Calling police over loose dogs in a public park: crossing the line?
May 26, 2010 9:06 PM   Subscribe

As I have a dog phobia, how can I feel comfortable in a park on the edge of town where people frequently let their large dogs run loose?

There is a small park in a peaceful location on the edge of my sleepy small town. In the summer evenings, I have often tried go for walks there in the wide open space along the edges of the cornfields. However, it often happens that one or two people will already be at the park (or will arrive after I do) with a large dog, which they unleash and allow to run all over to get rid of excess energy.

Now, I'm a tiny person, and the kinds of dogs people let loose at these parks are both taller and heavier than me. I have a dog phobia to begin with, and the fact that these dogs are running loose adds to my anxiety when in the park. When I see a loose dog off in the distance, I turn around and begin to walk briskly away. But if the dog has caught sight of me, it usually starts racing toward me (sometimes barking) and will sniff and circle me, not heeding its owner's calls for it to stay back. I've never been bitten by a dog, but these incidents always arouse terror in me and make me afraid of returning to the park.

What bothers me most is that this public park has clear signs at both entrances stating NO DOGS ALLOWED. Therefore, I feel I should have a right to enjoy this space in peace, without being terrorized by loose dogs running around. (If the dogs were always on leashes, it wouldn't be a problem.) Yet the signs apparently deter no one, and since various people continue to bring their dogs to the park to run free every night, it seems the community as a whole must not have a problem with this situation--it's just me.

One possible solution for me might be to call the local police (non-emergency) and report any time I see a dog running freely in the park, but I worry that the dog owner will be upset if the police are called for something so "trivial" when the owner is a perfectly friendly person just getting some fresh air and exercise with his or her four-legged friend. I'm not sure the police would even take this kind of complaint seriously, if they would be willing to enforce the NO DOGS ALLOWED rule, when it would basically amount to ruining some older person's evening just so that one nineteen-year-old girl could walk in the park in peace.

Do you think it would be a good idea to call the police to report the owners of loose dogs running in this park, something which is socially acceptable but is ostensibly against park regulations and causes me great distress? If so, how (and how often, and when) should I go about making the complaints in order to be most effective yet not too much of a nuisance? If you think it would not be a good idea to call the police for this, then what strategies could I use to reduce the probability that loose dogs will chase me or to help me cope better with my phobia when dogs larger than I am leap toward me?
posted by datarose to Pets & Animals (61 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
If you think it would not be a good idea to call the police for this, then what strategies could I use to reduce the probability that loose dogs will chase me or to help me cope better with my phobia when dogs larger than I am leap toward me?

Personally, I'd suggest watching some of The Dog Whisperer. Many people debate his training techniques, but I'd argue that his insight into dog-human interactions is very enlightening.

For instance, instead of projecting fear and walking away, a better approach is simply to stand tall, totally ignore the dog and continue on your chosen path. I recognize that this might be difficult if you're afraid of dogs, but it really works: the dogs will pretty much ignore you as well. I use this technique regularly when passing dogs who are "guarding" their property--these dogs often scare me, too, despite being a dog owner myself. [In my village, people let their dogs run loose all over the place. There are no leash laws. Drives me crazy.]

However, if you have a real phobia (not just a fear) this might not work out particularly well. I'd look into working with a therapist of some sort on managing the phobia itself. Dogs are everywhere.
posted by Netzapper at 9:20 PM on May 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

If it were me, I would carry a weapon like a collapsible steel baton and whack any dog that leaped at me.

Um, no. This is a terrible idea on so many levels.

If it's the same people who visit the park most evenings, have you tried to talk with them?
posted by barnone at 9:23 PM on May 26, 2010 [5 favorites]

It's not universally agreed to be socially acceptable. On a neighborhood online forum here there is vociferous disagreement about whether dogs should be allowed off-leash (which surprised me, I too thought most people were OK with it). It's unlikely you are the only person who is unhappy about this situation.

Call the parks department with your concern. They will be able to tell you who to go for enforcement.

I would carry a weapon like a collapsible steel baton and whack any dog that leaped at me.

Carrying such a weapon may be illegal in some jurisdictions.
posted by grouse at 9:24 PM on May 26, 2010

Don't wack a big dog with a baton. That will really not end well for the wacker. I'm not even a dog owner and I'm pretty sure I'd go all Chuck Norris on anyone I saw wacking a dog with a WEAPON! WTF?!?!

Sorry. No help on the park thing. I'd likely go to a different park if my usual place was occupied by an annoyance (screaming kids for me) cause I don't believe that you will be able to prevent dog owners from returning, there would always be at least one rule breaker IMHO.
posted by saradarlin at 9:25 PM on May 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you want to get bit, by all means hit them with a baton. Have you looked into exposure therapy to help you with your dog phobia? At the same time I would call your local city council person or equivalent and complain about the dogs. They have more pull with the cops than your average citizen. However they will probably need an official complaint on the books.
posted by nestor_makhno at 9:26 PM on May 26, 2010

I don't know anything about making complaints, sorry. Although you might want to try your local Animal Control instead of the police

I am a dog lover (especially the big ones) but I completely agree that you should be able to visit the park without being accosted by off leash dogs.

In my experience the bigger the dog the bigger the heart. I know that doesn't make you feel any better, but maybe you could do some research about the different breeds and acquaint yourself to their behaviors. If a big dog sees you coming and you turn and walk away quickly, depending on the breed they may be more likely to chase you. The knowledge might also make you feel more empowered or more comfortable.

I've found with strange dogs that a sharp "NO!" in a low tone of voice with a pointed finger can deter the sniffing and slobbering. It's important to be calm and stand your ground. Talk to them the way you would a really big, incredibly stupid two year old.

I have a giant German Shepherd Dog, and I keep her under my control at all times. There is nothing that pisses me off more than irresponsible pet owners. I manage to exercise my dog without breaking any laws. As much as she'd love to be off leash, I just don't do it. Don't get me started on people who don't clean up after their dogs!
posted by TooFewShoes at 9:29 PM on May 26, 2010

Check the sign barring dogs from the park. If it cites any kind of regulation or local ordinance, the dog owners are probably subject to a fine of sorts. Look up the regulation in your local municipal code and if they're violating the law, you are entirely justified in making a non-emergency call to the police. If the dogs are an active threat to ANYONE's safety, then an emergency call would be justified.
posted by holterbarbour at 9:29 PM on May 26, 2010 [2 favorites]

Not on preview:

If it were me, I would carry a weapon like a collapsible steel baton and whack any dog that leaped at me.

