Help me save this pup!
May 11, 2008 9:03 AM   Subscribe

My next door neighbours have a puppy that I believe is being abused and neglected. It breaks my heart to see this. My first instinct is to call the Humanes Society, but I'm not sure if it will result in anything.

He is probably six months old, and a small dog. They leave it outside on its own all day. The weather here has been very cold during the day at times. The summers can get very hot during the summer months (35C). There is no shelter for the dog to go to. It is kept on a leash because there is no fence. The dog is filthy from lying in the mud.

This past week my father saw a family visit with two kids. There was a stroller in the yard, and they were trying to run over the dog with the stroller. They would have been successful if my Dad didn't intervene, at which point the mother of the kids yanked the dog into the house. I've also seen other instances where the dog was put in a precarious position and in distress.

Last weekend a young girl was playing with the dog, and he didn't know what to do. She threw a ball for him to go after and was calling him to her and was cowering away.

I see a lot of behaviour that suggest she is being abused. The occupants of the house are many and they vary. I think that it's the teenage boys (who don't go to school) are particulary cruel to this dog.

I obviously don't have any knowledge of what goes in inside the house, but from the behaviour of the dog I can only guess. I don't believe they deserve to have this dog, and wanted to know if based on the limited information I have if it will be worth calling the Humanes Society.

We have a fence that divides our property, and every time I'm outside the dog comes to me and I pet her, but I really wish I could get her out of this awful situation. I know I'm probably going on mostly intuition, but I can't help feel I need to do something

What are your thoughts/experiences?
posted by cleo to Pets & Animals (17 answers total)
Best answer: so what have you got to lose by calling humane society?

also call your town and see if dog is licensed. if they aren't taking care of it they probably didn't license it. It may force them to take it to the vet for shots
posted by Mr_Chips at 9:08 AM on May 11, 2008 [4 favorites]

Many local police departments have a division to deal with animal abuse (investigation and enforcement). See if they can help out. They are specially trained to determine if a situation is abusive and they have resources and authority to remove the puppy if necessary. Since it is a puppy it will probably have a better chance of being adopted but only if it is taken out of this situation before lifelong bad habits/mannerisms set in.

this might help:
posted by silkygreenbelly at 9:23 AM on May 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

Dogs being left outside during cold and hot weather? Kids occasionally playing rough with the dog before being scolded? Not quite abuse in my book - but the rest, including being on a leash instead of a long tether and unable to find relief from the weather in more temperate parts of the yard throws a big red flag for me.

I don't know what to suggest though. I've heard awful things about people increasing their abuse after a control agency shows up unannounced.

Of course, "disappearing" the dog in the middle of the night and taking it to your friends who live out in the sticks and want a dog is a sort of romantic and tempting option - but that is not the way to go. Too many things can go wrong and it's against the law.

I guess you really have three choices.
1) Calling animal control anonymously and phrasing your complaint so that it's not immediately apparent that you made the call.
2) Ignore things (bad idea)
3) Put on a pair of jeans, a worn looking sweatshirt and an air of casual, but unswerving displeasure (at your task, not your neighbors). Approach them. State your concerns and your wish to see things improve for the dog. Offer solutions, not threats. Maybe the best thing would be to walk over with a good quality tie-down screw and a much longer tether. Offer to help build a dog house. If the mistreatment continues, call your local animal protection agency and don't hide behind a cloak of anonymity.
posted by terpia at 9:24 AM on May 11, 2008

Call the Humane Society. But read this first. My guess is (and IANACL) that you'll have more luck with in-person pressure by you and the humane society than the formal legal process, should it come to that.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 9:26 AM on May 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

Your neighbors sound just like mine. Lots of kids, lots of people coming and going, hard to tell who actually lives in the house. A couple years ago they got a puppy in the autumn, and the kids played with it, though it seemed to live outside permanently. Its only shelter was under an old table in their yard. Eventually, the novelty must have worn off, the weather got colder, and the dog still remained outside, mostly ignored. My husband and I were getting concerned, but one day we looked outside and saw the dog was gone. All we could do at that point was hope that he had gone to live with more caring owners, because the alternative scenario is too horrible. So if you're concerned, please call someone, because otherwise something will happen and you'll just wish you'd made a call.
posted by LolaGeek at 9:28 AM on May 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

If I was sure that a dog was being seriously neglected/abused, I would not hesitate to steal it and and find it a loving home. I think if you go down the road of trying to get authorities and other organizations involved, the neighbors are going to find out it's you and you're going to have further problems after the dog is gone. It's commendable that you're willing to do something about this dog; I wish more people had that kind of conscience; just be sure that you're looking out for the dog's own welfare.
posted by crapmatic at 9:49 AM on May 11, 2008

anonymous tips - one to the Humane Society and the other to the police. You, stay out of the spotlight.

