incidence of dog bite injuries negligible in Palo Alto," JAMA 2005; 313:66, citing US Consumer Product Safety Commission, "Dogs within select affluent neighborhoods pose no threat," calendar year 2004.

John should go seek professional help for his morbid fear of dogs (this is one area where Palo Alto excels). What a shame!


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Posted by Mauling?
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 25, 2006 at 6:10 pm

"You crack me up" might want to consider professional help for other personality deficiencies. But he makes a good point about the statistics being better in more affluent neighborhoods.


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Posted by predictable
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 25, 2006 at 7:15 pm

Well, when I posted the national numbers, I knew that would be that the objection. Of course it's easy to take pot shots, but then I don't see you posting any local numbers.

The simple fact is that some people are afraid of dogs. I'm comfortable and love them, but my wife has been bitten twice out of the blue. Somehow dogs can sense her fear, and she draws them like magnets.

Thus it was that when she politely asked some loser at Rinconada to hold his dog as she passed him in the morning, he responded in an insulting and intimidating manner. Why is it that the person breaking the law is the one that goes on the offensive?

It's interesting that mr. you crack me up feels that it is necessary to demean others to make his point. But then maybe he doesn't have a point.


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Posted by Pit mixed owner
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 25, 2006 at 9:39 pm

We've owned a "rescued" mutt which is clearly mostly pit bull for about six years. She has been a great dog and especially sweet with children, but skittish of some adults and some other dogs. We take her on many walks in our neighborhood and are careful to cross the street when we see other dogs being walked by their owners, just to avoid possible problems.
The only time there is ever a problem is when we encounter someone walking their dog without a leash. Their dog usually comes running over to us and our dog feels very threatened by the fact she is on a leash and will bare her teeth and growl at the other dog, often getting into a fight that is very scary. This is among the reasons why all dog owners should be keeping their dogs on leash. When dogs encounter other dogs, owners without leashes endanger both the dogs and the people.


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Posted by J.Johnson
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 25, 2006 at 11:09 pm

It's pretty simple: your right to walk your dog off-leash ends the moment it accosts or threatens me. If/when it does, your dog is going to be the loser in that.

I love dogs, I really do. But I have the same right to be in public without being threatened or bothered as any dog owner.

Make book on this, though. As the father of a toddler, if your off-leash dog even LOOKS like it will move towards my child, I am like 100% of the parents out there: I won't hesitate to make sure your dog doesn't get close to my child. If that means your dog gets injured or killed, then so be it.

You off-leash dog owners should think about that.


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Posted by Gordon
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 27, 2006 at 12:34 am

I agree 100% with J. Johnson. I can't count the number of times that a large off-leash dog has rushed up to my children at a school playground or park, with the owner arriving on the scene later to assure us "don't worry, he's friendly". Evidently, such owners feel that the risk that their dog might bite my child is a risk they are willing to take. They seemed surprised to learn that it's a risk I'm not willing to take.


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Posted by William Morrison
a resident of Meadow Park
on Aug 27, 2006 at 10:21 am

I TALK TO SEVERAL DOG ATTACK VICTIMS A DAY. SEE
WWW.DOGBITELAWSUITS.COM
LOOK THE CHILDREN ON MY SITE THAT HAVE BEEN RIPPED TO SHREADS BY OFF LEASH DOGS


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Posted by I HAVE a clue
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Aug 28, 2006 at 10:32 am

The stats you state are not the stats I recommended the dog owner seek. And to the other poster - the Dish isn't Palo Alto. I don't actually know anyone in Palo Alto who has been bit by a dog here. My coworker was bit as a child on the east coast. I was bit in Oakland. I am well aware of what dog bite stats are, nationally & how people twist them & don't cite them accurately. People also need to disintguish between dog-dog aggression & dog-human aggression. Assuming dogs that have bit other dogsare dangerous to kids is wrong - some are, some aren't.

The dog mauling threat in Palo Alto is minimal & it frankly sounds like I know more than most people on this board. I have been a professional dog handler & while that means I really enjoy dogs, I have handled my share of unstable dogs. The threat of a dog mauling in Palo Alto is possible, but minimal. People here are generally pretty responsible, or at least aware of their own liability & some even give a darn about how their choices affect others. When was there ever a mauling here? Does anyone know? Not a bite, not a couple bites, but a MAULING?

