My neighbor's dog killed my cat. Now what do I do?
December 11, 2008 2:05 PM   Subscribe

I need helping dealing with a difficult neighbor situation and the death of a family pet. What would you do?

First some background: The house we have lived in for about 5 years is in a decent working class neighborhood in the suburbs. It is next to the worst kept house on the street, something we didn't notice until move in day. The neighbor that lives in this house seems nice - we exchange hello’s occasionally but that's it. Shortly after we moved in we noticed a lot of traffic coming and going to the house. Mostly high school-ish age kids, some rough looking dudes on harleys occasionally late at night. I went to college for several years and had a fantastic time, so I was aware of what was probably going on.

The houses in our neighborhood are small, but have big lots which are great for gardening. We choose to mainly grow vegetables and such. My neighbor is more into the commodity type of home gardening, on a large scale. I am pro-legalization, but not for grow-ops in your backyard. I have no problem with personal use. Last year the neighbor decided he needed extra security so he got himself some pit bulls. Three at last count.

Yesterday a visiting relative let one of our indoor cats out into the backyard. He has snuck out in the past but generally gets bored or hungry and comes back in an hour or two later. The relative left for the day, not realizing the cat had gotten out (she says). She mentioned when I got home that one of our cats was missing, and then shortly after that the neighbor knocked on our door and said his dogs were missing. I put things together quickly in my head and a few minutes later was standing over our deceased cat in our backyard.

I am fairly certain that his dogs got over the fence by climbing on top of one of the cars in their backyard and jumping the fence. However one of our side gates was open from a utility company person who was in our backyard the day before, so there were no dogs around when I got home. There are signs in the backyard of a definite chase that occurred. It is possible, but highly unlikely, that some *other* dog or animal is the culprit. It was not another cat judging from the condition of mine.

I want this neighbor gone. Or at a minimum his dogs gone. I can report a “vicious animal” and animal control would investigate (I called and asked), but part of me is thinking wait until Spring and make an anonymous call to the cops about the garden. Fear of retaliation (and stupid drug laws) has kept me from doing this so far.

I'm not sure a "you need to get rid of the dogs and pot farm" conversation will go over well.

What would you do?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (32 answers total)
A dog who will get loose and kill a cat is not a dog I'd want to live next to. I'd report it now. I'd also start making complaints to the city about noise, trash, or other problems. If the city puts the house on its radar, they'll find the grow-ops.

Crappy situation; I'm sorry about your cat.
posted by theora55 at 2:12 PM on December 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

I think the most telling line is: on top of one of the cars in their backyard

Despite calling it a "decent working class neighborhood" you're actually in a bad neighborhood.

If you cannot move, then: Simple solution: anonymous call to the cops about the pot farm. If there is a Crimestoppers type line in your town where they take tips, call it from a pay phone. Report your neighbor. Allow the law to take care of the pot, then he has no need of the dogs.
posted by arniec at 2:25 PM on December 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I'd agree with you that it was his dogs. Most cats, even outdoor cats, don't get killed by dogs or anything else. The fact that you live next to three (agressive?) dogs who were out of their yard strongly suggests that those dogs were responsible. What did your neighbor say? Did he apologize or accept responsibility for your cat's death? Are the dogs generally agressive toward you or other animals?

What an awful situation. Could you call or go to your local police station and explain the situation to them (without giving your name and address), including information about the dogs and the growing? Explain that you're afraid of retaliation, and see if they have any advice for you. At the bare minimum, the police will likely know what consequences your neighbors would face if you turned them in. It's possible that you would accomplish nothing except letting your neighbors know that you reported them, in which case that would be a disasterous course of action.

My general feeling about things like this is live and let live, but if you fear for your safety, your pets' safety and/or your personal possessions, it's time to do something. What to do, though, is difficult. I hope someone has better suggestions.

I'm really sorry about your cat, too.
posted by robinpME at 2:25 PM on December 11, 2008

If you want the neighbor gone, why not just report the grow-op (anonymously) and don't mention anything about the vicious dogs.

He, his dogs, and his grow-op will all be gone, if the cops handle it the way cops in my city would.
posted by jayder at 2:36 PM on December 11, 2008

Oh, I see arniec just advised you the same thing.
posted by jayder at 2:36 PM on December 11, 2008

Unlike arniec, I don't think you're in a bad neighborhood because one of the houses is bad. Some people think working class neighborhoods are all bad, I guess.

