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Leashed dog (pit bull?) attacks small leashed dog at El Carmelo Elementary

Original post made by R Thomas on Jul 18, 2013

Today at 5:30PM our family of four stopped at the corner of Loma Verde and Bryant, after hearing a man screaming in alarm. Several other people also stopped--some were pedestrians, some bicyclists, and some neighbors coming out to see what was going on. Altogether about 15 people must've observed this incident.

Our attention was drawn to the El Carmelo kindergarten playground, where it appeared a pit bull or pit bull mix was attacking a small dog. Both dogs were leashed, perhaps to the same pole. The larger dog had the small one in its jaws. The man, presumably the small dog's owner, continued screaming as a woman, presumably the larger dog's owner, shouted at the larger dog and tried to get it to let go. At least two children, one about three years old standing about 10 yards away, and another older child farther away, stood inside the same play area where the dog attack was occurring, watching.

As the man continued shouting and screaming in horror, the woman appeared to pick up something and beat the larger dog about the head with it. The larger dog didn't appear to let go for about 90 seconds, and the woman's beating didn't appear to slow or deter the larger dog at all. The woman stopped beating the dog after whacking it several times. It shook the smaller dog a few times, flapping its body about like a rag doll. After 10 to 15 seconds of continuing to hold the smaller dog's head in its jaws, the larger dog let go and the small dog immediately scampered as far away as its leash allowed it.

We observers could hear the woman tearfully offering the man her contact information as she held the larger dog's collar. We couldn't hear whether he replied. He stayed close to the smaller dog, which was still moving, and still on leash.

Once we saw that the small dog was still alive, we continued on our way. We regret that children, including our own 4- and 7-year-olds, witnessed this traumatic incident--heard the man's screaming and the dog's squeaking and whimpering, watched the woman beating the dog and the dog ignoring her. The entire time we kept asking ourselves, "What can we do? How can we help stop this? Should we have called the police?"

We often walk and bike around Midtown and play at the El Carmelo playground, as this is our neighborhood. The owner appeared to have leashed the large dog, which looked like a pit bull, yet no one was in control of it during the attack.

Comments (12)

Posted by Kevin, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 18, 2013 at 10:02 pm

>yet no one was in control of it during the attack.

You don't control a pit bull, no matter what. Their owners will, predictably, respond that it is not the breed, but the owners...blah, blah.

This will continue to happen.


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 18, 2013 at 11:29 pm

Any idea why both the dogs were leashed to the same pole? I hope that the poor little dog is ok.


Posted by Zoologist, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 19, 2013 at 8:04 am

The law clearly states that a dog owner must be in control of the dog at all times when in public. Male pit bulls are especially difficult to control, even leashed, which is why several municipalities have made it illegal to have one inside city limits. They ARE a terrier, which is why they shake their "prey", which ultimately snaps the neck of the smaller animal.

The little dog was lucky, but probably harmed nonetheless by the attack. Police should have been called....a dog should never be left tied and unattended. Pit bulls come with an extra liability, especially the males.


Posted by Aquamarine, a resident of Stanford
on Jul 19, 2013 at 11:57 am

Zoologist is of course referring to intact males, which they neglected to mention. I'm glad that the trigger happy police weren't there. It sounds like the big dog owner did the right thing giving her information to the small dog owner. Zoologist isn't exactly correct about the dogs not allowed in some cities. If there is breed specific legislation as they Zoologist describes, it's about breeds, not gender. Animal control will sort this out and luckily, Palo Alto has experienced officers.

None of us readers know what sparked the fight, and it could've been started by the smaller dog, and finished by the larger dog. It's not uncommon, but it very unfortunate. Unless you know what happened, stop blaming the bigger dog.


Posted by Police?, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jul 19, 2013 at 12:35 pm

If you had called the police and they were able to get their as the attack was happening what do you think they would have done? They are not animal control officers and only have a few options. Unless they have catch poles or tranquilizer guns this would have been a repeat of what happened in Southern California where cops had to shoot a rotweiller. Then people like Aquamarine would call them trigger happy.