This is absolutely terrible advice.

1) Collapsible batons are illegal to carry in most US states, and illegal to own in many.
2) You can quite easily kill a dog (or human) with one. Legally, it's a deadly weapon, and its use is handled the same way as a firearm or knife.
3) If you struck my dog with a steel baton, you and I would have some serious problems. Depending on how those problems escalated, I might take your continued brandishing of a club as a threat on my life and shoot you.
4) If you killed my dog, and I managed to not shoot you, I would sue you for willful destruction of property. That the property was running free would not necessarily be enough to keep you out of court, or from paying damages. Even if I lost, I would take great pleasure in ruining you with legal fees, and would happily pay them myself so that you would, too.

I'm serious. This advice is, for all intents and purposes, equivalent to saying "carry a gun, and shoot any dog that leaps at you".

If your solution is to cause harm to the dogs who come up to investigate you, I'd suggest pepper spray. It's legal, not lethal, and while there'll probably still be shouting matches, probably won't escalate to the level of physical confrontation that could result in death for some party involved.
posted by Netzapper at 9:29 PM on May 26, 2010 [12 favorites]

Best answer: Let's separate what "should be" from what "is." You have the moral high ground here, but that does not solve the problem each time you go to the park. My guess is that you will meet a new dog-lover each time you go and the police will get tired of responding.

What you might want to do is to work on that fear of dogs that you (quite rightfully) have. I would like to suggest that you talk to a veterinarian or a volunteer at the local (?) humane society. Maybe one or the other of them will allow you to come in and "hang out" with various dogs until you can become more comfortable around them. Start with little dogs that you can get to know on a friendly basis and are known to your mentor. Once you get to understand the way dogs react to you, you will notice what traits evidence hostility and which ones evidence friendly curiosity. When you learn to relax around large dogs, you will not be threatened by their friendliness. It will take time, but in time, you will enjoy the park even though there are dogs around.

Don't get me wrong. There are times to be genuinely afraid of certain dogs. Most of the time, once you get comfortable around dogs in general, it can be a rewarding experience.
posted by Old Geezer at 9:30 PM on May 26, 2010

have you tried to talk with them?

Honestly, some pet owners can get really crazy about this sort of thing. I think that this will be unlikely to make any difference, and it might bring you much more unwanted attention later if you narc on them afterward.

datarose is the one who said she had a "phobia" so I guess that's why people are suggesting therapy. But personally, I would be scared as hell if a dog bigger than me started bounding up to me (like a 200 lb, 6'3" dog? scary!).
posted by grouse at 9:30 PM on May 26, 2010 [2 favorites]

Honestly, some pet owners can get really crazy about this sort of thing. I think that this will be unlikely to make any difference, and it might bring you much more unwanted attention later if you narc on them afterward.

I know, but I was actually asking if she HAD already talked to them, and if so, what they said.

She said it's a sleepy town, and it seems like it might only be a few people with their dogs. Maybe they wrap up dog-time at 7pm and she keeps arriving at 6:30. It's worth figuring out if there tends to be regular dog-time so she can avoid those times altogether. We have a small park that isn't technically off-leash, but folks use it as a dog park from about 5-7pm. Other people are there in the afternoon and seem to know that dogs arrive at 5. So far it's worked out for everyone. There aren't always off-leash dog parks in small towns, and (right or wrong) people will keep to their habits.

You might get further with that then a crusty old sheriff in a semi-rural area... but who knows what the local government/enforcement situation is. This park borders corn-fields -- there might not even BE a "parks and recreation" department.

If you tell us your location, we might be able to provide some more suggestions for your area.
posted by barnone at 9:38 PM on May 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

mrdoodley and I carry Halt, a favorite of letter carriers for umpty-gajillion years. you can buy it in bike shops.

out here in the redneck sticks, dogs and their perceived "right" (including, I guess, the right to be run over) far exceed those of people, and there are at least 20 potential loose dogs on our 2.5 mile residential jogging route - everything from chihuahuas to great danes, with the vast majority being pitbull mixes.

I give dogs the benefit of the doubt, when possible. When I first see them charging at me, I yell at them first - usually "sit!" or "get in the yard!" If they don't break off immediately, I stop and turn, front on them and make myself big, and yell again, "Sit!!"

If they keep coming, I spray them in the face, and then they stop. the pro and con of this is that the dog has to be pretty much right up on you to get an accurate eye shot. OTOH, that kind of destroys the owners' pathetic argument about how "he wasn't going to hurt you." plus you can spray the owners too, if they get really obstreperous. believe me, this is a plate of beans I've spent some time on as well...
posted by toodleydoodley at 9:40 PM on May 26, 2010 [3 favorites]

one more note - sometimes the dogs keep pursuing, but in an escort fashion. you can tell because they break off their trajectory for a path parallel with you, instead of at you. the ears are more forward too, instead of back, as in aggression. I don't spray them then.
posted by toodleydoodley at 9:44 PM on May 26, 2010

Rather than striking someone's dog or spraying it with pepper spray (I would be extremely upset with someone that did either of these things to my dog), how about an air horn? There was a man who used to jog in the park near my apartment, and he carried one in his hand at all times. If a dog came near him, he would blow it and the dog would be scared off.

Although calling the police might address the off-leash dogs on an individual basis, there are probably enough people taking their dogs for a walk that it's not really going to solve your problem. Furthermore, the several hundred dollars in fines they might have to pay might create some serious ill-will between you and your neighbors.
posted by nowmorethannever at 9:46 PM on May 26, 2010 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I understand the inclination to see older people as more important than yourself -- as "real adults", as it were -- but you do not need to defer to these people on the grounds of their age. You may be "one nineteen year old girl", but you have just as much right to enjoy the park as any older person -- more so, in fact, because they're breaking the law, and all you want is for them to not break the law.