The issue of whether marijuana should be legalized is completely neither here nor there; the neighbor has dogs that are a nuisance to the neighborhood and I doubt you're the only neighbor that's had problems. If you let this continue the neighborhood will only get worse. Do what you need to do.
posted by cellphone at 2:37 PM on December 11, 2008

I would just move. I know it's drastic--believe me, I know, because my mom just had to sell her house on short notice in a very similar circumstance, for the safety of her remaining dog. But there is nothing you can do to protect yourself from this type of neighbor.

And I'm very sorry about your cat as well. That is horrible.
posted by HotToddy at 2:37 PM on December 11, 2008

It really depends on where you live, but generally if someone gets convicted of having a grow operation the house is confiscated, so should your neighbor get convicted its a pretty sure bet they are gone for good. Now I wouldn't necessarily make this call right away, but if you waited a few months and then did the crime busters thing hopefully it wouldn't seem so obvious to target you for retribution.

I am sorry about your cat, and that you are in this situation.

Decriminalization would have prevented this.
posted by BobbyDigital at 2:42 PM on December 11, 2008

At the very least, report the aggressive dogs immediately. Depending on where you live, elected officials can be helpful in getting action from city agencies (for example, if animal control doesn't respond adequately b/c they are overworked and underfunded, a call from the office of an elected can push you up on their list of priorities). No reason you can't call about the dogs now and the pot in the spring.
posted by Mavri at 2:49 PM on December 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

To those who are suggesting he report the grow-op, note that this:

part of me is thinking wait until Spring and make an anonymous call to the cops about the garden.

implies that the grow-op is not currently in operation. Marijuana's not always in season.

But abso-fucking-lutely report these dogs to Animal Control. Even if they can't actually find enough evidence to conclude to their standards that they killed your cat, they'll still have a complaint on the record for the next time his dogs get out and maul/wound someone else's pet — or someone else. You don't have anything to lose by calling Animal Control, and you and your neighbours could stand to lose a lot if you keep mum. Save the DEA phone call until things escalate further.
posted by Johnny Assay at 2:53 PM on December 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

Report the aggressive dog. Play dumb about the grow op.
posted by gnutron at 2:54 PM on December 11, 2008 [4 favorites]

Having watched a LOT of judge shows lately, this sort of thing comes up a LOT. (A pit bull attack comes up on Judge Mathis at least once a week and Judge Mathis always brings out this chart about how deadly pit bulls are and how they need to be contained properly. In nearly all cases, the animal isn't fenced in properly.)

The fact is, you don't have any evidence that his dogs did it. So, unless he says "Yeah, my dog did it... lemme bake you some muffins," you're pretty much out of luck. If the animals aren't fenced in with a fence that is on his property (i.e., he isn't depending on your fence to keep his animals contained), you may have a legitimate complaint to make to animal control. Or if his dogs aren't leashed or whatever...

On to the next issue. You can call the cops on your neighbor about his growing and possible dealing.

Unfortunately, if you were already afraid, calling the cops after you've already expressed to the neighbor that you think that his dog(s) killed your cat is going to increase the suspicion. It would have been a lot easier if you had called before this incident.
posted by k8t at 3:00 PM on December 11, 2008

Dogs chase cats, even if they're not vicious. Keep in mind that if you call animal control (or the police) regarding a vicious animal, *they're going to put it down*. You're in a shitty situation, but killing someone else's pet in retaliation (especially when it was your gate that was open / your relative who let the cat out) seems like a bit of an extreme step to take. Unless, of course, you feel that you're at direct personal risk.

From your post, it doesn't sound like you do. It sounds like you're upset (rightly so) and looking for retaliation. Which is fine -- but you're also responsible for your own situation. If what you're describing is true (that you really *are* living in a bad neighborhood, in which one would conceivably be worried about retaliation) then why don't you get the hell out of there?

If, on the other hand, your neighbors are just dicks (and lots of perfectly amiable pot-growers are) then maybe you should take a step back and reconsider. Eye for an eye is fine, but I'd think long and hard before I make it grounds for calling animal control. I'd think long and hard before making it neighborhood policy.

Have you (or your neighbor) made any effort to talk to one another regarding the dogs prior to this?

