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I'm pretty sure my dog (a 4 .5 year old Doberman) is currently the victim of breed prejudice. He has lived with us since December 2007 when he was 4 months old and we have NEVER had a problem with Animal Control/my town. Unfortunately, on Friday, 2/10, my sister accidentally left the door open as she was leaving the house. Atticus got out. Being a doberman, he is naturally protective, and saw a woman walking in front of our property. There was an incident where he first went after her and jumped on her, then retreated, then doubled back and jumped again, biting her side and arm. My sister by that point had run over and got him under control. As soon as she grabbed his collar, he stopped attempting to go after the woman, clearly indicating that it was a protective measure, not a vicious action where he just wanted to hurt somebody.

When Animal Control came the Monday after the incident, the man told us that everything was going to be fine and it wasn't like this dog had a record with the town and not to worry. He just issued us a 10 day quarantine order for him and left.

Now, the other day, the police gave us all these papers about a public hearing about Atticus and whether he should be deemed a "vicious" dog in the eyes of the town and then, if he is, decide whether permanent restraint, banishment, or "destroying" him is the appropriate idea. Suspiciously, the same man that we spoke to on Monday is now included in the packet of papers that we were given saying that he "recommends Atticus be named vicious." There are affadavits from the bitten woman, her brother, and a woman who picked her up on the street when she found her crying and walking away.

Atticus is not vicious, we have never had a problem with him before... We are getting this online petition together, we are having our dog trainer write a letter, and various people in the neighborhood to write their own testimonials of Atticus' behavior. I am getting people who have been to/stayed at my house to write letters... I'm just so worried because even if he gets "permanent restraint," according to my town laws, he can't even be in our fully fenced in back yard. If he were to be in my yard, it would have to be in a closed-in kennel like structure WITH a horizontal top. This is no way for him to live.

I am also worried about one of our neighbors (in back of us) spreading a bad word about him during this because there was one time where Atticus put his paws up on the fence separating our yard and their yard and started barking at their kids, who were getting very close to our fence (the area on which they were standing is actually still our property), but the kids freaked out, and then the dad FREAKED out and tried to come after Atticus with a shovel. NOTE: atticus did NOT in any way make contact with the children; he was just barking from his side of the fence. Soooo we don't necessarily have the neighbors on our side if they were spreading that story.

But I do not think this would be happening if Atticus wasn't a Doberman. I know he has protective instincts, but I'm not sure what to do in this situation. The town laws state he *can* be named vicious even after just one incident, which is harsher than most of the other laws.

I am trying to research relevant case law, but his hearing is next Thursday night, and I'm pretty sure this woman has hired a lawyer to do as much damage as possible.

This is our petition: Petition: The Town of Reading, Massachusetts: Save our dog's life | Change.org
 

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Very unfortunate, and you're right, the same thing would not happen if this was a "yorkie-poo" or something.

Does he have his CGC? That kind of documentation might help
 

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I signed your petition for you. I'm so very sorry you've had to go through this with your boy. I sincerely believe that misconceptions and prejudice of our sweet breed are almost as dangerous as the diseases that can plague them, and its a damn shame. I hope with all the wonderful doberkids that DT has, that we're slowly changing the misconceptions, even if just in our immediate neighborhood. I really hope this turns out in your favor, and keep us updated. If there is anything I can do, please let me know!
 
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I signed your petition for you. I'm so very sorry you've had to go through this with your boy. I sincerely believe that misconceptions and prejudice of our sweet breed are almost as dangerous as the diseases that can plague them, and its a damn shame. I hope with all the wonderful doberkids that DT has, that we're slowly changing the misconceptions, even if just in our immediate neighborhood. I really hope this turns out in your favor, and keep us updated. If there is anything I can do, please let me know!
Thank you so, so much. His hearing is next Thursday. I'm going to get as much as I can ready. I'm not saying what happened was right, but it was not serious and has never happened before, and any possible punishment they are talking about will FAR outweigh the incident.

Luckily, through my research, it's looking less and less like "destroying" him will be what they pick because it was not severe at all. I'm just worried that this crazy woman is going to lawyer up, so my plan is to get this as much attention as possible on Atticus' side and make it a PR nightmare for the town to affect his life permanently.
 