J. Johndon needs to take heed that how a dog LOOKS doesn't give him/her the right to injure or kill the dog. BTW, the dog & the owner have NO right to have the dog offleash, whether the dog is misbehaving or not.

BTW, there are a good number of wonderful pit bulls & pit bull mixes responsibly owned in Palo Alto. Animal services here & in surrounding areas do a good job of adopting out the breed that meets or exceeds their temperament testing.

And as for the dog bite law guy - dude, we're talking about here in the city limits, not your practice.

It's dumb for people to not expect the worse of their dogs, as if their expectation is a guarantee. And certainly, when out in public, people have the right to be unimpeded by annoying dogs or people. It doesn't happen as often as it should, due to annoying homeless people & dog owners who think not having a dog onleash is cool, or that it being onleash means it's fine to let it approach anyone. There are plenty of people who're too busy to stop & make nice w/a dog, or just merely want to avoid interacting w/them. People walking their dogs need to pay attention to the body language of anyone in their approach so that they can respond accordingly. I do ot often, & it's relatively easy.

I was walking an onleash dog at night at the main library, & the dog was attacked by an offleash dog. The dog I was walking would've "won" the fight if I hadn't been on top of the situation, unlike the stupid owner of the offleash dog. Dog-dog aggression is very different from d0g-human aggression; most dog fights do not result in serious injury, but people are clumsy in trying to stop fights, & that is often where the dog-human injury happens. Does that mean the dog is human aggressive? Maybe - each dog is different, as are the contributing factors, so each has to be evaluated. PAAS does a good job of doing son.


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Posted by Midtowner
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 28, 2006 at 11:51 am

If dogs can do this to other dogs while being ON a leash, imagine what a dog can do to a small child while NOT being on a leash...

Web Link


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Posted by Bow-wow
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Aug 28, 2006 at 12:26 pm

stop breeding pit bulls, and forbid their continued ownership


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Posted by Has a Clue
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Aug 28, 2006 at 1:09 pm

Dog aggression & human aggression are very separate. Guess what? No person was injured - child or adult. Walking 3 strong dogs is a recipe for disaster unless the person is super strong & the dogs well-trained.Otherwise, packing behavior takes over. It's very tragic.

I've seen 3 pit bulls often in that area - I wonder if they're the same ones. They appeared nice, but pretty fearful.


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Posted by Stop breeding yourself!
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 28, 2006 at 1:11 pm

Educate yourself on pit bulls by checking out this website:

Web Link


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Posted by Tyler Hanley
digital editor of Palo Alto Online
on Aug 28, 2006 at 1:17 pm

Tyler Hanley is a registered user.

Note that a dog (on leash) was killed on Saturday in Midtown after being attacked by three other dogs, also on leash.

See story on Palo Alto Online: Web Link


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Posted by Bow-wow
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Aug 28, 2006 at 2:30 pm

Why shouldn't Pit Bulls be eliminated as a sold breed? Can you show me even one other more problematic dog breed - including Dobermans or Rotweillers?


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Posted by People have rights
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 28, 2006 at 2:45 pm

People's rights in this city include the right to own any breed of dog. Any individual dog deemed dangerous has its fate determined by a number of variables, but not by its breed. This is because experts believe that no one breed is prohibitively dangerous. Facts show that how the dog is handled is the determining factor, not its breed. The recent dog law this state adopted has to be enforced by individual cities and counties, and I do not know if Palo Alto has done anything about it.


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Posted by John
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 28, 2006 at 3:53 pm

I was raised on a ranch, and we had many dogs, cats, chickens, etc. Dogs are pack animals, and they naturally adapt to the pack mentality. I, personally, do not own a dog in the urban environment, because I think it is a selfish thing. The urban dogs are isolated and nervous. It is a very strange thing, really, to 'control' a dog. Yes, I know, many humans think that they can think for the dog, but can they think for the pack?

I don't have a cat, either, but a cat cannot be 'owned', unless there is some SERIOUS neurosis going on!

It would be MUCH more humane to ask humans to avoid having dogs, unless they can provide a 'pack' environment. By this, I mean the wide open spaces in the rural enviroment.

A dog is NOT a man's best friend. The man needs a dog to have a friend. Too bad for the dog.