Has there been a documented history of these dogs being aggressive?

This is presumably something animal control would want to know before taking and putting down someone's animal. At least, it would be if they are remotely responsible about these kinds of complaints. All this is not to say I'm not sorry about the loss of your cat. But it seems a bit premature "want the dogs gone" for being poorly trained or just acting on instinct.

No real opinion on calling the cops re: pot in the backyard. Have a field day.
posted by puckish at 3:04 PM on December 11, 2008

Note: If you DO feel threatened by the dogs, by all means call animal control. And I am really sorry about your cat -- I mean that.

I guess the tone of the post is a little off-putting -- the whole "wink wink, nudge" quality to it. It doesn't actually sound like you've ever gotten a chance to know these neighbors -- which, for better or for worse, makes the retaliatory side come off as a little bit unsavory. Less so if you're planning to call the cops on the pot operation (whatever)- more so if you're trying to get an animal put down.

But....your cat got mauled. That sucks. A lot. And if your neighbors are the reason (or most of the reason) they should be held responsible.

Obviously if there are real public safety concerns here, you should act on them.
posted by puckish at 3:15 PM on December 11, 2008

First of all, I am so incredibly sorry about the loss of your cat. Especially like this. I know how hard it is, because something very similar happened to my own cat, when a friend brought her (very friendly, well socialized) dogs over for a playdate with my dogs. My cat slipped out without me realizing it, and what I was able to reconstruct was that my friend's curious dog cornered my cat, the cat swiped a few times (judging by the scratches on the dog's snout), and the dog shook my poor kitty to death. It was a horrible, sad accident. However, it was completely natural. A completely natural territory struggle between two unfamiliar-with-each-other predatory animals. I know that in some ways this is a more difficult way to look at it, but you can also remind yourself that accidents do happen, and that this is one of them.

After saying all of that, I have to disagree with the anti-dog bandwagon happening here. It's a shame, but these things happen. And for a moment on my soap box, it truly has nothing to do with the dogs' breed (good owners:soft cuddly pit bulls::bad owners:evil nighttime news child-mauling pit bulls). That said, would you be okay if the neighbors properly secured their yard so no more escape dog situations were a possibility? Would you be willing to threaten them with reporting their dogs unless they secure your yard? Or are you too upset about the loss of your feline companion for that to be a possibility? Would you even feel safe trying that?

Because in the end, the fact that your neighbors have their guard dogs in an unsecured area is a problem. The fact that your neighbors are engaged in illegal activity -- no matter how misguided one may consider the laws to be -- is a problem. I fully believe that you live in a wonderful working class neighborhood full of fantastic people, with one 'bad' house. And now their problem has become your problem. Thus, I recommend you do any kind of anonymous reporting you feel the need to do. I agree that reporting via pay-phone is the way to go, especially since (at least where I live), cops don't always honor the 'anonymous' part of anonymous reporting. Protect your safety first.

And again, I'm so sorry that you lost your feline buddy. I really do know how much that sucks.

(And on preview, seconding puckish all the way.
posted by amelioration at 3:16 PM on December 11, 2008

Wanting the neighbor gone because his dog may have killed your cat is understandable; and yet, you're quite tolerant of other behavior next door that I personally would be furious about.

For your own sake, do try to distance yourself from what happened to your cat a bit. Yes, it was his dog, and yes, it was your cat, but it wasn't him intentionally sending his dog after your cat. If he hadn't had the car there, perhaps the dog wouldn't have gotten over the fence, and perhaps if you didn't let your cat roam around, he wouldn't have been exposed to danger from dogs. Still, the situation that day was such that this happened, and nobody wanted it to happen, and there's nothing you can do to change it.

So, with that in mind: you didn't mind his illegal activity before, and your cat has already passed, so why do you care about his illegal activity now? The answer, of course, is that you don't -- you're just grieving the loss of your cat and looking to punish someone for it. Totally natural and acceptable. Just don't make a decision quickly that you might regret.

Which means, yes, wait for spring. By then your grieving will have progressed, and you may no longer feel animosity toward your neighbor -- nor the rest of his behavior. But, if you've successfully grieved and still find yourself concerned about the illegal activity next door, the anonymous tipping advice you've received here is appropriate.

