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I talked to the Animal Control officer in the town next door. She said they reserve "dog at large" tickets for the dog raiding the neighbor's trash while the owner is asleep on the couch type incidents. Anything else, usually a different law applies (or nothing applies, and there is no ticket). For example, dog raiding a chicken coop would not be at large, but either a menace or vicious- different ticket.

This whole thing seems like such a waste of time and effort- but I am of course taking it very seriously now. With dogs' safety #1 priority.
I had a neighbor who hated me, hated my dogs. No reason, just because I asked her to please stop letting her dogs jump on my fence and bark at my dogs.
When Shadow was about 4 months old she slipped out my screen door on day and bolted out to see the dogs walking by. Husband was hot on her heels and scooped her up immediately but not before he got bitten by crazy ladies dog and screamed at for Shadow attacking them.
AC showed up and I was ultimately given a ticket for dog at large, which I deserved, but the story she gave was that Sabi had leaped over the fence and attacked them and they only escaped injury because her dog managed to fight Sabi off and drive her back into my yard. Fortunately the guy had half a brain and realized that Sabi was not involved and little wiggle butt Shadow had not "attacked" anything. He was a good guy, but over the course of the next few years I had AC and/or the police at my door at least once a week. And I always had to go back and explain that yes I had been given a ticket, but the complaint on file was totally false.
Much more frightening was that about a week after the incident I went out with the girls to check the front yard in the morning and noted an oddly colored patch of snow in the center of the yard. Testing revealed that the substance was antifreeze and the placement of it meant someone had walked into my yard to put it there. I don't ever keep antifreeze on the property. Two months later a package of strychnine soaked ham appeared next to my doorstep. Again someone had to enter my yard to place it there.
Get a lawyer and be very, very careful. With you and your dogs.
 

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Steve- yes. There is no real number of complaints, as a far as taking dogs goes, but certainly this is not a good thing and needs to be addressed immediately. This is why I need to hire a lawyer who will take this very seriously and is not afraid to call out the local police (in other words, not a local lawyer like I had originally who wants to keep good relations with police to work out deals for clients).

I will be moving, at some point, but it's not super easy to find appropriate property that is affordable close to work... we have a real affordable housing crisis being a tourist town - within driving distance of a city where people often earn double what you'd make here for the same job... and then buy a vacation home and AirBnB it... same old story lots of places.

Luv Shepherds- if this was being dealt with by an Animal Control officer I think the outcome would be very different. That sounds miserable!
well said!
 

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My biological dad, who I saw 3-4 times as a child, had some warring feud with the neighbors and their kids. So one summer my mom packed me up and forced me to spent the summer with my “dad.” Details are fuzzy because I was a kid, but my dad owned a beautiful long coat shepherd named Sam. That was the only good thing to happen to me that summer. I spent all my time outside playing and grooming Sam. He was an amazing dog to me. Next summer, packed up again. I was so looking forward to seeing Sam again. Got to his house, ran to the back door to see Sam, and a huge bully breed came snarling after me. Apparently the feud got worse during the year, and I’m not sure who started it, I think it was my dad, he was a real piece of work, but the neighbors dogs all died of poisoning, as did Sam. I remember my dad bragging the he had poisoned the neighbors dogs. I called my grandpa that day and had him come pick me up, and the was the last I saw of my dad until I was 20, and it was a chance meeting in the only Home Depot for a very long distance. Didn’t even acknowledge him.

So yes, please keep an eye out on your dogs when they are out doors. My dad threw a few steaks over the fence in the middle of the night to kill the neighbors dog. It’s hard to believe some people would be okay with that, especially since they never once fought over each other’s dogs, but that’s how far it escalated. And there are crappy people out there that are completely capable of killing a dog with no remorse.
 
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