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Posted by Bow-wow
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Aug 28, 2006 at 4:09 pm

John, I'm with you. Having lived on a farm, I've seen roving packs of once-domesticated dogs run cattle for a kill, or run down (but not kill) frightened urbanites who just went "for a run" on a country road.

Pit bulls are bred in a way that makes them MUCH more likely, even controlling for nurturing owners, to attack and maul.


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Posted by John
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 28, 2006 at 5:46 pm

Bow-wow,

Yep. You get it.

Dogs are NOT urban pets. They are urban slaves.

Let them live free!


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Posted by NoMorePitBulls
a resident of Los Altos
on Aug 28, 2006 at 6:44 pm

I'm sick of seeing it; people treating dogs like human beings with tragic consequences.
First, since we allow pitbulls on a pitiful small leash, how about people being allowed to walk their tigers or lions?
I am tired of seeing selfish people so concerned with their 'rights', that they don't care about anyone or any animal other than themselves.
I've seen people who allow their animals to piss and crap in their house, under the mistaken assumption that they love their dog/cat/ferret/whatever so much that they wouldn't dream of doing something so cruel such as set boundaries or put structure in the animals lives.
Trying to treat a dog as a human being is a form of animal cruelty. And our society shouldn't allow people to inflict their egos (whoops, meant animals ha!) on others.


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Posted by Nazi-like slavish weirdness
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 29, 2006 at 9:29 am

The majority of the opinions on this board are based on being casual dog owners, who specialize in something else in your lives. Being raised on a farm doesn't make you a dog expert. The whole bizarre twists of urban vs. country that you opine - puhlease. It was pack mentality that got the poor Maltese killed. The "ownership" of domesticated animals is because animals are considered a special type of property. This is an old argument, and one to which you contibute little of value. YAWN.


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Posted by Nikki B.
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 29, 2006 at 11:15 am

You know what; if you can not control your dogs get them off the street. You know when your dog is aggressive! Take some responsibility and stop making excuses for your lack of empathy for others! If your pet can not walk down the street without provoking or being aggressive then they have no reason to be out in public. This story is horrifying to me and especially because if this is the pup I saw at 7:45 in Starbucks on Sat. morning then I am ever more pissed! This pup was so friendly, small and happy. Shame on all of you who have nothing but sympathy thoughts to send. Not only do we need to dodge the cars at Middlefield and Colorado but now we can have to worry when we pass people with dogs on the street? All this PC crap is getting out of hand. Bottom line, get your dogs some training and discipline or leave them at home!


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Posted by To Nikki B
a resident of Esther Clark Park
on Aug 29, 2006 at 12:43 pm

Are you hoping the owner of the pit bulls reads your comments? Shame on people who have sympathy? What?


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Posted by John
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 29, 2006 at 3:37 pm

Nazi: You said, "Being raised on a farm doesn't make you a dog expert. "

No, not a specialist, but it DOES allow us to understand the basic nature of dogs.

You are VERY naive!

Why should the majority of the public need to put up with such neurotic urban explanations of dog ownership?

Free the dogs! They deserve it....

The rest of us deserve some peace.


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Posted by Safety first
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Aug 29, 2006 at 10:13 pm

It's so sad to read about the poor little Maltese that was mauled to death. This discussion illustrates why it is impossible to have a rational conversation with pit bull defenders. When pit bulls attack and kill children, other dogs and cats -- without provocation -- all we hear from these people are cries that we shouldn't "discrimminate" against the breed. The pit bull that killed the Maltese should be put down and the walker/owner prosecuted. The article said there was already a warning on the dogs.

Palo Altans - Be aware that off-leash proponents and pit bull advocates are extremely aggressive and territorial (e.g., they want parks for off leash dogs, even if it displaces children and smaller dogs). I've lived in SF and Berkeley and had many, many unpleasant encounters with folks who feel completely entitled to run their pit bulls, Rottweilers, etc. off leash and become hostile if challenged.

Let's keep an on-leash, pro-safety culture here in PA. The community needs to take a strong stand. I hope that a lot of people attend the hearing and speak up for kids, vulnerable dogs, and cats.


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Posted by To John
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 30, 2006 at 10:45 am

Funny you call me naive. I'm a professinal dog handler and have been for a number of years. Your anti-pet stance smacks of PETA freakishness. Perhaps we should free the dogs in the area of family farms. I'm sure that's a kind, loving thing to do for the dogs, people and livestock.