Oh, and in the meantime: even if you haven't completed the grieving process, act as if it's not a big deal when you interact with your neighbor for now. You don't want him to believe you're the one who reported him, even if you are the one that reported him.
posted by davejay at 3:37 PM on December 11, 2008 [3 favorites]

I can't believe people think this was an unfortunate accident. It's not an unfortunate accident when pittbulls jump a fence out of their territory and attack another animal in the other animal's territory. Is it the dogs' fault? No. But it's certainly the owner's, who didn't properly train his very aggressive and physically powerful dogs. Unfortunately for the dogs, who certainly deserved a better human. Yes, it's probably very hard to prove he neighbor's dogs did it, but still, if it were my cat, I'd be calling the authorities and have them deal with it. It might be enough to alert the neighbor he needs to be more careful unless he wants the cops (or RSPCA or whoever stranger in uniform it may be) around. And if you rent, I'd really consider moving.

So sorry about your kitty.
posted by neblina_matinal at 4:11 PM on December 11, 2008

if you call animal control (or the police) regarding a vicious animal, *they're going to put it down*

Doubtful in plenty of jurisdictions, particularly without an eyewitness. If the dog had killed a child, maybe.
posted by sageleaf at 4:49 PM on December 11, 2008

Is it the dogs' fault? No. But it's certainly the owner's, who didn't properly train his very aggressive and physically powerful dogs.

I have an incredibly sweet, good spirited German shephard mix who likes to chase barn kittens when we let him outside. We've settled the problem, after a few particularly gruesome discoveries, by keeping him on a very tight leash. We have not been successful at 'training' this impulse out of him.

I can't believe people think this is an unfortunate accident. It's not an unfortunate accident when pittbulls jump a fence out of their territory and attack another animal in the other animal's territory.

This seems a little hysterical, given that nobody actually saw it happen.

The point (one of them, anyway) is that pit bulls are no more rabidly aggressive than any other dog when it comes to chasing cats, or rabbits, or any other exciting and fast-moving target. That's why I asked if there was a history of aggression. Sometimes these things just happen. All the more reason to keep your gate closed, and get your neighbors to keep the dogs locked up.

[Thanks, sageleaf, that's reassuring to know -- I just kind of assumed they had a "shoot first, as questions later" policy]
posted by puckish at 5:55 PM on December 11, 2008

I am very sorry about your cat. I have cats and love them dearly and would be totally sad and furious and grief stricken if one was killed. I think you should talk to your neighbor about his dogs, maybe talk to your other neighbors and then all of you talk to the dog guy together.


That is insane. You state that you have no problem with the operation per se, are not opposed to the product, and oppose stupid drug laws. You do not say where you live but in some states your vengeful snitching could cost a person 30 YEARS in prison! Does this person have kids? an older parent? Miss their childhood? Never see them again? Seriously, is that a reasonable response to your grief over your cat?

Think about it.

I am really sorry about your cat but there has to be another answer.
posted by ijustwantyourhalf at 6:07 PM on December 11, 2008 [10 favorites]

I'd be very cautious about reporting both the cat and the grow op. If they know you're pissed off about the cat, when the grow op gets busted, you're going to seem damned suspicious. Your neighbour might end up in jail and out of the house, but it sounds like he's growing for a biker gang, and I wouldn't want to mess with them, especially if they already know you're angry.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:13 PM on December 11, 2008

If this happened to my cat, it would take me a while to get over the impulse to burn the neighbors' house down with them inside - even if there were other dogs running in the neighborhood who might have killed my cat. I am terribly sorry about how you feel now and what happened to your kitty who was usually indoors.

However, suppose your friend accidently let your indoor cat out. And suppose that very same day, at the good neighbor's house on the other side of your yard, unthinking grandchildren accidentally let a pet bunny out of its hutch, it hopped into your yard, and your cat killed it. What would you want the good neighbor to do?
posted by Lesser Shrew at 7:45 PM on December 11, 2008 [2 favorites]

hello there! I live next to a back yard breeder (worst house, big lots, the whole shebang) - they had huskies. I have chickens and a small dog. Their dogs climbed over the fence and killed two of our chickens (thank god my dog wasn't out), the first time my husband yelled at the neighbor, who promised to watch the dogs at all times. This did not happen.