Also, it seems socially acceptable because you see the people with their dogs -- you don't see the people who have been run off or who avoid the park because of those people. I'm a dog owner who frequently allows my dog off-leash, but not when people are around and most definitely not in zones that are marked No Dogs Allowed. I would be all in favor of you calling the cops (or perhaps animal control) to complain. Maybe all it will take is a bike patrol officer coming out on one or two evenings and warning people verbally, but you shouldn't feel bad even if people get citations. They have every reason to know their dogs are not allowed in the park, and certainly not allowed to run around off-leash and out of control. Don't let them take your park away from you.
posted by katemonster at 9:57 PM on May 26, 2010

Response by poster: In response to barnone: it's not the same small handful of people who always visit the park, but rather it's a larger variety of different people, one to four of whom will be at the park on any given evening, with one to two dogs total. I have not spoken to any of the owners because as soon as a dog chases me, my instinct is to escape the park. I simply cannot make myself turn around and walk back toward the dog owner for a friendly discussion, knowing the dog will likely jump on me again.

My town actually seems to have a very responsive, friendly police department -- I just worry that officers would side with the dog owners rather than me.

According to our municipal code, dogs "running at large" on village property (which would include the public park) can be impounded by the police. But I'm not sure if a dog running freely in a park (with the owner nearby) is really considered to be "running at large" since the owner is still keeping an eye on it.
posted by datarose at 9:58 PM on May 26, 2010

I've been on the other side of this....there's a large park near my home frequented by my dog and me (many other dogs, too). One woman repeatedly called animal control on me without ever speaking to me. I was annoyed.

Eventually (after figuring out she was reporting me) I simply leashed my dog any time I saw her and left. My dog never came within 100 feet of her. Most dog owners in my area would do the exact same thing if spoken to about a dog phobia.

I knew I was misusing the park, but didn't think it was a big deal because I always kept my dog under voice control and far away from people who seemed uninterested in saying hi. If she had spoken to me about this I could have been more responsive to her and she wouldn't have had to call animal control.

Speak up. Talk with the dog owners. They'll likely be tremendously reasonable.
posted by jz at 9:58 PM on May 26, 2010 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Many rural areas have informal, unwritten arrangements about rights of way, use of beaches, and things like where and when dogs are allowed off-leash. I think it would be wise of you to try speaking with your neighbors about this problem. It's possible that if you show up half an hour earlier or later than you normally do, there won't be any off-leash dogs. It's also possible that, if you become known among the dog people as someone who is legitimately phobic, they will recognize you and keep their dogs on-leash until you're out of sight. Nobody with a large dog wants their dog to scare anybody.

If it helps at all, I am also much smaller than a lot of big dogs, but I love them, and big dogs have never once harmed me, despite being jumped and licked all over by them. Big dogs that are well-loved by people will, much like big people, be hyper-aware of their strength and size, and not want to harm anyone. Often, a playful dog will run up to someone and do a fake-out kind of jump. This is a signal for a desire to play, and at worst would end in you being knocked over, but never being bitten or scratched.

If this is a real phobia, the kind that's debilitating to you when you just think about dogs, you should really seek therapy. If you like living in a small town (and I sure agree with you) you'll be running into dogs everywhere. Your mental happiness is worth it!
posted by Mizu at 10:01 PM on May 26, 2010

I don't know that I'd characterize myself as phobic, I deeply distrust any dog that is more than five feet from its owner.

My daughter, however, loves dogs and will go sprinting to any dog she sees, no matter how big, so I've had to adjust a bit.

IF there are signs up saying NO DOGS ALLOWED, then you should call Parks & Recreation. The cops probably have other business to attend to, and Animal Reg is probably overkill. However, if you call Parks & Recreation and explain that the rules are routinely flaunted, you may get some results. You'll likely have to be patient with this option.

If you're genuinely phobic (as opposed to merely terrified and distrustful like me) I think the above is your best bet. If it's just distrust and terror, I can honestly tell you that it can be gotten past, to an extent. I'm happy to report that I can now stand next to a dog without feeling like I'm going to die. The first thing to remember: Don't run. Trust me, I know how impossible that sounds, but don't run.
posted by lekvar at 10:13 PM on May 26, 2010

I don't know that I'd characterize myself as phobic, I deeply distrust any dog that is more than five feet from its owner.

With good reason. a loose dog with its owner present can be even more dangerous than one with no owner, because the dog may put on a protective, territorial display and interpret you as the aggressor. Furthermore, I've never met a dog owner who responded to a polite request to restrain their dog with anything other than incredulity and contempt at my request. Even if your dog *is* your little baby, she has bigger teeth than I do, and that worries me.

I like dogs. I've lived with dogs. Dogs are really awesome. But I know enough people who've been bitten by dogs to understand that most owners aren't really in control of their dogs. All dogs should be leashed in public.

OTOH, I've never found either police or animal control to be responsive - loose dogs are either too trivial to bother with (absent a real mauling) or outside the scope of their authority. hence my admonition to try to determine the animal's intent (as best you can) and spraying it if necessary, then making your escape.
posted by toodleydoodley at 10:25 PM on May 26, 2010 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks everyone for the advice so far. I'll say again that my reaction to dogs is genuinely phobic. It's not that I dislike dogs or have anything against their owners -- to the contrary, I think they tend to be wonderful animals and people. My phobia prevents me from approaching dog owners directly to make a polite request; at the same time, my high regard for animal lovers makes me hesitate to report unleashed dogs and potentially cause trouble for the dog owners and law enforcement.
posted by datarose at 10:28 PM on May 26, 2010

toodleydoodley: "plus you can spray the owners too, if they get really obstreperous"

I just bought pepper spray for the first time and researched some legalities. If you do this and it is not absolutely crystal clear that there is a physical threat to your life or wellbeing, you will be arrested for battery. See also.
posted by IndigoRain at 10:30 PM on May 26, 2010

absolutely crystal clear that there is a physical threat to your life or wellbeing

this is what I meant by really obstreperous - owners with guns and a good head of natural light ice. do you think I go around macing people for fun? Hunter S. Thompson is dead, and all that gonzo stuff has been done already. I'm just trying to take a nice little jog around my own neighborhood.
posted by toodleydoodley at 10:34 PM on May 26, 2010

instead of projecting fear and walking away, a better approach is simply to stand tall, totally ignore the dog and continue on your chosen path.

Seconding Netzapper's above advice. Dogs have a sixth sense of body language. They can and will, pick up on signals of insecurity and fear.

Buy a bag of Pupperoni or milkbones. Keep several in a Ziplock bag, and take it with you when you go to the park.