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Posted by Safety First?
a resident of Walter Hays School
on Aug 30, 2006 at 12:29 pm

All the dogs involved were onleash. No one was being aggressive about their dogs' rights - the dogs themselves were being dog aggressive and the owner was unable to handle them when they aggressed. That's the problem - packing behavior with an owner unable to handle them all at once.

Blame the deed, not the breed.


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Posted by Simon.
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Aug 30, 2006 at 2:31 pm

I saw this. All the dogs were on leashes. The lady with the little dog crossed the street coming right toward the lady with the pit bull. Why would anyone with a very small dog bring it over to any large dog? I ask this because I sometimes walk my friend's black lab. It doesn't like other dogs, but sometimes owners of small dogs seem so unconcerned and try to come right by me. In this case, the lady with the pit bull was trying to get ahead while in the crosswalk and the other lady kept coming. The little dog came up to the pit bull, not the other way around. Please. owners of small dogs, don't let your dogs come up to large dogs you don't know!


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Posted by Martine
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 30, 2006 at 2:43 pm

Simon is correct. The lady with the tiny dog crossed Colorado Ave. from behind Best Video to get to the lady with the 3 dogs. I thought she knew her. The lady with the 3 dogs said something to the small dog lady. Then she crossed the street but the small dog lady came after her. If I had a tiny dog I would try and keep it away from big dogs.


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Posted by Jack
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Aug 30, 2006 at 2:52 pm

Sounds like a case of dog-dog aggression to me. I spent 2 summers while in college delivering mail for the post office. Got bitten twice, both times by small dogs. All the other mail carriers said that the small dogs on their routes were, generally, more aggressive than the large dogs! Of course, large dogs can do more damage! My daughter has a smallish dog and I never bring it over to a large dog I don't know. Why would someone do this?


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Posted by Dog Owner
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 30, 2006 at 3:14 pm

You will note the dog that was mauled WAS ON A LEASH and the three dogs that did the mauling were ALL ON LEASHES. It's not the leash that matters but the training and management of the owner and the dog itself.


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Posted by Palo Alto Resident
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 30, 2006 at 3:58 pm

I would like pit bulls banned from the city.


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Posted by Eric
a resident of Mountain View
on Aug 30, 2006 at 4:08 pm

People who let their irrational fears and psychosis get so out of control that they are used as justifications to limit others' freedom should be banned. Period.


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Posted by Linda
a resident of Mountain View
on Aug 30, 2006 at 4:35 pm

Yes dogs are pack animals. That also means they see you as a member of the pack. They also have a very defined social structure and hiearchy. You, as the responsible pet owner MUST place yourself as the Alpha dog. Unless your dog thinks you are the boss they will never obey you. I think this is comes more naturally as a concern with bigger dogs, which responsible owners feel they have to be able to control, while the small ones are just treated by their owners like human children. They're not, they're dogs, and don't abide by human social rules. Treat your dog as a dog so they understand your language, and they won't be unpredictible, and you will be able to control their behavior. I have seen/interacted with plenty of small dogs that are alpha dogs in their families and try to enforce it with everybody else as well. That makes them defend their status by attacking others, be they human or canine. I have an 80 lb happy go-lucky fluffball that everbody LOVES and he loves everyone else. However, when I walk him, he is ALWAYS on a leash, I always pay attention to the body language of the person coming toward me, if they're uncomfortable, I move to the other side of the street. He's a big guy, I understand that even if I know his body language means happy dog, his open mouth with shiny white teeth may not look "smiley" to someone else. If I see another dog I always ask the owner if it's ok if they "say hello". Some owners say "he/she isn't good with other dogs", at which point we just walk away. His safety is what is important to me. Since he's 80 lbs, I'd better be able to control him even if he's on a leash, off leash it would be near impossible. If you have a dog you cannot hold back on a leash, you shouldn't take them out in public until you can. It's for their safety as must as for anyone elses.

To understand your dog, and basic dog behavior and their pack social structure, there are two absolutely excellent books out there to read:
"How to be your dogs best friend" and "The art of raising a puppy" both by the Monks of new Skete.