Posted by Aquamarine, a resident of Stanford
on Jul 19, 2013 at 12:47 pm

Yes, because it would make them trigger happy. The police lately are way out of control with dog shooting. It's reprehensible. They'd prefer to kill an animal then risk getting bit, but of course they wouldn't let someone else stop the fight - which is what happened - the owner stopped the fight. We all know from the mountain lion shooting case that PAPD allegedly don't carry tranquilizer guns and neither does Animal Control. Besides, this incident already happened and hopefully, Animal Control is involved to the degree that they should be.


Posted by Kevin, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 19, 2013 at 3:25 pm

"They'd prefer to kill an animal then risk getting bit,"

Ya don't say! Dah!!! Maybe their spouses want them to come home at the end of day.


Posted by Nora Charles, a resident of Stanford
on Jul 19, 2013 at 5:53 pm

Dog owners must take responsibility. I always get a little scared when I see pit bulls, even though most can be very sweet (watch "Pit Bulls and Parolees" on TV!) I truly hope the little dog will be okay.


Posted by R Thomas, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 19, 2013 at 8:50 pm

Aquamarine wrote:
> the owner stopped the fight

That did not seem to be the case. The owner did beat the larger dog around the head for a while, but the larger dog didn't appear to be fazed by this at all. Rather, it seemed that after a time (we weren't timing it, as we were in shock watching it transpire, but I'd guess it was 15 seconds) the larger dog let go of the smaller dog.

On his commute home from work today, my husband happened to see what looked like the smaller dog being walked by a woman. The dog had a large black bandage around its head and its fur had been shaved in a spot, presumably so it could get stitches. Our family are glad to know the little dog seems to be healing.

I wondered if applying something very smelly to an attacking dog's nose (from a distance, with a stick or something) might distract it long enough to stop an attack.

For those interested, I found this advice for how to handle a dog attack:

Web Link

Among other suggestions, it says lifting the attacking dog's legs can prevent it from doing further damage.


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 19, 2013 at 9:23 pm

The big dog's owner should get a breaking stick & keep it w/her on walks & practice ahead of time how to use it. A small boat horn can help (loud noise) & there's also a strong citronella spray (very strong smell) used to prevent dog attacks. Pepper spray can work against you if there's a breeze. If the dogs aren't too focused on the fight, these methods can help. Of course, why they were tied up together is what I'm wondering. I'm glad to read that the little dog seems to be ok!


Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 21, 2013 at 12:06 am

I just shudder in disbelief when I hear people express ideas like our police should accept getting bitten or mauled by dogs instead of shooting them if they feel threatened.

If you have a dog that is threatening the police, or the police feel is a threat, it is up to you to control the dog and get it out of the area .... it should not be in anyone's job description to risk getting attacked by a dog.

I would go further, I'd say when civilians walking around feel threatened they should be able to report a dog before they are mauled.

This is no the dog's fault, this is the owner's faults. I don't understand why some people feel they need to get a pit bull and then parade it around town ... it is the same as brandishing a weapon ... and people get arrested for that.

If any of us are walking somewhere, how can we possibly know what someone's dog is like - we have to assume the worst, and as more people get these lethal weapon canines it just means that more of us have to back off and cower while some jerks walks by with their dog. Given this kind of reality now, I completely undertstand why people want to the right to bear arms and the "stand your ground" laws. Many our fellow citizens are not very social or civic minded when it comes to their and their dog's behavior.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 21, 2013 at 7:22 am

Not sure why either owner should have tied a leash up to anything in a park. Dogs need to be watched by alert owners, not tied up in public places. If a long leashed dog is tied up they are likely to tie up the leashes around people's legs, strollers, park benches, etc.
If dogs are tied up in public places, the owners are not being responsible to the dogs or the public.


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