When you see a big dog galloping towards you, take a treat out, hold it up, and say in a very firm, deep voice, "Sit!" The sight and smell of the treat should be enough to slow the dog down and/or prevent it from jumping on you. At the very least, it should tip the balance of power in your favor, long enough for the owner to come over and get his/her animal under control. Right then and there would be a good time for you to strike up a friendly conversation with the dog's owner about your phobia.
posted by invisible ink at 10:37 PM on May 26, 2010

No, I don't think you do, but just wanted it clarified, since obstreperous generally refers to verbal action, not physical. It simply bears repeating that you cannot just pepper spray someone who is screaming at you.
posted by IndigoRain at 10:38 PM on May 26, 2010

Dogs hate loud noises that they aren't making themselves. My dog is very verbose (as in loves to run around the house barking to himself just for the joy of it) and the one thing I've found that shuts him down instantly in shaking a tin can with a few coins in it. I'm sure this would help you get the dogs to back off without escalating the situation.
posted by Wantok at 10:44 PM on May 26, 2010

Best answer: As I have a dog phobia, how can I feel comfortable in a park on the edge of town where people frequently let their large dogs run loose?

The best way is to either spend a lot of time with friendly and mellow dogs owned by friends, in order to gradually get used to the dogs at your own pace, or go through therapy to deal with the phobia. You will, I believe, find it easier to change yourself than to change your environment or avoid the phobia triggers altogether.

Some of the other advice above is good, though. The park is unlikely to have dogs all day. Dog owners tend to walk their dogs in the morning, the middle of the day, and after work in the evening, and in many areas tend to show up at set times in order to be around other dogs and dog owners (dogs tire themselves out faster playing with other dogs, and the owners are here to get their dogs some exercise so that the dogs are calmer and happier).

If loose dogs are a chronic problem, or if the dogs ever attack or threaten you (threaten as judged by a non-phobic person), by all means talk to local animal control about it. In some areas, there are strict on-leash laws for dogs.

But what someone said above about some areas being 'unofficially' for dogs is true too. So you may want to suss out with some locals what areas aren't known dog hangouts and see if any of those suit you, too.
posted by zippy at 11:00 PM on May 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

Others in this thread will disagree, but I'd call the officials every time I see a loose dog.

Seriously, as much as I love dogs, I am equally annoyed and perplexed at dog owners who disrespect the "no dogs allowed sign". I mean, what the heck? That's just plain rude.

Alternately, you can take a more roundabout tactic, and tell any dog owners you see, "hey, I saw some park official walking by. They're really starting to crack down on dogs around here--especially unleashed dogs. You might want to keep your dog away from here, or at least have them leashed."

And then, you know, if they keep coming, go ahead and call the authorities.

In the mean time, if a dog comes too close, I've seen people SUDDENLY YELL at it in a very deep, frightening, voice at it and it will back down and leave. (Loud noises work a lot of the time, as Wantok mentions.)

For peace of mind, you can carry pepper spray just in case you get into a confrontation with an aggressive dog, but I think that the chances of that happening will be slim.

Again, I think you are perfectly in the right to call the authorities. People should respect public property.
posted by The ____ of Justice at 11:19 PM on May 26, 2010 [4 favorites]

I think the air horn idea sounds good. If you can, and this might take some courage, I think you should continue with your walk, ignoring any big dogs (I expect you'll find they will then ignore you, as Netzapper said). If the dog does approach you, wait until it's reasonably close (maybe 5m) then give it a blast on the air horn.

Not only will this certainly scare the dog away, the dog owner will also get the message that their dog has been bothering you, and hopefully they'll keep it under better control. It's also non-violent, so you don't have to worry about pepper spray fights escalating into shoot outs.
posted by richb at 1:36 AM on May 27, 2010

Best answer: It's not crossing the line to make a complaint. Perhaps authorities aren't going to pay that much attention to a sole complaint... but maybe other people are reporting the problem as well, and you can add your voice to theirs.

I'm a dog owner, and I take my dog to the park (legally) to let her have a bit of off-leash time, so I'll just give you a few tips beyond making the complaint:

1) Walking away "briskly" is probably not the best mode; many dogs will be more attracted to someone or something moving quickly away from them. In fact, lots of dog owners use it as a trick to get their reluctant dog to come to them - they walk or trot quickly away from the dog ... and most of the time the loiterer comes bounding after them. So, I'd advise moving away in a slower, more relaxed/offhand way.

2) Odd as it may seem, you may do better around the dogs when there are more dogs there. When dogs have other dogs to pay attention to, they tend to mostly ignore any humans on the scene (unless the human is acting in a strange manner that requires investigation). The time for most dogs to be at the park is probably right after work... so you can avoid that time -- or choose that time especially. :)

3) If a dog comes bounding up to you; turn a bit to the side, keep your eyes down or looking to the side away from the dog (just be sure not to make direct eye contact, as in dog body language, this is aggressive), and keep your arms close to your body (let's not be thrashing and waving any limbs about at all). Just keep turning slowly away from the dog, trying always to keep your back towards him. Don't ever run. Basically, you want to BORE him.

4) I wouldn't try the yelling thing if I were you; this is probably a technique for much more experienced people. Even a friendly dog who just wanted to say "hi," might have a startle response from an unexpected loud shout and end up growling or biting even though their original intention was benign.

5) It might help a tiny bit to realize that dogs at a park have almost no reason to attack a person: first of all, they aren't wild/stray pack dogs (this is the worst scenario); they are with their master, and more likely to be friendly/trained/socialized than some random dog on the street; they aren't defending their own "territory" (their house or yard); they aren't eating (guarding their food); they aren't caring for their newborn pups. You aren't small enough to seem like possible prey, you aren't growling or snarling at them, and hopefully you aren't moving your body in alarming, seemingly aggressive ways. So, just try not to get near their owners - which is pretty much the only thing I can think of that is there at all for them to defend. Oh, maybe, don't wear sunglasses; being unable to see your eyes might make some dogs nervous. What I'm saying is that if you must encounter unleashed dogs at all, this is probably the very best and safest setting for it.