Legally (here at least, Ontario) it is HIGHLY illegal for someone else's dog, double goes for dangerous dog, to be in your yard, much less killing your pet (I am SO sorry, when I started this post I assumed your cat got into the neighbors yard - how truly terrible for this to happen on your property, and shame on your visitor).

If you call the humane society/city authorities they will be highly interested and remove the dogs for you. If you have a child, tell them you are worried about him/her - if you have nieces or nephews, say the same - and you should be.

lesser shrew - there is a huge difference her because this happened on the OP's property. That is such a huge difference that I can't even stress the vastness of it.
posted by Acer_saccharum at 8:20 PM on December 11, 2008

Oh, and you can report both - I am not sure why people are saying 'either or' - I would sure as hell report both.
posted by Acer_saccharum at 8:24 PM on December 11, 2008

Two things I would wonder about: if his dogs are taken away, will he get more? If your neighbor is arrested/leaves, will other, worse neighbors move in? ( because clearly their landlord doesn't give a damn who he rents to.) At any rate, yeah, if it was my cat, I would also want to burn their house down. I think though, that the real problem, the fact that his dogs can get out of his yard, should be addressed. If he has any sense whatsoever, he should know that this situation is a big problem for him. Letting him know that he needs to make sure his dogs cannot get out of his yard if he does not want you calling animal control might do the trick.

Of course, if you really want him and his grow op to go away, leave an anonymous tip in a few months.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:07 PM on December 11, 2008

Reasons to do something about the neighbor:

-- "the worst kept house on the street" and "one of the cars in their backyard"
-- "a lot of traffic coming and going to the house. Mostly high school-ish age kids, some rough looking dudes on harleys occasionally late at night"
-- "Last year the neighbor decided he needed extra security so he got himself some pit bulls. Three at last count."
-- "the neighbor knocked on our door and said his dogs were missing"
-- "I'm not sure a "you need to get rid of the dogs and pot farm" conversation will go over well"

From these excerpts, I see a large-scale illegal drug operation which (a) causes a lot of traffic, some unsavory, some too late at night to be appropriate in a working-class neighborhood; (b) an animal security force that's not well managed, and that has almost certainly resulted in the death of a local pet; and (c) a general nuisance that can only bring the neighborhood down. The other neighbors are losing home value, possibly losing pets, and certainly losing sleep. Animals that maul children have typically mauled or killed other animals in the past, and while this certainly doesn't mean that animals who have mauled animals will necessarily go on to maul children, the connection does exist (imprecise as it is).

So, how to decide what to do?

You can ignore the propriety of the pot laws. You're not being asked to weigh in on the law, but only on the behavior of the people who are engaging in behavior that is harming you in order to protect their illegal operation.

You can also ignore the consequences to the pot growers. My dad always told me not to do drugs not because they're wrong, but because they're illegal, and this is a fight I just won't win. The neighbors here have chosen to play that game, and the odds have been against them from the start, so I am just not swayed by the plea that they'll be facing 30 years in prison if you call them out on their little operation. Yes, they might face that kind of time. And that was what they knew they were facing when they decided to start their business, so if they truly wanted to avoid that time in the pen, they could have just not started growing dope in their backyard. Or at the very least they could have been excessively careful about not pissing off their neighbors (anybody see Weeds ever?). Being on the wrong side of the law and having the worst-kept house on the block and having ill-contained dogs with a reputation for violence is just asking for it. So ... they asked for it. Let 'em have it. It's not like they're hiding a Jewish person in their attic in WWII. There's no great social value in what they're doing. (Don't get me wrong. I am pro-legalization too. But this isn't exactly a great humanitarian cause. It's just pot.)

And I don't think you can separate their pot farm from the death of your cat because they specifically chose dogs that they thought would be dangerous, vicious, or at the very least scary in order to protect their illegal operation. And, being the poor neighbors they prove themselves to be in so many other ways, they did a poor job of keeping these dogs corralled. So your hurt and anger about the mauling of your cat are directly connected to their growing operation.

All this said ... someone needs to take action to get the authorities to investigate them. But it can't be you because you've just posted this whole story on the internet. Or at least, it really can't appear to be you.

