Our 5-year old son was attacked by our neighbor's supposed "service dog”!?!?
So our neighbor has a service dog due to his PTSD. He also fosters other service dogs-in training. Back when I did search & rescue, there were people in my organization who trained service dogs (it was their full-time job, SAR was their hobby), so I got to witness some quality animals who were always calm and very well trained. I've also seen many service dogs while out and about, and none of them ever acted up or made me think they weren't service dogs. Maybe I was experiencing the cream of the crop, or was just lucky enough to see the good ones.
I've never been impressed by this particular neighbor's dogs, as I hear them growling, barking, whimpering, whining and basically misbehaving (if they are indeed service dogs) all of the time (or they're really just acting like normal untrained or barely trained pets/dogs). I even hear my neighbor in his yard hitting and beating and cursing at his dogs when they don't listen to him. I've researched the service dog company that donates these dogs, and it looks as if they are taking random dogs out of shelters, giving them some training to pass simple tests, and then giving them away for free as "supposed" service dogs.
Well, his main personal fully-trained service dog was accidentally let out of the house by one of his children. I don't even think he was home (not sure why his dog wasn't with him as he's usually with him whenever he goes somewhere). This dog ran into our yard and chased our son, who was playing with the neighbor's children. Their children screamed at and grabbed the dog and dragged him back inside their house. Within minutes, the same child went in and out again, again letting the dog escape a second time. The dog ran back into our yard, chased our son, clamped down onto his hip and bit him, leaving the 4 canine bite marks and puncturing/bruising his skin. My wife was home with windows and doors open, but the screaming kids sounded like kids playing (these particular neighbor kids are always loud and screaming). When my wife heard crying, she came out to investigate. By that time the dog had stopped biting and chasing my son, as I believe the neighbor kids again grabbed the dog and were in the process of putting him back inside. That's when my wife found out that this happened twice, but the first time the dog was grabbed before he could bite. The neighbor's parents never came out, and I don't think their children ever told them about the incident because there's been no apology. My wife is friendly with his wife, and she's been waiting until she sees her outside to go over and make her aware of what happened. My wife is an introvert and doesn't want to go over there if they are both home, with or without me. She also wanted to figure out the best way to approach this so they don't try to turn this around on us and claim it's our son's fault that it happened. She's been asking friends who might have experience with this sort of thing. Our kids have never been attacked before, so this is new to us.
This service dog in question happened to be a pit bull. I have nothing against pit bulls, and I would own one in a second. I've been around plenty of them in shelters as a volunteer and with friends/co-workers who owned them. But I will admit that the majority of attacks on our dogs have come from pit bulls, and now 100% of the attacks on our children have been from a pit bull who is supposedly a service dog. It blows my mind.
So on top of this, last night we were at the vet with our dog and an older couple brought in 4 service dogs, all wearing SERVICE DOG vests. These dogs were barking and going ballistic as soon as they walked in the door and saw the other dogs in the waiting area. The vet staff told us that the service dogs don't get along with other dogs, so this couple was given a room to go back to before all of the other people who had been waiting longer.
These 2 incidents got me thinking: have service dog requirements suddenly been relaxed? I've never seen service dogs attack people, children, other dogs, or even act up while out in public. Usually they are very calm, focused, and doing their job 100% of the time that they are with their person. I know there are plenty of people parading around with their pet claiming it's a service dog just so they can bring the dog anywhere and everywhere. Sometimes it's difficult to differentiate real SDs from pet "SDs". But in both cases here, they are confirmed SDs.
The situation with my son getting bit is a sticky one, as we want to stay on good terms with all of our neighbors for various reasons. Our son's wounds have healed (though my wife took pictures of the bite marks as proof just in case we ever need it), he doesn't seem to be traumatized in any way towards dogs which is good, and we established new rules that our kids are not allowed to play outside if the neighbors are home. I understand that a dog attack can happen in seconds just as this one did, and that the next time it could be fatal (for our kids or any of the other neighborhood children). We want to make this dog's owners aware, and make our other neighbors aware, because a lot of our neighbors have small children and sometimes they're allowed to wander the neighborhood unsupervised. With this possibly vicious dog under the guise of a service dog title being allowed to escape and roam the neighborhood, we worry for other children's lives now.
Last edited by Wulf; 11-02-2016 at 04:51 PM.