The only bad thing is that because these dogs are much more likely to be positively human-socialized and probably regard all people as a potential source of fun, petting, and treats, you are more likely to be approached by friendly dogs. Again, my greatest advice for dealing with unwanted dogs, friendly or unfriendly - be boring. Cast your eyes down, cross your arms against your chest, keeping your feet sort of close together, turn in a tight circle away from the dog, always presenting your back. What a big old bore! you are so boring! *trots off to investigate possible squirrel sign*
posted by taz at 2:44 AM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

Air horn sounds like a good idea. If I was out walking my dogs and saw you pull out a club or a can of mace, then I'd be the one on the phone to the police, but if you made a loud noise and they came running back with their tails between their legs, I'd laugh my ass off.
posted by primer_dimer at 3:27 AM on May 27, 2010

I'd advise against carrying treats - first, a lot of dog owners wouldn't want strangers feeding their dogs, and second, you don't want to encourage the dogs to come up to you.

This is what I'd do. I'd call the parks and recreation department and animal control every time you go and see dogs unleashed. Every time. I wouldn't bother the cops with it, though.

I'd get an airhorn, yeah - you can find small ones in the camping/outdoor area of walmart. And a telescopic walking stick - not necessarily to use against the dog, but you'd have it if that became necessary, and it's fairly innocent, but reassuring to you to have it at hand.
posted by lemniskate at 4:32 AM on May 27, 2010

I'd call.

There is no need for the dog to be off the lead. Yeah, it's more fun for the dog, and an awful lot easier for the owner not to be dragged all over the park while the dog investigates every little thing, but it's not safe.

A stray dog might appear. Someone might freak out and start attacking the dog with a collapsible steel baton. There might be someone who is terrified of dogs in the area. Etc.

There's a sign up saying that dogs aren't allowed. These dogs aren't even on leads. If people were smoking in a no smoking area, there'd be a much bigger fuss. I'd rather have someone throw a cigarette end at me than have a huge dog come towards me with teeth and weight that could do me some damage. The dogs in question might just want to play, but that can all change in the blink of an eye.
posted by Solomon at 4:42 AM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

I would also advise against carrying treats. As a dog owner, I would freak out if a stranger was feeding my dog off in the middle distance where I couldn't stop my dog from ingesting it before I got there.

Call parks & rec because the signs are up for a reason. The people of your town have probably noticed that the signs are not enforced, so people are taking advantage of the situation.

Airhorn, yes, but if a dog approaches you, make sure you simply blow the horn, not blow it at the dog. My concern here is that something so loud directed at the dog within close range might damage its hearing. I'm not saying that you would do this per se, but I'm simply cautioning you against moving the airhorn towards the dog out of fear.

Please, please, please seek exposure therapy for interacting with dogs. Even if you never get to the point of owning a dog, you have to know that if you go out into the world, you're going to see a dog, and a dog is going to see you. Big dogs are scary, for sure, but not all of them are interested in you. Anecdotally, my husband and I used to take our 25-lb dog to Goodale Park in Columbus, OH where there were dogs off leash all the time. One huge Mastiff named Bentley (who weighed about 170lbs, give or take) could care less that people were around. This dog was so massive, slow, and aloof that humans had to approach it to gain its attention.

If a dog approaches you, don't briskly walk away. This will excite dogs rather than deter them. You best course of action is to simply keep moving forward on your walk and to simply not acknowledge the dog. If the dog is hell-bent on getting your attention (which probably won't happen because you will, in time, learn to give off the "I'm ignoring you" vibe), then use the air horn.

Good luck and I sincerely hope that you overcome your fear of dogs.
posted by ThaBombShelterSmith at 5:00 AM on May 27, 2010

Best answer: I am also incredibly phobic of dogs. Because of this, I suspect a lot of the suggestions being made here are not really easy for you to carry out.

If you can't talk to the owners -- even if you want to but end up not doing it -- call.

Yeah, the dog owners probably don't mean any harm. But you know what? They're the ones in the wrong. Not you.

The police -- and whatever department runs the park -- will most likely be on your side. It's their job to be. The city posted the "No Dogs" signs, not you, and they work for the city.

Will you upset some strangers? Possibly. You'd also, as it happens, be helping to prevent a potentially dangerous situation from occurring. Someone put those signs there for a reason.

posted by kyrademon at 5:03 AM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

I love dogs. Have 3 myself. But there are times that I am fearful of seemingly aggressive dogs that look like they might harm my dogs (or now, my baby). I don't know if this advice is remotely possible for you to try given your phobia, but it works for me every time.

When I see a scary dog approaching, I stop, look directly at the dog, pull my shoulders back and stand up super-tall, put my hand in front of me in the "Stop" position, very firmly and loudly (and as seemingly confidently as I can muster) say "NO". This has stopped every single dog in its tracks so far. It also gives the owners notice that I do not like their dog approaching. If there is no owner around to corral their dog and the dog lingers, I muster the courage to repeat the above and take one step towards the dog. I maintain strong, confident body language the whole time and never waver in my eye contact.

Every dog I have done this too has turned and walked away--even terrifying street dogs in Mexico-- which is good because I carry a dog pepper spray with me. I have never had to spray a dog using this approach--but I absolutely would.

(Truth be told that I am a quivering mess after the dog leaves, but I am safe).
posted by murrey at 5:26 AM on May 27, 2010

I've been a dog owner my entire life, but I want to add my voice to those saying you should call the authorities and get them to enforce the signs. Dog owners that let their dogs impose themselves on anyone who doesn't welcome them are very wrong. You should be be able to enjoy the park without fear.

If the town refuses to enforce the signs, they should take them down as they are clearly meaningless. Allowing dogs in a park where it is posted that they are not allowed is just silly and wrong.

Please, no weapons. That would just make things worse in this case.
posted by rglasmann at 5:37 AM on May 27, 2010

How about using a battery-operated ultrasonic dog repeller? If it works (don't know that it does) it should allow you to stop a dog coming near you without harming them.
posted by Parsnip at 5:53 AM on May 27, 2010

Best answer: Geez, don't carry treats and give them out, even if you make the dog sit first! That's just going to encourage them to approach you all the time, which is exactly what you don't want.

My phobia prevents me from approaching dog owners directly to make a polite request

If you decide to call the authorities, make the above clear to them, so that they will hopefully mention it if/when they talk to the dog owners. I agree that talking to the owners first is best, but if your phobia is that bad, you really want people to know about it.

Other options to reach the dog owners - would you recognize any of them in town (at the store or whatever?) when their dogs aren't around? Does your town have a community Facebook page, or some other electronic means of reaching many people? What about a politely-worded letter to the editor of the local paper? As a last resort, could you post a flyer at the entrance to the park?

You'd also, as it happens, be helping to prevent a potentially dangerous situation from occurring. Someone put those signs there for a reason.

