This evening Sunday, June 23rd at 8:30pm at Transmitter Park, there will be a Candlelight Vigil for Arlo, the young dog who was attacked and killed in Greenpoint recently.
After video footage revealed the identity of the attack dog owner who lives on Freeman St with his white shepherd dog, I spoke with Arlo’s owner Lauren Schneider to find out what she hopes can come out of this tragic situation and how it has been for her to seek justice within the community.
I also spoke with Eric of Dog-E-Dog walking service to help educate Greenpoint dog owners how to avoid a similar situations while on walks and to keep our dogs safe from potentially aggressive dogs.
GP: What do you hope happens to the owner and the dog from your efforts?
Lauren: My hope is that the owner and the dog attend obedience training, and that the owner muzzles the dog when out on walks so this does not happen again. I’m not holding my breath for an apology from these people.
GP: What specific issues have you had in trying to get justice from this incidence?
Lauren: Figuring out who to contact to file a dangerous dog report has been a process. I had the police tell me to contact the ASPCA, the ASPCA tell me to contact the police, the internet told me to contact Animal Care and Control … who told me to contact the ASPCA. Finally found out I had to contact the Department of Health in order to file a dangerous dog report … Unfortunately, unless it’s a human being bitten, it is nearly impossible to get a dangerous dog hearing.
GP: How has the support been from the community?
Lauren: I don’t even have words. I have been so overwhelmed and moved by the support from complete strangers. I have received numerous emails with condolences. A neighborhood woman was even kind enough to make a little memorial for him near where the attack happened. Another gentleman, who first tipped me off to where the owner and dog live, has offered to print up hundreds of flyers for me for free to help alert the public. People have been wonderful. Arlo was so full of joy. I always said he was a magical being, and even in his death he has inspired so much love. I try to live a life full of compassion and heart, and to see the amount of compassion from complete strangers only pushes me to do so even more. I think this tragedy not only highlights the importance of dog ownership responsibility, but also the importance and beauty of community.
GP: Have you had any direct contact with the dog attack owner?
Lauren: No, absolutely not. I fear running into them, they live one block away from me, right around the corner. They walk their dog on my street all the time. Honestly, it’s hard being here right now. It was just me and Arlo in my apartment so it’s a big adjustment. It’s quiet here now, and lonely without him. I don’t know what I would do if I saw them.
Chat with Eric of Dog-E-Dog:
GP: As a dog walker, do you notice much aggression from other dogs on your walks?
Eric: Yes, there are aggressive dogs everywhere and you can usually tell from a distance. The body language of both the owner and the dog will tell you.
GP: Are there specific signs to look for in other dogs that could help predict a fight or attack?
Eric: Yes. Body language of both the owner and the dog are important to watch. The owner will often tense up, and the dog feeds off of that. Early on, when the dog sees you down the street, its ears will perk up and lean forward, the energy of the dog starts to build, getting ‘worked up’, maybe swerving and bursts of lunging to get closer to your dog. As you get closer to the aggressive dog, his face will tell the tale. Are eyes looking stern? Are teeth showing? Or lips pursed perhaps? Does the intent of the approach seem aggressive? These are all signs that the dog wants to eat your dog.
GP: How do you protect your “pack” from attacks from other dogs?
Eric: Since you can usually tell from a distance, once you identify it and it doesn’t appear the aggressors are crossing the street (which they usually do) then our pack will either cross the street OR we get all the dogs to one side, the further side from the aggressive dog, and walk swiftly on by.
GP: Have any of your dogs been attacked or attacked other dogs?
Eric: In 2011 at McCarren Dog Run one of my dogs was attacked immediately upon entering the park. Maybe 5 seconds and it was happening. I broke up the fight (as the owner of the aggressor was nowhere to be found) and left promptly. From the other side of the gate, I called out “who’s the owner of the husky” and no one came forward or pointed any fingers. My dog sustained no serious injuries, but it was an unwanted trip to the vet. After seeing how irresponsible some dog owners can be, we don’t go off-leash on Dog-E-Dog’s watch much anymore.
GP: How do you handle a dog attack? From both sides, the attacked? The attacker?
Eric: In general you want to handle the attack from a distance (shit gets real real when you and your dog get attacked). Often a distracting noise will break it up, like shaking a can of pennies or banging a metal garbage can. So if you have an aggressive dog, make sure you are ready to distract him from attack-mode. Unfortunately, the victim’s owner is often the one who has to take action either because the other owner isn’t present or isn’t able to control the dog. So, if your dog is getting attacked, do what you can to distract the aggressive dog, but don’t rely on screaming. You want to make weird screeching or jangling noises that will hopefully break the mood of the aggressor.
GP: What should the attack dog owner in Arlos’ case have done? He left the scene of the attack. Should he have stayed?
Eric: Definitely should have stayed and offered to help. At the very least given his information.
GP: What should “happen” to the attack dog? Removed from owner? Muzzled? Training? Euthanasia?
Eric: Don’t shoot the dog! Muzzle and training.
GP: Speak to the behavior of the attack dog’s owner for leaving? Not coming forward. Should he be punished?
Eric: It’s cowardly. I’m not a big fan of punishment. I hope shame, guilt, regret are sinking in and at the very least causing him to change his and his dog’s behavior. But it would be awesome if he could do that and take responsibility for his and his dog’s actions.
GP: Can you comment on you knowledge of the law? Dogs are property and this cannot be pursued in a criminal way. Should the laws be changed?
Eric: In terms of the owner being criminal, I don’t know, that’s a whole legal discussion I’m not qualified to have. I do know if the victim dies the owner is entitled to the cost of the “property” and regardless of life or death you can sue for the cost of vet bills. In the case of death, if the owner wants to pursue other damages such as loss of wages or emotional distress, she can try but she has to prove the aggressor’s owner had knowledge of the dogs violent capacity. In New York this almost never happens.
GP: Final thoughts?
Eric: Yes, people need to be more mindful of “placement.” Is the dog the right fit for the owners and vice versa? Many rescues are desparately trying to save dogs lives by getting them into people’s homes, so they approve owners who aren’t qualified to take such dogs. Breeders don’t care who the dog goes to as long as the money is there. Because dogs are so readily available to whoever wants them, the challenge lies in finding a good match. So, if you’re considering getting a dog, please do your research! What are your restrictions? How about the dog’s restrictions? What do you want out of a dog? What health & financial risks are involved? Should you just get a chia pet?