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Alpha SheepDog
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Okay, you might not like my points and I feel really bad for you and Atticus.
My dogs/cats are my children, I do not have any. I would take a bullet for any one of them, so people think i might be nuts.
Personally, with the risk of being put down, I would take my dog and get out of Dodge!!!!
I am not sure how the hearing works and or if they investigate it, via your neighbours too. i would be worried about the back neighbor saying something also. Then that would justify their agrresive dog mentality and painting all dogs of a certain breed a certain way.
Now in a sense it was an unprovoked attack and the dog shouldnt have done that.
You really should have seen this behaviour coming, if the dog was proned to look out windows and be vicously agreassive wanting to get at anyone near your property, then that should have been curbed immediately. I you
 

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Not wishing to probe into your finances but can you get a lawyer to act on your behalf.
I have often found that if only one side is armed shall we say the poor beggar that comes to the fight without a lawyer has the crap kicked out of him. A good lawyer or if you are on the receiving end of his tactics a bad one can run rings round the ordinary Joe and will get you to admit to being on the grassy knoll if you are not careful (The assassination of JFK in case anyone is wondering what the heck I am talking about there) so please if you can consider retaining a lawyer or at least consult one if you can.

Now undoubtedly the woman bitten will hope to villify your dog and his character by dragging anyone that can be found who might have a gripe with your dog and his past history. (I understand you say he doesnt have one, but you yourself have stated your neighbour isnt happy about him etc). If he is cited within the case here you can try to play crafty (as we English call it). You can either ask the court to discount the mans testimony because it is not relevant to this case, or if they say it is pertinent request clarification as to why if the incident is so dire did he not make a complaint at the time of the incident. You could then request that only testimony relating to the incident with the woman be allowed.
Hopefully you can show the court that your dog is not vicious and that this incident was an abhoration via testimony from Professional people, ie vet, trainer, local police officer etc (that would be one heck of a coup if you could get that) that would not be repeated again.

By the way my legal advice really is only pertinent to the UK but I believe it may be of some use to you in the US as you have rule of law in your country and not dissimilar laws etc to ours.

However, saying that, he did bite a woman in an unprovoked attack however, it was perceived by the dog so you may well have to prepare yourself for a few harsh realities heading your way.

Good luck.
 

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Luv-The-Nub
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While I am very sorry for you, I have to agree with the previous members as Atticus was totally out of control :( I had a dobie that would charge people walking by our house but would never touch them, much less jump on them and/or bite them. When she did this for the second time, we sought help immediately to fix her behavior because it was ultimately mine and my husband's fault for not only allowing her offleash, but for not having better control of our dog and not realizing we had a real problem.
My suggestion is to get your dog and yourself to see a behaviorist immediately and be sure to have everything documented. Hopefully he has been through some type of obedience training and maybe has his Good Citizens Title ? Good luck, I'm sorry again.
 

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Alpha SheepDog
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Sorry I timed out.
If you allowed that behaviour, because you, as you say, it is being protective of the property, then that was clearly wrong and this is the end result.
I can understand your dog having an attitude after being chased with a shovel, and their should have been signs after that. I understand this, really well, my first dobe, Kaiser, was cut above the eye, by a male teen poking a stick through the fence. For the next few days, a dog that normally sat at the glass window, is now ready to eat anyone that walked by, and I had to address that toute suite.
None, of my previous two dobes before Nubis, would unprovoked bolt out the door and attack someone, there was no need for it. If someone came in my house, and caused harm,, I know without a doubt they would attack.
What I am saying this unprovoked attack shouldnt have happened, and somewhere along the way, you should have saw something.
Now, you have too long at the person, who got attacked, they are traumatized and possibly scared for life. I know, I am.
I have loved dogs all my life, I once petted a tail wagging german shepherd and as i am face to face with him, he pulled his lips back and started growling rather vicious. I knew, to keep calm and slowly back away and not to provoke it further. I didnt do anything except talk nice to him and pet him, which he initially loved. To this day, I still have a weary eye for Shepherds. I actually wanted one before that, because I seen them in action at a RCMP Training facility and just fell in love with their intelligence.
Unfortunately, due to Hollywood, irresponsible owners and the media going on witch hunts, this is what we have to deal with. As responsible owners, we have to ensure, that our dogs are the gentlest around people, or trouble happens. We have to learn to read people, they are still dogs in general, and when they sense fear in humans, we have to be aware of it, and take the right measures, so that the wrong signals are not sent to the dog.
If you want a protective dog, you have to have the right knowledge, to learn how to train the dog, to turn it on and turn it off.
I hope the best comes out of it, for you guys, cause I would panicking at this stage.
 