Probably no more dangerous a reason than to prevent the dogs from ripping up the landscaping or native plants*, but your point is still valid.

*We have a local NATURE PRESERVE with a NO DOGS ALLOWED sign (even leashed ones!) and still irresponsible morons let Fido romp through the forest and I have to dodge dog poop on the walking trail. WTF, people??
posted by SuperSquirrel at 5:59 AM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Have you thought about calling the non-emergency number from home, when you're relaxed and feeling safe and calm, and asking the police what they (or you) can do about this?

If your town is small and the police are generally friendly and responsive, you should feel free to call the non-emergency number and say, "I go to the public park on Walnut St. and even though there's a large sign that says 'No Dogs' I frequently see people letting their large dogs not only in the park but also off-leash, and I have a serious dog phobia so I can't even approach these groups to ask them to put the leashes on. I've been chased and cornered by off-leash dogs several times there, and it's really scary. Is this something you could help me with? What should I do?"

They may be able to send a bike cop through that area more frequently, or they may say that you should call them whenever you see a dog in the park, or they may have another solution, or they may say they can't help (I doubt it, as the city put up the "No Dogs" sign). You won't know until you call, and you should feel free to do so. Find another outlet to address your dog phobia: no one should be letting their dog off-leash in a park that doesn't even allow dogs in the first place, you don't need to accommodate these irresponsible owners.
posted by Meg_Murry at 6:11 AM on May 27, 2010 [3 favorites]

I'd also add--I've had mixed results calling city offices or police stations in terms of getting the final outcome I wanted, but I've never been told "You shouldn't have called us." In my experience, the worst thing that has happened is they've said, "Sorry, that's not our responsibility, you have to call this other office."
posted by Meg_Murry at 6:15 AM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm a dog owner of dogs that I can't take off-leash (even if I wanted to) in a non-enclosed urban area, and other dogs off-leash really piss me off, and even more so their owners piss me off. It's one of the most anti-social things a dog owner can do, short of not cleaning up after the dog.

In my case - I have basenjis and they're runners, but will happily chase whatever they have their eye on across a street, highway, or otherwise "through" danger without a thought... so they stay on their leash all the time (except at an enclosed dog park or backyard). The thing is, as runners, when they're on leashes and another dog comes up to them, the fact that they're constrained means they're nervous as hell. Removing the option to flee totally freaks them out in such a circumstance. Half the time MY dogs end up seeming like the aggressive ones because (to them) their only response available is to growl and nip.

(Note that in a dog park they're champs with other dogs of all sizes, no aggression or anything other than healthy play).

In the past my personal response has been to keep a careful eye on the unleashed dog and yell at the owner. Usually some cuss words involved in that exchange.

I have also gone to speak with the local police in the past, to calmly clarify what is the bylaw, is it enforced, and just to let them know that at least one person, me, would really appreciate if they could do something about it, at least write a couple of tickets as a deterrent.

To ThaBombShelterSmith - if you don't want random people feeding your dog treats (a tactic I've seen used many times), keep them on their leash so they can't interact with people without you present.
posted by mikel at 6:19 AM on May 27, 2010 [7 favorites]

I also happen to spend time in a park where people feel free to let their dogs off-leash, even though it is not legal (they also feel free to not pick up the dog poop, but that is another issue).

If you can politely approach these people, say how pretty the dog is (I know you dislike dogs, not my favorite either, but just lie about it, it's fine) and then say, you know, I don't know if you're aware, but this park is not an area where dogs can be off leash. Just a friendly update, because you know, they might not know.

Which, odds are IMHO, they do know, but they may not. And sometimes all it takes to get someone to do the actually right thing is to remind them that there are people around who know they are doing the WRONG thing.

Other than that, asking the municipality to enforce its own laws W/R/T dogs off leash is one of the reasons why you pay taxes, and it's a quality of life issue. In my own neighborhood, we had an escalation of dogs off leash, practically throwing themselves in front of our cars, all that fun stuff, and while the first couple times I just assumed it was a random loose dog, I called the cops after it had happened several times and I didn't think twice. Sometimes being off-leash may be FUN for the dog, but it may also be dangerous (parking lots where people are not expecting off-leash dogs, for one).
posted by Medieval Maven at 6:32 AM on May 27, 2010

What if you campaigned for a fenced-in dog park? As a dog owner, it is really nice to be able to let my dog run in a big park, and would definitely be preferable to letting her off-lead in a place that she could potentially run into a road or harass someone. It sounds like there'd be a lot of people in your community that would support such a park.

Just as an FYI- simple phobia is one of the most treatable mental disorders out there. Exposure and response prevention is incredibly effective. I'd really encourage you to seek this out, just because it sounds like this is causing you distress and interfering with your life.
posted by emilyd22222 at 6:49 AM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

mikel: just to point out, we do keep our dog on a leash since a larger dog attacked our dog when she was a puppy. also, i've never seen anyone ever give another person's dog treats, ever. i'm not saying that you haven't seen it, but i've never seen that ever. my assumption is that giving a stranger's dog treats is simply a no-no, unless permission is given first.
posted by ThaBombShelterSmith at 6:51 AM on May 27, 2010

Call Parks and Recreation or Animal Control. Ask what you should do when you see dogs in the No Dogs Allowed park, on or off leash.

We have three dogs we take to the park. They're all small, and would only run up to someone to say "hi", but we don't allow it. One never comes off the leash, the other two go back on if we call them and they don't listen, or if we come within about 20 feet of other people or 100 feet of other dogs. We're not taking the chance at annoying or putting in danger our pups, other park-goers, or their pups. It's not worth it.
posted by owtytrof at 7:01 AM on May 27, 2010

The problem is not you. It is people not taking care of and protecting their dogs properly. Please do complain to the police.

Then you can go find responsible dog owners who love, train and care for their dogs, perhaps at agility trials or a dog training club, and work on your fear of dogs, if you want to.
posted by QIbHom at 7:03 AM on May 27, 2010

Best answer: My phobia prevents me from approaching dog owners directly to make a polite request

As a current dog owner and former phobic, the problem is not with you, it's with the dog owners who blindly ignore the fear that an uncontrolled dog can generate. It's not appropriate or acceptable for them to not keep their dogs under control. They should be absolutely mortified over losing voice control and allowing their 'gentle giant' (or whatever) to scare someone. Regardless of its size, you're not expected to know whether the dog has bitten or attacked people before, and you're definitely not expected to be able to control a strange dog when its owners' can't. The goal is to give the owners strong motivation to take their dog to recall training, or at the very least, get them RUNNING AFTER THEIR DOG so they're within physical intervention distance, and give you an apology.

