Wednesday, April 16, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Please follow our leash laws

The Needham family adopted Charlie, a 2-month-old terrier mix, from Kritter Kamp Rescue in Elk Grove.   Courtesy photo

By Jason Needham

I used to be mildly annoyed when I would see dogs running around off leash. I have two small kids (10 and 5) who have been chased once or twice by “vicious” little dogs. The result is that they have spent much of their short lives generally terrified of dogs. However, my oldest son recently decided that having a dog was the only thing he wanted in life.

I am not a dog person, as my experience with dogs has been biased due to irresponsible owners who let them do their business in my yard and leave it there, let them bark all day and night, or as mentioned previously, allowed their off-leash dog to chase my very young kids. But, my wife and kids finally wore me down and we decided that getting a puppy would be good for the family.

My wife researched the perfect dog for us. We needed one that was somewhat hypoallergenic due to asthma issues in our family, one that was small enough to fit within our little household comfortably, and one with the right temperament so that our somewhat skittish kids would have the best chance to bond quickly.

After a few months of searching, she found Charlie, a white, 2-month-old terrier mix, at Kritter Kamp Rescue in Elk Grove. She brought him home in mid-January and then the fun began! As I mentioned, I’m not a dog person, but not surprisingly, this little puppy that was so eager to please and full of loving energy took hold of my heart despite my best efforts. And, if Charlie could get me to fall for him so quickly, imagine how swiftly and deeply my wife and kids fell in love with him.

On Feb. 7, after school, they took Charlie for a walk around the block. (My wife was determined to train him to walk nicely on a leash.) They went around the corner and, coming down the street, was a man on a bike with his large yellow dog running beside him, off leash. Before anyone could react, that dog grabbed Charlie in his mouth and shook him to death, right in front of my wife and kids.

My older son, screamed to please “make him let go of my dog” over and over, before it became too much for him to bear and he ran all the way back home, with the 5-year-old not far behind. My wife found a hose and sprayed the dog with it to get it to finally let go of Charlie. A concerned neighbor came out and helped scoop up Charlie and take him to the vet, but it was too late. Charlie was gone.

Our house is now filled with anger and confusion, but mostly sadness. My wife and kids have violent images of Charlie’s passing seared into their minds that will take a lot of time to come to terms with, and never really go away.

What did the owner of the other dog say? “I can’t believe that happened; my dog is so sweet and gentle and has never tried to harm anything.”

Please follow our leash laws.

— Jason Needham is a Davis resident.

Special to The Enterprise

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Discussion | 10 comments

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  • Jessica Weber ( Kritter Kamp Rescue)March 10, 2013 - 8:38 pm

    We were so deeply saddened when we heard what had happen to Charlie (Flurry is what we called him). This is a prime example why laws are suppose to be followed. Such a wonderful fun loving little dog had to pay with his life for someone else's irresponsibility. My heart goes out to your family for having to deal with such a tramatic experience. Jessica Kritter Kamp Rescue

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  • Dotti EgelMarch 11, 2013 - 1:35 am

    My heartfelt condolences to the Needham family. What a terrible tragedy! My small dog has also been attacked by a larger, off-leash dog, though fortunately with no injuries. All dog owners should recognize that their loving pets may behave unpredictably and keep them restrained appropriately in public. I know nothing can replace your beloved Charlie, but I hope your family will be able to share the joys of dog ownership once again.

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  • Debbie RMarch 21, 2013 - 3:26 pm

    My heart goes out to you & your family, especially your children for having to witness Charlie's senseless death. Hopefully they will heal from this experience and learn that not all dog owners are as careless as this one was, and as the other commentor said, hopefully they will be able to experience the joys of owning a dog again in the future. RIP Charlie

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  • LaureenMarch 21, 2013 - 3:52 pm

    I think these attacks are common but we usually don't hear about them. I am grieving the loss of my sweet Canine Good Citizen rescued chihuahua attacked and killed the same way last December. Even though there was a vicious dog hearing in my town, there was nothing made public about the attack. The shepherd was leashed, but broke free from the owner. The attack dog was allowed back with her owners, but has to have in-house training and a stronger leash. My sincere condolences to Charlie's family and friends.

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  • BriannaMarch 21, 2013 - 4:20 pm

    It isn't only the owners of little dogs that have these problems. I'm the owner of an 85 Pound German Shepherd. Large, but sweet as pie. She was so aloof and chill with other dogs, that when we kenneled her, she'd be kenneled with a 15 pound Maltese. We never had any problems with her in public or at home. But we also never let her meet another dog without asking. Not only were we aware that some dogs need more space then others, but we also learned quickly that many owners were terrified of her Breed. And then we were attacked. Not once. Not Twice. But on Three separate occasions out in public by off-leash dogs. Twice by large dogs, and a third by a papillion. NONE of the owners took responsibility, and now, my dog is terrified of other dogs. Obviously, these events could have ended SO much worse. But it's still horrible that MY dog ended up with mental scars because SOMEONE ELSE decided they were too lazy to keep their dog on a leash. Just follow the leash law. It's NOT difficult.

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  • ColoRADogsMarch 21, 2013 - 4:45 pm

    My deepest sympathies go out to the family and I hope someday the memory of what was witnessed will diminish. Not only should large dogs be leashed but I have been on the opposite end with my large dogs who are never off leash when a small off leash dog ran up to them. ALWAYs keep your dog on a leash regardless of size. No one should be exempt from this law. Again, I am so very sorry for your loss.

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  • Paula KigerMarch 21, 2013 - 5:37 pm

    That is heartbreaking. RIP Charlie and I hope your family finds solace from the caring of strangers.

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  • aileenMarch 21, 2013 - 6:27 pm

    I have to express my sincere gratitude that the owner sharing this experience accurately placed the actions on the owner. Many times in anger and confusion blame is placed on breed. As the owner of two pit bull type dogs, one of which is terrified of the outside world due to abuse before we rescued him, I cannot express the importance of leashes. It is not always enough to have the perfect dog, because others (like myself) work diligently with trainers and structure to rehabilitate our beloved pets. Being the guardian of dogs with such a skewed public image holds us to a higher standard. My sincerest condolences to the family who lost their pet and I thank you for reminding us of the importance of following already established laws regarding our dogs.

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  • Dog MomMarch 22, 2013 - 7:11 am

    A timely reminder as a few months ago a larger dog on a flexi leash at our big box pet store, grabbed a woman's small leashed Service Dog and shook it to death, then ran around the store continuing to shake the little dog's body, dragging the flexi housing behind it. The employees and in-house trainer were of course, useless. I am also the owner of a well behaved German Shepherd who constantly has run ins with all sizes of dogs who are off leash. Usually the offending owner is screaming in fear for her small dog's life as the little terror runs directly up to my on-leash dog who does her very best to ignore them, or at least keep from being bitten. Then THEY act as if something is wrong with my polite leashed dog being in a leash-required public park because THEY can't control poopsie. We're also been in real sketchy situations when some moron decides to release their hound because it "wants to play with your dog". If we were at the dog park my girl would be all for that. But we're in an unfenced public park, bordered on 4 sides by busy streets with high speed limits. What in gawds name are you thinking clueless owner. Plus, you have no idea what my dog's temperament is. Responsible dog ownership REQUIRES that you leash your dog in all places except those specifically spelling out that they are off leash environments.

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  • D. DavisMarch 22, 2013 - 4:10 pm

    How horrific. I'm so sorry for your loss. When I take my little dogs out, I wear pepper spray on a velcro bracelet (~$15) in case of attacks.

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