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Posted by j
a resident of another community
on Aug 30, 2006 at 4:41 pm

I find it interesting that the peninsula is so dog-unfriendly. I own a dog which is 100% responsive to me when off leash. I keep her on-leash when walking her, unless in an off-leash area, both for the benefit of people who don't understand dogs or to keep her away from dogs I don't know. I see a lot of dogs at stanford mall, and have never seen a problem, I see people walking their dogs and ocassionally you will see one get out of line, but again is usually the owner that caused the problem, either by allowing the dog to interact with another strange dog or not having control over their dog. At the dog parks, when there is an off leash dog who is behaving badly, the dog and the owner get run out of the dog park immediately by the other owners. If you just cross the bridge into the east bay, *MOST* of the parks are OFF LEASH areas. See

Web Link

I've been to point isabel on weekend days and there are something in the neighborhood of 200 dogs running around, all off leash. Occasionallly there are squabbles among the dogs, but rarely is there a real problem... all because the owners are on top of what their dogs are doing. People forget (or don't know) a few basic things about dogs... 1) social order is established via dominance... this means agression in most cases. 2) dog play to the untrained eye looks like a fight, sometimes a vicious one because the dogs are making growling and barking noises, and will occasionally yelp... its like crying uncle. 3) you have to KNOW your dog to be able to control them and understand what they are doing.

and that crap about dogs being neurotic because they live in the city is just that. crap. ;)


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Posted by Grace
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 30, 2006 at 4:49 pm

Some dog breeds are simply dog aggressive and, most unfortunately, there is nothing that can be done about it. Pit Bulls are among those breeds, which also includes such family friendly dogs as Labs and Retrievers. The pit bull in question at the moment had about 75 pounds on that tiny maltese so what was the owner of the maltese thinking when the owner of the pit bulls asked her not to get closer? I also saw the whole thing and the pit bull attacked the maltese because the maltese ran up to him barking and acting aggressive, what would any of us do if someone ran up to us yelling and being aggressive? The article also got quite a few things wrong: the other two pits did nothing and none of the three were taken away, simply sent home with their owner, among other innacuracies.


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Posted by George
a resident of Menlo Park
on Aug 30, 2006 at 7:01 pm

Good point Grace. If you ran up to me "yelling and being aggressive" and I outweighed you by 75 pounds, I would likely maul you to death. Point well taken.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Aug 30, 2006 at 8:46 pm

George you have no shame. How can you make such a comment when a family has suffered such a tragic loss. How would you feel if it was your child that got mauled and someone said your exact same words.


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Posted by Ilovemypit
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 31, 2006 at 2:05 am

I think that people are making statements without knowing all of the facts, as with the incident that took place in midtown on Saturday. I know the owners of the dogs and happen to know that they are all well behaved and very friendly. An example of bad journalism, is stating that three Pit bulls viciously mauled the Maltese. Mauled is most definitely not the correct terminology to use because that is not at all what happened. Second, only after the Maltese owner disregarded the request of the other owner to keep her distance, the incident occurred. And, contradictory to the article only one of the dogs was involved in the incident. In fact, the other remained perfectly calm, not to get involved. Also, please define pit bull. None of these dogs have papers proving any of them are pit bulls at all. Two of them are a mixed breed (mutts, one looks like a black lab! And they were all adopted from a local vet clinic. It seems any problem that happens with a dog these days, people want to jump to conclusions and automatically label it a pit. If people were to do some real research before blurting out rumors displayed as fact, they would find that Pit Bulls are not at the top of the Attack list in California or in the nation. Banning Pit Bulls in Palo Alto is prejudice and illegal. This incident is a tragedy for everyone involved; I just can't understand why anyone would approach any animal after the owner has asked several times to respectfully keep their space.


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Posted by Jeanne
a resident of another community
on Aug 31, 2006 at 7:01 am

Interesting...suddenly, on this board and the Diana's Blog discussing this, there are about a dozen anonymous "witnesses" claiming various versions "blaming" the Maltese owner.

We are all supposed to believe that the Maltese owner went rushing up to a stranger walking three huge pit bulls, despite the pit bull owner yelling for her to "stay away". Yes, that seems likely.

