How would you handle this situation?

Alexandra said: Feb 26, 2014
Alexandra Jacques
Suzuki Association Member
Mesa, AZ
35 posts

This is a bit of a long post. Sorry, I will try to keep it as short as possible.

I teach lessons at my house, and my neighbor has a dog who is not very well trained, from what I’ve seen. A few weeks ago, we had an incident where the dog got out of the back gate to the house, and ran up to two of my students and their mom, who were on their way in for their lesson. He barks a lot, and growls, and is a big dog, and I completely understand that they were terrified when this happened. They reported it to Animal Control, and so did I, specifying that the dog didn’t hurt anyone; we just wanted to make sure that something would be done so they keep their dog from getting out and doing anything worse.

Well, today it happened. One of the neighbors was walking out of his house, and left the door and front gate open just long enough for the dog to get out as a student and her family were leaving. He got out and bit her younger brother. We had a discussion with the family, my neighbors and I, and their mom doesn’t want anything to happen to their dog, but thinks that his father will probably want to report the incident. I’m a dog lover, I have two of my own dogs, and I would hate for anything to happen to their dog, but I still wouldn’t blame the parents if they want to report it, and I told that to the mother. She took down the neighbor’s information, and they said they’ll decide this evening what they’re going to do.

Is there anything else that I, as the teacher having students coming to my house, should do? I told my neighbors that I have children coming to my house for lessons pretty regularly, and that this wasn’t the first incident, and to do whatever they can to keep it from happening again, because they last thing I would want is for them to lose their dog. At the same time, though, a dog owner who knows (and they seem to know) that their dog is not always friendly around strangers should be doing everything they can to make sure he can’t get out of the house, and I don’t want my students or any others getting hurt because they’re not taking responsibility.

I’m thinking that I will keep in touch with my student’s family, and if they report the incident, I will report it as well. I don’t want it to seem like I’m not taking the appropriate action to make sure my students are safe when they come for lessons. Any thoughts on what you would do would be appreciated!

Amanda Hockenberger said: Feb 28, 2014
Amanda Hockenberger
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Marlton, NJ
10 posts

Hi Alexandra, It is so unfortunate that you have this situation. I’m sure it is very stressful!

If I were you, I would definitely report the dog to animal control right away. This sounds like an unprovoked attack. Just imagine how awful you would feel if another student, neighbor, or friend were bitten. If this dog is large and aggressive, it could potentially kill someone. You may even be sued if the dog bites again and it is discovered that you knew of an incident and did not report it. Also, keep in mind that your students may be traumatized and scared to come for lessons! If the dog is given another chance by authorities, I would consider renting studio space for lessons. It may be expensive and less convenient, but you would have peace of mind.

I love animals and have had dogs all of my life. I know it is difficult to make the call, considering what the consequences may be for the neighbor’s dog. Unfortunately, you should put your personal safety and the safety of your students, friends, and neighbors first!

Alexandra said: Feb 28, 2014
Alexandra Jacques
Suzuki Association Member
Mesa, AZ
35 posts

Update: They had the bite looked at by a doctor, and reported it to Animal Control. (I believe if you see a doctor for a dog bite you are required to report it.) Standard procedure is for the dog to be quarantined for 10 days. Unfortunate situation for the owners (and the poor dog), but I’m praying it will be a lesson to them.

Amanda, I agree with you. If one of the owners had not stepped in immediately, this could have been much worse than just a bite. I’m considering contacting the HOA as well, because if they continue to be careless about keeping the dog in the house away from strangers, it’s a risk to everyone in the neighborhood- something the neighbors should know about. If it didn’t happen to one of my students, it would happen to someone else.

Patricia said: Apr 17, 2015
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Martinsville, NJ
58 posts

Report everytime you see the dog loose. I was attacked by a dog on an electric shock fence…… I have not been able to walk without a cane since and i developed CRPS in the knee. I can not stand to lead concerts.. You will help anyone in the future who gets hurt by that dog….and if this was an unprovoked bite….there will be future ones. Since rescuing my dog, i have taken dog training from the best trainers out there….Dr. Dunbar, Dr. McConnell, Drs. Hetts, Dr. Dodman.
Good Luck.

Heather Figi said: Apr 18, 2015
Heather FigiViolin
Eugene, OR
97 posts

Wow—This is frightening. I am glad everyone is OK but you have a huge liability issue on your hands and now the responsibility of keeping your students safe.

1- YES—This needs every amount of action available to you in your community in terms of reporting.

2- Frank & neutral discussions with your neighbors. THIS HAS HAPPENED MORE THAN ONCE. Please forgive my capitol letters but this is a series matter. In my opinion, your neighbors have not been responsible enough in securing their dog—this is not acceptable. You have to be proactive every way possible.

3- Communicate with your studio (letter?)—let them know this is not acceptable to you and outline the measure you are taking.

For the record, I am also an animal love and owner of a 150 lb. Great Dane. Having a dog means being responsible and somewhere this failed to happen to the necessary degree.

I love animals

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