If there is indeed a problem with the dog, and all goes well, the dog will live somewhere else - but you will remain a neighbor to these people. Don't turn them against you.
posted by seawallrunner at 9:58 AM on May 11, 2008

Call the humane society. You will not own this dog. Your neighbors will know, and still abuse him (and possibly you.) Yes, you have shitty neighbors. Don't add fuel to the fire. A month after you do this, get a dog if you want one. Separate the incident of their dog abuse from your getting a dog.
posted by filmgeek at 10:09 AM on May 11, 2008

I certainly wouldn't endorse taking it from their yard to make sure it gets veterinary care and a lot of love with a better owner.

After all, a dog is property more than it is a living being?

So there is no way that I would advise absconding with the poor puppy.
posted by sondrialiac at 10:22 AM on May 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

Does your city have an animal control department, or any kind of on the book regulations dealing with how pets must be treated? In my town (in the suburbs, US) one can get a citation of some sort from Animal Services if your dog doesn't have shelter while staying outside, for instance. I would try to go through the most official routes possible, and don't get antagonistic.
posted by MadamM at 10:27 AM on May 11, 2008

Best answer: cleo: There is no shelter for the dog to go to. It is kept on a leash because there is no fence.

There are many places, at least down here in the US, where it's illegal to keep an unattended dog tethered. (It ought to be illegal everywhere, I think.) It appears to be legal to tether a dog in Manitoba, but you'd probably be best off calling the Winnipeg Humane Society. They will probably be familiar with that complaint and be able to suggest solutions.
posted by koeselitz at 10:40 AM on May 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

Is there an RSPCA as well? You could call them, too.
posted by grobstein at 10:57 AM on May 11, 2008

There is someone in your town whose job it is to investigate animal abuse. If it's not the Humane Society, then the Humane Society can tell you who it is. If the animal is being kept outside in inappropriate conditions, it's even easier because they don't have to get inside to investigate.
posted by winston at 11:49 AM on May 11, 2008

Response by poster: Thaks everyone for your responses. I'm going to first phone the city because I know they have to have the dog licensed, and I'm almost positive this is something they wouldn't do. Second, I'm going to make an annonymous call to the Humanes Society to inquire what they would be able to do in this situation.

What I really want to do is kidnap the pup, give it a bath, and hand her over to a shelter. There would be no problem getting her adopted because she's so darn cute.
posted by cleo at 12:01 PM on May 11, 2008

See if you can find a free or very cheap dog house on something like Craig's list. In fact I bet if you made a plea on one of those sites someone would donate their old one. Then sneak it onto their property. If they are as uncaring about their dog I'm willing to bet they don't care about their yard either and won't get rid of a free doghouse. At the very least it might make it's life slightly less miserable.

You don't want to offer to give them the house as it gives them the opportunity to refuse.
posted by Octoparrot at 12:05 PM on May 11, 2008

Dogs being left outside during cold and hot weather? Kids occasionally playing rough with the dog before being scolded? Not quite abuse in my book

Regrettably, I kind of agree with this. If you're not willing to confront the owners, the options seem to come down to tolerating the treatment the dog is getting, versus the dog going to a shelter and being put down. (What gives you the impression that the dog will be adopted, if it is removed from the home?) In my city, hundreds of dogs are put down in the city animal shelter every day, so any home a dog has where it is not being tortured is probably preferable to death, for the dog.

I realize that you are looking for no-kill options, but I think the Humane Society is probably not going to regard a complaint of neighborhood kids being rough with a dog as a high-priority issue.
posted by jayder at 12:44 PM on May 11, 2008

Your best bet is probably to try to befriend one of the neighbors, independent of the dog issue, and then when they feel comfortable with you bring it up in a non-threatening way. For example tell them you used to have a dog and miss it, and would like to take their dog for a walk or something. I realize this isn't an easy route, and if you're like me you'd prefer to steal the dog and kick your neighbor in the balls while you're leaving, but that probably wouldn't be too productive.

I couldn't agree less, however, with the comment "a dog is property more than it is a living being." Anyone who is abusing an animal has no right to keep it, period. Your only concern is tactical, not moral.
posted by crazylegs at 1:40 PM on May 11, 2008

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