The only witness quoted in the paper said she saw the two approach each other on the sidewalk, thats it. If the pit owner was concerned about her dogs, she should have crossed the street. Or her dogs should have been trained to "leave it". No one in their right mind walks three huge dogs UNLESS all have done advanced obedience and will respond immediately, 100% of the time to voice commands. I'm sure the pit owner thought she looked "real cool" strutting down the street with her three dogs. She is now responsible for the death of someone elses beloved pet. Like most pit owners, I'm sure she doesn't care.

You pit owners want it both ways. You want to convince the public how wonderful and safe the breed is...that they are NO more likely to be aggressive than any other breed. If that's true, then why shouldn't a small breed dog owner walk past them on the sidewalk? Why is it the Maltese's fault? I walk past small dogs all the time; I have even had some small dogs (gasp) bark at my dog! He doesn't try to kill them.

Message to dog owners.....beware of pit bulls.


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Posted by John
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 31, 2006 at 11:30 am

Good post, Jeanne. Looks like the Pit Pull lobby is fully primed and prepared to take no prisoners.


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Posted by dogs bite here too
a resident of Meadow Park
on Aug 31, 2006 at 1:07 pm

We have a dog, and we love and tolerate other people's dogs. But several years ago, when my daughter was jogging in the park near our house, she was bitten by a neighbor's dog. It was entirely unprovoked. Apparently the dog slipped its leash and just decided to chase her and bite her (no, she didn't have our dog with her). We took her to the emergency room, and she still has the scar on her calf. The neighbor felt awful about the incident.


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Posted by Theresa
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 31, 2006 at 1:15 pm

I would like to point out that English is not the first language for the owner of the Maltese. Blaming the attack on her dog on her is, I think, ridiculous.

Why are three dogs that can't share the sidewalk with other dogs out in public at all? I'm sure that I was walking my dog and some other dog owner said, "You better not bring your dog near mine and if you do it's your fault if anything happens," that I'd be puzzled and not react immediately.

If the woman walking the big dogs knew that they would react aggressively to another dog, SHE should have removed HER dogs from the situation.

My dog is a medium-sized mutt, weighing around 45 pounds. I know when I'm walking him that smaller dogs annoy him, but I have him completely under control and don't let him go near other dogs, even when they are on the same patch of sidewalk.

Yes, small dogs get yappy around bigger dogs. They are trying to establish dominance and frankly all they have are their high-pitched voices. If you KNOW your big dog will strike at a little yappy dog, don't put your big dog in a situation where he or she will have to deal with that. Keep them home, or take them for walks on remote trails. Don't go waltzing down to a busy shopping area and expect everyone to give your dogs a wide berth.


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Posted by tired of ill mannered small dogs
a resident of another community
on Aug 31, 2006 at 5:01 pm

I have been out walking, without a dog, and had small dogs bark and approach me quite aggressively. Generally when this happens the owners laugh or make a comment about "how small dogs are". Now I realize that if one of these little guys bit me there would be no great damage, but that is not the point. When will ALL dogs owners be required to be responsible, not just people with dogs over 30 lbs?


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Posted by Leslie
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 31, 2006 at 6:16 pm

Actually, the bites of all dogs damage- size only limits the reach and extent.

All dog owners need to keep their dogs under control on on a leash unless they are in a dog run or a fenced backyard. The owner of the Maltese did not control her barking dog and neither did the owner of the pit-mix. Both are at fault.

Maltese is dead, but the pit-mix has attacked and killed another dog. Such an animal needs to be either destroyed or otherwise retrained. Who is to blame now should not be the main issue, both parties share blame. What is more important is determining the fate of this animal who has killed? I live near midtown and I do walk and cycle. I would not like to meet this animal until this issue has been addressed.


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Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 31, 2006 at 6:43 pm

The Weekly has been very irresponsible in it's stories. That dog has never bitten another dog and it was the only dog involved in this incident. This is a tragedy for all concerned - let's call it just that!


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Posted by MeadowMark
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 31, 2006 at 7:27 pm

Given some of the meanderings, I thought I would reiterate what the original post was commenting on - there's too many people who walk their dogs in public spaces without a leash. Sometimes this is in your local park, sometimes in the street.

As the post from the CDC points out, these are accidents waiting to happen. A dog bite is a serious problem that no reasonable person looks forward to or wants to subject their child to.