So how do you convey that serious fear to the owners? Screw polite discussion. Scream bloody murder. Yell for help. If there's a strange dog running at you, it's totally ok to put your arms up defensively and scream like you're scared. This strategy won't allow you to control the dog's behavior-- but that's the owner's job. And you need them to step outside their bubble where it's ok. If there is a discussion afterward, don't apologize for your reaction or your phobia. Uncontrollable dogs running at you are scary.

You: "Your dog started running after me, and I was scared"
Them: "Oh, he just likes to play!"
You: "Well a strange dog running after someone is scary"
Them: "He wouldn't hurt anyone! He doesn't know his own strength!"
You: "He's pretty scary when he's running after me like that"
Them: "Wow, I'm really sorry!"
posted by Gable Oak at 8:18 AM on May 27, 2010 [9 favorites]

Also, I became a former phobic by spending a week staying with a friend who had a loving, mellow, gentle older dog and being inspired to get a pup-pup of my own. This was after 20+ years of only meeting the jumpy, slobbery, clawing, biting, destructive dogs of my friends/family who made no attempts to control them, AND listening to the "well, he was just..." excuses afterward.
posted by Gable Oak at 8:32 AM on May 27, 2010

What about a Dear Neighbor poster, maybe even with your pic?A nice precursor to calling the cops or using an airhorn.
posted by salvia at 8:43 AM on May 27, 2010

What about a Dear Neighbor poster, maybe even with your pic?A nice precursor to calling the cops or using an airhorn.

Meh, I guess I can't be as sympathetic as the "be gentle on the dog owners who feel impervious to the law" crowd here.

The sign says "no dogs." Why is it so hard to follow the sign? Just because it might, heaven forbid, dampen somebody's fun?

If dog owners are willing to break city codes, I think they should be willing to deal with consequences because of it, and not expect gentle admonishment from a fellow citizen.

Yes, there are responses that go overboard (tasering any approaching dog) but there are also reactions that are coddling people who think the rest of the public should be beholden to their desires.

I guess my point is: datarose, you seem like a very considerate person, and you feel guilty about calling the authorities. You shouldn't. You may be preventing some native plants from being trampled, an ugly dog fight that will break out from two unleashed dogs, a dog making a run for it and getting hit by a car, etc. etc. The number of owners whose dogs have 100% recall is pretty small. By the sounds of it, the owners of the dogs at your park are not the most responsible, if they can't make their dog come back to them on command. They are also being jerks for thinking they are somehow exempt from the rules, and are making the rest of us look bad.

If you call the authorities, you can count on at least one dog owner (me) who will thank you.
posted by The ____ of Justice at 12:01 PM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

Meh, I guess I can't be as sympathetic as the "be gentle on the dog owners who feel impervious to the law" crowd here.

Oh, ha ha, I'm not of that crowd and didn't mean to reinforce it. But just listening to the crowd here, the poster seemed like a good balance between jz's request for a polite request ("One woman repeatedly called animal control on me without ever speaking to me. I was annoyed... Talk with the dog owners. They'll likely be tremendously reasonable.") and the OP's inability to approach the dog owners. Depending on the responsiveness of the police department, the personal request might be more successful. However, I totally agree that disregarding the dog rules is rude and wrong.
posted by salvia at 12:26 PM on May 27, 2010

Could you ask a friend to come with you and talk to the owners for you, explaining your situation (and you are in the legal right as well, btw)?

That might be a good 'step 1', after which, if you need to, you can call animal control. If it is a small, sleepy town, animal control will probably just give them a warning.
posted by Vaike at 1:00 PM on May 27, 2010

First, let me say that I have many dogs I adore unspeakably, and I would never in a billion years take them to a public place unleashed (we have a county-wide leash law) and never, EVER take them to a place with "No Dogs Allowed" posted. Jesus Christ, some people are so fucking selfish and irresponsible, it makes me want to spit.

I can't favorite taz's comment enough; it's absolutely dead on.

When you encounter a strange dog, be quiet, avoid eye contact, but placidly and confidently keep going where you're going (or veer off very gradually). Be dull, be indifferent.

Try to avoid yelling or screeching (which we can all do involuntarily when we're startled or alarmed) -- that can excite a dog -- "Oh, cool, let's all bark real loud!" Or it can signal insecurity and instability, especially if it's high-pitched and loud. When dogs want to say "no" to other dogs, they often don't get louder, just lower-pitched (bass rather than soprano) or more abrupt.

What works best on my dogs is a fairly low, firm, slightly drawn-out "Unh-uh" or "Nuh-uh" with neutral body language -- and then sort of visibly tuning out their existence: "I do not deign to notice you." This is pretty much how my big old male acts when the young little dogs pester him.

The way to get good at this is to practice, practice, practice at home in non-scary situations, with friends, with cats, with a friend's very laid-back dog. That makes you more confident and able to do it naturally in more stressful situations.

And please do report the people violating the "No Dogs Allowed" rules to the parks department. That is just so obnoxious!
posted by FelliniBlank at 6:48 PM on May 27, 2010

Best answer: Just chiming in to nth that

* your phobia is not really the issue here; the issue is that some dog owners don't think the rules apply to them
* you have EVERY RIGHT to enjoy the park without being bothered by off-leash dogs

I really strongly encourage you to call both the (non-emergency) police and the park department - not (at first) to make a specific complaint but to ask what they suggest. Let them know what your concern is and ask them what they recommend. If they aren't helpful, well, you haven't really lost anything, and at least you know how local law enforcement sees the issue. (And if they in fact are not helpful, you can also call your local city council member and ask for more suggestions there. The laws are definitely there for a reason.)

FWIW, I have called park rangers both to report dogs trampling endangered areas and also to report unsupervised kids trampling endangered areas. The rangers aren't always able to respond immediately, but they've always thanked me for calling and they've often been able to stop more damage from being done.