So, I'd suggest NOT calling about the dog attack, because if that leads to an investigation which uncovers their inventory, you're in trouble. Who but you would call about the cat? Instead, hold out a few months, and then start making anonymous calls from a phone booth. Legally, the police cannot do anything like get a search warrant based on an anonymous tip. They need to get the tip from a reputable source to do that. But make the call anyway, ask them to put in some extra patrols, give them good information about when to be there and what to look for, and they're likely to take it seriously. The feds would be particularly interested if the operation is a significant size, the locals if it's big for the area. And even if they don't have an active grow season, they're likely to have some inventory on hand. But give the police the heads-up on how the season is progressing, and they'll bite.

If that fails, call a reporter. They're more likely to take your anonymous call seriously, although they have less power. Give them the story that the police have ignored complaints. Give them a substantially incorrect account of what happened to the cat (so it sounds like someone else told the story to the media, someone who didn't get the facts right).

And if that fails, move. This is not a good scene. But it would be nice if you could help the neighbors, rather than just bailing. Which suggests that the neighbors could give you a hand, if you are able to get their help in a safe way.

Good luck, and I am so so sorry about your cat.
posted by Capri at 11:11 PM on December 11, 2008 [4 favorites]

Me again.

Reasons to chill the fuck out and NOT call the police, have about three seconds worth of perspective, and go talk to the neighbors directly about this problem.

-- "the worst kept house on the street" and "one of the cars in their backyard" and "a lot of traffic coming and going to the house. Mostly high school-ish age kids, some rough looking dudes on harleys occasionally late at night" == "I want these neighbors gone"

Having guests at all hours of the night, last time I checked, is not illegal -- neither is having cars in your backyard -- neither is owning pit bulls (though certainly keeping them properly contained is a big deal). Yes, your neighbors appear to be running an illegal grow operation -- but it's one which, IN THEORY, you say you're totally fine with.

-- "And I don't think you can separate their pot farm from the death of your cat because they specifically chose dogs that they thought would be dangerous, vicious, or at the very least scary in order to protect their illegal operation. And, being the poor neighbors they prove themselves to be in so many other ways, they did a poor job of keeping these dogs corralled."

This is jumping the gun a bit, don't you think? They're also neighbors who are decent enough to knock on the door and let you know when their dogs are loose. I don't see what any of this has to do with dogs getting out and chasing cats -- which happens to anyone, regardless of how well-manicured their lawn is.

But hey! I hate my neighbors as much as the next person. Let's all stand around in a circle and sing about it! God knows, we can't have them single-handedly slashing home values right and left!

On the other hand, if the neighborhood is bad enough that 1) the neighbors opt for an animal security force, rather than just moving their operation inside, and 2) You're legitimately concerned about violent retaliation -- well, WHY HAVEN'T YOU MOVED? At the very least, why haven't you called the police already?

It doesn't sound like the poster is scared. It sounds like the poster is (rightfully) upset, and is out for revenge.
posted by puckish at 2:54 AM on December 12, 2008

Since a lack of witnesses means reporting them for the death of your cat may not have any consequences, I would report the grow-op. No grow-op = no dogs. (And depending on what the laws are like where you live, you could get in trouble for having been aware of your neighbours activities and not reporting them.)

I'd recommend waiting a while, so they don't immediately assume it was you who reported them. Even if there are no reprisals from your neighbours, you'll be pissing off various people involved in their business, which may extend beyond a little home-grown dope and into murkier waters.

Bide your time, keep your cats indoors and if they haven't already gotten busted by summer, nail 'em.
posted by the latin mouse at 4:37 AM on December 12, 2008

Firstly, I'm very sorry about your cat. I know how awful losing a pet can be.

I have to agree with folks who advise not saying peep about the supposed grow op. You only have indirect/circumstantial evidence that it exists. What happens if erroneously report something that doesn't exist and the guy gets raided for nothing? Anyone with even a little bit of brain power will connect the incident with the cat and that action. If you don't plan on moving and value a civil relationship with your neighbor I think this is a really bad idea (not to mention the certainly draconian punishment he would receive if it was real).

As for the dogs, this is tough. Ordinarily I foam at the mouth when I hear about potentially violent breeds not being properly trained, cared for and restrained and it sounds like your neighbor hasn't done his duty to either properly train them or keep them from doing what they may have done to your cat. This is undoubtedly a bad thing, but since you have no direct evidence (i.e. witnessing the attack, witnessing the dogs leaving the scene, etc.) I'm not sure its valuable to go to animal control or the police about them. I have heard enough about this sort of thing to know that if you can't prove it happened they will probably just give the owner a half-hearted slap on the wrist if anything at all. If you had direct evidence it would be a different story. The other factor here ties to my first point- if AC or the police come around asking about his dogs your neighbor is going to know where to turn.