If you see some clueless person in your local park or street, walking dogs without a leash, give them a printout of the CDC stats, tell them nicely that you're sure his/her dogs are well behaved but accidents happen more frequently than people realize. Point out to them that there are dog runs and park areas where they can let their dogs run free. If you see children in proximity, please point out that its the law as well.

Its too bad that these people don't think critically and utilize the facilities the city has set up to let them let their pets run free. Sometimes people need a nudge to be better citizens. Would be nice for Animal Control to sweep through parks once a year or more to remind people why its necessary.


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Posted by insane gun owner (just kidding)
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 31, 2006 at 10:49 pm

I agree with the comments that it's insane to blame the Maltese even if the other woman did warn her. If I carry around a loaded weapon, and annoying or strange people who really bother me come too close and get shot, would it then be their fault if I've warned them to keep their distance? Animals who pose this kind of serious danger should be banned, they are too much of a public safety threat.


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Posted by Suzanne M.
a resident of another community
on Sep 1, 2006 at 9:41 am

MeadowMark makes a great point. I speak as someone who used to work for an Animal Services in the East Bay. Also, as a resident of Mountain View where I see many unleashed dogs in city parks - I'm sure Palo Alto is the same. Many people do not realize how common it is for dogs to fight. Many times no real damage is done, but the potential is always there especially if the dogs are different sizes. I've heard many people say their dog has never done this before and they are right, but there is always a first time. Even a very people friendly dog who has never before bitten another dog can do so because it suddenly feels threatened or wants to show dominance. Even small dogs can inflict a painful bite on a human or a dog and the hassle you will go through afterward is not worth it. Most Animal Control Services will recommend that any dog that bites a human or another animal be euthanized - especially if it is large. There are several reasons for this. One, it may mean that the animal will do it again. Two, it is simply easier than guessing at what may have been the cause of a dog fight. Three, if something else did happen, the city or county could be considered liable. It is not that animal services workers do not care for animals - they definitely do, but they quickly become used to putting many animals to sleep - they have to, or, like me, they leave the job. I did not want to feel that this was ever routine, so I went back to school to do something else. I realize that both the dogs in question were on a leash, but I write as someone who has dealt with dog problems and I'd like to remind everyone that since dogs can fight it is wiser to just keep your dog away from other dogs unless you know them, and if your dog is off leash the odds are it will run into other dogs.


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Posted by Perriann
a resident of another community
on Sep 8, 2006 at 11:22 pm

I don't see how banning pit bulls will solve anything. Dogs get into fights all the time, and there are many breeds that are known to be dog aggressive (think any kind of terrier). Should we ban any dog capable of killing another dog? Or breeds known to dislike other dogs? What about the friendly lab that ripped the woman's face off? Yes, so it's pretty rare to have a lab rip someone's body parts off, but it is also rare to have ANY dog rip a body part off, no matter how much the media would love for you to think otherwise. This is not a breed problem. This is an incidence of stupidity, on both parts, although I must side against the maltese owner. I don't care what language you speak, this is America, and if you want to live successfully and safely here, learning English is extremely important. That isn't even the point, though. She was warned not to come over and she specifically crossed the street to get to where they were. Even if you think you should be able to walk wherever you want, it doesn't make any sense to prove it by sacrificing your pet and possibly putting yourself in danger. There are more important things going on in the world right now that deserve this kind of attention.


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Posted by
a resident of Duveneck School
on Sep 16, 2006 at 10:03 pm

A little animal runs up to a bunch of dogs, one of the dog kills the little animal. Well, that little animal could be a toddler. Yes, we all should be able to control our toddler, but that doesn't aways happen, and that is not an excuse. One should not be walking a dog (let alone a big group of dogs) in a busy area and expect everyone to get out of their way. Stop blaming the victim.

A bigger problem is dogs off leashes. I have asked owners to put their dogs on leashes at schools and parks many times, and only one did so quickly without an obnoxious remark back. One time a dog ran up onto a play structure with my kids, and the owner seemed offended when asked to put the dog on a leash! I realize most dogs are safe, but why must I take the risk when the law says otherwise?


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Posted by wilkieman
a resident of Terman Middle School
on Dec 6, 2006 at 4:34 pm

wilkieman is a registered user.

Get a cat!