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u mad?
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It's a real shame that this has happened. I know you think that your dog isn't at fault but the fact is that he is...
Your dog was uncontrolled and attacked a non-threatening woman crossing the street. He didn't just jump on her. He didn't just bark at her. He BIT her. In your own petition you refer to it as a puncture, not a scratch. That is at least a level 3 bite.
However, saying that, he did bite a woman in an unprovoked attack however, it was perceived by the dog so you may well have to prepare yourself for a few harsh realities heading your way.
While I am very sorry for you, I have to agree with the previous members as Atticus was totally out of control :( I had a dobie that would charge people walking by our house but would never touch them, much less jump on them and/or bite them. When she did this for the second time, we sought help immediately to fix her behavior because it was ultimately mine and my husband's fault for not only allowing her offleash, but for not having better control of our dog and not realizing we had a real problem.
My suggestion is to get your dog and yourself to see a behaviorist immediately and be sure to have everything documented. Hopefully he has been through some type of obedience training and maybe has his Good Citizens Title ? Good luck, I'm sorry again.
While your issue may not be happening if you had something like a Yorkie I don't think that they are happening just because Atticus is a doberman or even an "aggressive" breed. I think that what your going through because of the incident would happen if Atticus was ANY larger breed of dog.

That being said, other than a petition what are you doing for your dog? Does he have his CGC? Are you going to get it for him? What formal training has he gone through? Are you contacting any trainers, vets, or behaviorists?
 

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I'm torn with this because I feel horrible that your going through this but he was loose and did bite a person. This hits close to home with me because a loose dog tried to attack my Doberman and honestly I was furious and that dog wasn't even an "aggressive" breed. This is a tough situation and I do hope it has a good outcome but you do need to understand that this is a big deal. He bit someone who was not provoking him and that right there would worry me. I think you need to go see a specialist and try to prove that he's not a vicious dog.
Im sorry if I'm being harsh but this is serious. Dogs don't just go biting people for no reason and i would hate to see you lose your dog.

I am very sorry you are going through this and I hope this has a good outcome and if it does please please be more careful with him. You don't want this to happen again and then actually lose your dog. Good luck.
 

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I have a real problem with this. I hope that the ramifications are not serious for either the dog or the owner. I have had 7 Dobermans and not one of them would have done what Atticus did. This was a non threatening stranger who wasn't even on the owner's property. I can understand why the authorities are questioning the dangerousness of the dog and the responsibleness of the owner. He got out after all and he BIT someone. That is very serious stuff. Any good sized dog of any breed would be in trouble, not just a Doberman.

This kind of thing is a black eye to the Doberman breed. Just because we love Dobermans doesn't make this behavior acceptable.
 

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Alpha SheepDog
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After reading the petition, my advise would be to reword it, because any lawyer will rip it apart.
You cannot say its a Protection dog, I see no where, where this dog was given this type of training. If it was a true trained Protection Dog, once the call off command was given, it should have ceased all activities.
You really cant call it non-vicious, as vicious means: Marked by an aggressive disposition. and this wasnt a non aggressive action performed by the dog.
The dog, did not jump because it was restrained by its collar, so it was not under controlled.
Sadly, this happened due to a door being accidently opened.
 
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It's hard to say without seeing, but this doesn't seem like being protective to me... Was this woman a threat, or acting in a threatining manor, or would your dog just bite anyone who walks by if he was allowed to? A "protection dog" that was propperly trained wouldn't have run up and bit someone for no reason...

Maybe this is not indicitave of his behavior, and maybe he truly is the sweetest dog in the world, can't say... Such an unfortunate incident, all over a mistake.
 

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Atticus' behavior was not protective, it was indeed aggressive and unprovoked.

I'm sorry that you have to go through this, but based on your post, I think Atticus' actions should be deemed "viscious". No matter how much I love Dobermans and other dogs, if I were to be jumped on and bitten by one of them, I would want action taken as well.

I guess you have to take this as a serious lesson and hopefully if you have to leave him with your sister again, she will understand that she needs to be more careful.

ETA: I would consult a certified behaviorist and get their opinion in writing. My post seems a bit harsh so i just want to clarify that I don't want to see Atticus euthanized for this incident. I do think that you should have to pay the fine associated with vicious dogs and I think you need to be more careful.
 

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Thank you so, so much. His hearing is next Thursday. I'm going to get as much as I can ready. I'm not saying what happened was right, but it was not serious and has never happened before, and any possible punishment they are talking about will FAR outweigh the incident.
I think you better change your mindset and realize this WAS serious, especially to the poor woman minding her business just walking by your house that got bitten for no reason.

I realize you're fearful of what could happen to Attitus now, rightfully so, but you better realize you have got some serious grovelling to do and you better make it clear that you are going to implement a lot of changes and have a clear plan in place so that nothing like this will ever happen again. There is really no point in harping on the fact that it never happened before. It happened NOW. The plan for going forward is what's important now.

I can't help but say this is exactly why we have a breed prejudice to face. You are now partially responsible for that breed prejudice.
 
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