And also

* giving dogs the "I'm ignoring you" cold shoulder is often pretty effective in getting them to leave you alone

I'm a tiny female (under 5 feet tall). I am often approached by friendly but unstoppable off-leash dogs. Saying "No!" rarely works for me, no matter how firm and loud and deep I try to make it. If they're not actually leaping on me, though, ignoring them usually makes them lose interest in me. Note the difference between acting afraid and acting bored. In my experience, dogs are really social creatures who use eye contact to engage socially and make friends. By basically snubbing them, I let them know I don't want to engage and they go off and sniff something somewhere else. (I usually feel bad about it - poor dog, it's not the dog's fault I have to enforce a boundary ... but that's the mechanism I've learned to let dogs know I'm not going to play with them.) I know this technique may not be something you can do right now, but if you want one additional tool in your belt for dealing with dogs, it might be worth practicing it - especially if you have a chance to do it around dogs who are ON a leash and you know can't reach you anyway.

But specifically in answer to your question:

"Do you think it would be a good idea to call the police to report the owners of loose dogs running in this park, something which is socially acceptable but is ostensibly against park regulations and causes me great distress?"

YES. I definitely think it's a good idea to talk to the police and whatever other agencies may be appropriate.

And remember it may appear to be socially acceptable among the folks letting their dogs off-leash, but you're part of society, too, and so are a bunch of other folks who may want to use the park without having to dodge dogs. You have a right to be there. Don't be afraid to claim it.

For some interesting related perspectives (including lots of dog lovers and dog owners who really dislike other owners letting their dogs off-leash where they're not supposed to): previously.
posted by kristi at 9:03 PM on May 27, 2010 [2 favorites]

I am a dog owner, but I'm also the close friend of someone who recently overcame an acute dog phobia.

I think that people saying "it's not your phobia, it's the dog owners" are not entirely correct, and I'd like to illustrate why I think addressing the phobia directly is the most important thing here.

You have a phobia, which is going to be triggered any time a dog is around. Unless you stick to the few places where dogs cannot be, you will suffer from this phobia. That's incredibly limiting.

At the same time, I am taking a leap here, but I think the laws about dogs and parks are designed to keep the parks clean (and possibly keep children from getting knocked over). It is unlikely that the law is intended to protect the dog-phobic. I am not using this to explain that the dog owners are in the right - I do not think they are - but I also think that it is an odd reading of the law to say that the issue here is not a phobia of animals. If the dogs are well behaved, and the owners are in control of them and clean up after them - then absent the phobia, we would most likely not be having this discussion. So while I agree that the owners may be breaking the rules, I think that viewing the rule violation to the exclusion of the phobia is missing a big issue.

The poster here is asking what the best way is to deal with a phobia. No calls to the local pound will get 100% compliance, and the poster will thus have to deal with the phobia until the phobia itself is dealt with.

So I would say, yes, the poster is of course within their right to call the park department or the pound, and I certainly would if I saw out of control behavior at a park, ordogs at a park designated for small children (safety issue), or dog poop all over the place, but I would recommend that the poster, whether or not they call in reinforcements, find help with the phobia.

I know how hard it is to have a phobia, and I've seen how this particular one affected my friend, which is why, no matter what route you take dealing with the local park, I hope you can find a path to diminishing or overcoming the phobia. Good luck!

disclaimer: dogs are allowed at the majority of my community's parks, and the local law counts 'under verbal control and in sight of the owner' as 'on leash.' That said, I keep my dog on leash 95% of the time in parks that aren't designated specifically for dogs.
posted by zippy at 12:00 AM on May 28, 2010

Whether or not the OP has a phobia or is the most dog-friendly person on the planet is immaterial. There shouldn't be dogs in that area. The OP has more right to be in that area than the dogs do.
posted by Solomon at 3:20 AM on May 28, 2010

No disagreement here that the poster has a right to be in the park, and the dogs do not.
posted by zippy at 5:56 AM on May 28, 2010

Best answer: absent the phobia, we would most likely not be having this discussion

I don't think that's the case. We should be extremely wary of dog owners who ignore things like "No Dogs" signs or who let their dogs off-leash in inappropriate areas because it says something about the level of thought the dog owner is putting into his choices with regard to potential consequences (it says, specifically, that the dog owner isn't as concerned about and attentive to public safety as he should be, he's over-confident in his abilities with his dog, or he's ignorant of the risks he's taking). The only reason we wouldn't be having this discussion on AskMe if the OP didn't have her phobia is that she wouldn't need to ask Metafilter if it would be appropriate for her to call the police or animal control because she would know that it would be appropriate. She would know that it would be a reasonable reaction to irresponsible dog owner behavior. As it is, she can't tell if it's her phobia or common sense telling her to call the police about this issue.

The reason I think it's important the OP feel empowered to call police/animal control/park services is so that she can move on to seek a way to manage her phobia in safe contexts. Yes, she's going to encounter dogs in places where they are allowed, and she's going to have a phobic reaction, but that's different from reacting with fear to large, off-leash dogs in an area where dogs aren't allowed, which isn't an entirely irrational phobia response. No doubt the OP's phobia would heighten her reaction, but it's legitimately frightening to be around dogs kept by people who don't adhere to the obligations of dog ownership (this comment gets at the issue), not because all such dogs are dangerous but because some of them are and many more can become dangerous if the situation takes an unexpected turn (ex., the dog gets frightened or startled or sees its owner getting into a confrontation with someone asking him to leash his dog). The OP needs to both address her phobia in a safe way (though that wasn't her question) and feel empowered to address legitimately dangerous instances of encountering dogs despite her phobia (which was her question).
posted by Meg_Murry at 7:44 AM on May 28, 2010

Call your police station and ask them what to do. We have a problem with off-leash dogs in our neighborhood park, and the police have been helpful and friendly. There's one particular cop we're supposed to call about this -- it's his job, he wants to hear from us -- which helps with the "oh no I'm wasting valuable police time" feeling. After a bit of prodding from a few people, the police put up signs and started issuing fines.

Or at least they say they issue fines. Dunno if they actually do. We still have off-leash dogs despite the helpful and friendly officer grrrr
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:20 AM on May 28, 2010

No, I don't think you do, but just wanted it clarified, since obstreperous generally refers to verbal action, not physical. It simply bears repeating that you cannot just pepper spray someone who is screaming at you.
posted by IndigoRain at 1:38 AM on May 27 [+] [!]

quite right and I'm sorry for being a tool about it. my bark is definitely worse than my bite ;-)
posted by toodleydoodley at 8:00 PM on May 28, 2010

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