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Posted by Get educated!
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 8, 2006 at 3:46 pm

This issue is not about breeds as much as it is about owner responsibility. I have 2 pit rescues at the moment. I grew in a good family in Palo Alto, I am educated and I am responsible. I agree that the issue of keeping dogs on leash is paramount. This thread has turned into a dog bashing session for some. One of my rescues is a pit mix and the other mostly pit and some american bull dog. The latter dog is huge and has now been bitten by a jack russell, a lab and one other highly owned family breed- all unprovoked by him. My scary 85 pound pit mix was not only calm and confident, but did not retaliate to any of the dogs...why? He is well trained and under control.

So many people do not take the time to train their animals. Not only are they untrained, but they also have behavioral issues due to lack of stimulation & exercise. Many dog park fights happen because one dog is overexcited and raises tension in the dog park. As Cesar Milan says, "the dog park is Starbucks for dogs, not the gym." Dogs have a pack mentality and that poor little Maltese was ganged up on. I blame both owners, but more so the owner of the 3 dogs for their lack of control...not the breed.

I rescue animals because the number of families that embark into owning a pet only to rid of it is disgusting. The idea of giving my pet away because my life can't handle it or my new house won't allow out is inconceivable. Unfortunately, most shelters are filled with pit bulls and pit mixes due to irresponsibilty of a many and people's predjudices to adopt. I don't think it's for everyone, but then again, I would say many people I run a across with dogs do not train them. Yes, my dogs are pits/pit mixes and are fantastic with people and children and one with other dogs. My older dog is not dog friendly, and I know this and take precaution. I would say half the dogs I run into while walking don't like other dogs. I know there are many statistics regarding dog bites and at one point it was cocker spaniel that was the highest.

If the shelters were filled with Labs or retrievers I would probably have one of those. I am just trying to give a good home to 2 dogs that were abandoned and needed a new life. Please blame the humans for their dog's behavior and stop being prejudice. I am not saying all pitbulls are good, but neither are many other dogs.

Needed to rant.


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Posted by Andrew
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 8, 2006 at 6:01 pm

This is mainly directed towards Bow-wow, and any other bigoted and ignorant poster participating in this forum saying that we should "Ban pitbull breeding" and "Ban the owning of pitbulls". Fear without education is ignorance.

I do agree that ALL dogs should be on-leash in public without exception unless they ar in a controlled space such as a dog yard, but before you spout your animal bigotry for all to read, please do some actual research and educate yourself on the facts. Such as the numbers of domestic dog bites on humans in the U.S. You will find that pitbulls are way down on the list. Below cocker spaniels, golden retrievers, poodles and several other breeds. I myslef have been bitten by a standard poodle that I was told moments before, "he's friendly".

You may say, "but how come we always hear of these pitbull incidents on the news?" Unfortunately the media loves to zero in on anything negative regarding pitbulls. They don't tell you about the pitbull that found a lost child in the wilderness after being missing for days when ALL of the other search and rescue dogs couldn't find anything.

They don't tell you about the pitbull in Los Angeles that woke up his entire family moments before their home was engulfed in flames.

Nope, all you hear about is the ignorant woman in SF who's special needs child is mauled to death when she locked him in a basement with two un-altered pitbulls, of which the female was in heat. This woman is the guilty party, not the dogs.

I am a native Palo Altan and I have been a pitbull advocate and a fan of these dogs since 1983, when I began volunteering at the PA Animal Shelter at the age of 13. I quickly found that because of ignorant backyard breeders with egos larger than their brains, the majority of the dogs that end up in shelters are pitbull and pitbull mixed breeds. Yes, some of these discarded dogs are not suitable for adoption due to the improper way they were raised and mistreated. But, the majority of them are happy, loving and extremely intelligent animals that just want to love and be loved. Needless to say, I still own and love these dogs and will continue to own and love them for my entire life.

I have a son of 11 months and we have an 82 pound "PitBull" that we rescued 2 years ago. They're buddies and our dog is the most gentle and loving dog I have ever seen with a child. He is even friendly with a neighborhood cat.

Do yourslef a favor and get educated and maybe actually seek out and meet some "pitbulls" before you spout off in a public forum again and and appear ignorant and bigoted. I'll bet that you find a new friend and/or at least a newly found respect for a very kind and intelligent breed that has fallen prey and become a scapegoat due to the stupidity and misuse of humans.


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