So- my recommendation is to do as others have said and talk to your neighbor. I would tell them that while you don't know it was his dogs you have reasonable grounds to suspect it and would like him to make a better effort to keep his dogs in check (move the car from the fence, keep them restrained,etc.) just as a neighborly gesture of good will.

Even though this doesn't help you get "justice" for what I know is a terrible loss it keeps you from having an adversarial (and potentially dangerous?) neighbor, it hopefully controls the dogs so this won't happen again and it keeps you from making accusations to law enforcement that you can't really back up with facts.

Again, I am very sorry for your loss and I hope this helps.
posted by zennoshinjou at 5:34 AM on December 12, 2008

Lemme get this straight:
1) You have drug dealers living next door. They're not being discreet about it.
2) Their poorly restrained, unsupervised "guard dogs" definitely got out of their yard and probably killed your cat. This display of their natural propensity proves that the dogs are dangerous to everything that moves, in the entire neighborhood.

These, really, are the only facts you need to know. These dicks you live next to, and the blight they bring with them, are the very picture of why we have drug laws in the first place. The laws are not to blame for the high traffic in unsavory persons, noise, dangerous dogs, and other nastiness that drug dealing and prostitution bring with them wherever they go.

I cannot believe anyone is advising you to go talk to these assholes. Hello, they're DRUG DEALERS. If they have dogs, and are running a drug house, they certainly have guns, and bats, and may not hesitate to use them to preserve their lucrative, illegal trade if they percieve you as a threat to their illegal income. These assholes and others like them are why we have cops, and why the cops carry guns.

These guys are not low-lifes because they're growing pot. They're not low-lifes because they maybe smoke pot. They're not low-lifes because they own a couple dogs. Pit bulls are not the problem here. Pot smoking is not the issue here.

The issue is, these guys are irresponsible drug dealers, selling illegal drugs out of their house, next door to YOUR house, to drug users coming into your neighborhood, and probably to other illegal drug dealers, who are also likely armed when they come into your neighborhood to conduct their illegal business. As the frosting on this illegal crime-syndicate cake, they now have dogs that have been proven dangerous, and are failing to restrain them, and those dogs have killed your pet and will likely attack some other critter or child or adult the next time they inevitably escape again.

Cops. Call them. These guys, and their ongoing presence in your block, pose a huge threat to your property, quality of life, pets, neighborhood, any kids in the area, and perhaps your life itself. Call the cops. Narc these inconsiderate criminals out like they killed your cat. Oh, wait, they did already. Call the cops. Call the cops.
posted by BigLankyBastard at 7:50 AM on December 12, 2008 [7 favorites]

Sometimes these things just happen.

Right, especially when you live next drug dealers. And next time it could very easily be someone's kid that those dogs attack. Or it could be you for that matter. I don't agree with the pot laws either, but your neighbors are showing some incredibly poor judgment, and they're endangering others in the process. Calling animal control will hopefully either force your neighbors to control their dogs better or get rid of them. If it doesn't, I wouldn't hesitate to anonymously call the cops on them come spring.
posted by 912 Greens at 11:57 AM on December 12, 2008

If you want the drug dealers out of your neighborhood but don't want to bring the cops in or risk sending anyone to prison, look up who owns the property (this information can often be found on your county assessor's website) and call the landlord and complain directly to him/her about the dogs, drug dealing, grow op, etc. If the landlord doesn't seem to care, remind him/her that he/she could lose his/her property to asset forfeiture because it is being used to grow and sell drugs -- that usually gets their attention. The landlord can then choose to evict the problem tenant.

"Drugs should be legal" does not necessarily equal "people should be growing and selling drugs in such a way that disrupts and endangers a residential neighborhood". I agree that calling the cops on the drug growing/selling is not the best approach because of the probable legal overreaction and harsh penalties, but it's perfectly reasonable to let the property owner know what's going on and let him/her deal with it.
posted by Jacqueline at 5:07 AM on December 16, 2008 [1 favorite]

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