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Whistling Dixie
Oct. 24, 2009, 12:34 PM
Hello, I frequently visit the COTH forums but never post...but I need advice.

Yesterday, my horse was bitten by a dog owned by the farm where I board. :eek: My horse & I were standing in the barn aisle talking with my farrier, waiting for the Equilox to dry...when all of a sudden we hear a sound and my horse is flying backward and shaking his head in pain with blood all over his muzzle, where the dog grabbed him right between the nostrils.

There are 3 dogs at this farm, the other 2 are very friendly. This large mixed-breed dog, however, was apparently abused as a puppy and now has arthritis so he's in pain a lot of the time. I was told when I brought my horse there that he could be somewhat "weird" at times so I have always kept my distance. To my knowledge, this is the first incident of this kind. I feel badly for the dog, but this was a completely unprovoked attack to my horse! :(

After complete hysterics on my part, an emergency visit from the vet, and 2 trips to the equine pharmacy, my horse is on anti-inflammatories and antibiotics for 7 days. We were unable to stitch the wounds because the gashes & punctures were deep enough that infection is a concern, especially from an animal bite. The owner told me that the dog will be confined until they "figure out what to do".

I am beyond upset about this, and I really don't know what to do. Should this be reported? To who? Do I just chalk this up to a freak accident and just let it go? I really like where I board, but I can not compromise on my horse's safety, and I am worried that this will become an ongoing issue between me & owner at the barn if the dog is released...your advice is appreciated. Thank you!

EqTrainer
Oct. 24, 2009, 12:41 PM
"Figure out what to do"?

I would send them a certified letter stating that they are to pay the vet bills and if the dog is not safely contained at all times and/or removed from the premises that you will be leaving without notice given.

Just the fact that they said "figure out what to do" would send me to packing my things, but that's me. People always have an excuse for biting dogs.. they've been abused, they're in pain, they see dead people, whatever... :rolleyes:

WorthTheWait95
Oct. 24, 2009, 12:47 PM
^ Just be prepared for them to ask you to leave and have a backup farm in mind with a stall you can move into immediately.

You never know the BO may be totally reasonable when you talk to her about this, she may have just been in shock/a little panicked if she said they would 'figure it out' right after it happened. Be prepared for that to not be the case though.

They should definitely pay the vet bills.

NEWT
Oct. 24, 2009, 12:56 PM
Oh, so very sorry to hear about your poor horse. I hope he recovers with no ill effects. I suspect the barn owners will put the dog down since he's officially "unsafe". Not to mention he's in pain from arthritis which makes him grouchy and no reputable business needs a "doggy on the edge". Just bad public relations and I'm sure they know that.

If it were my barn and my dog bit a horse I would expect you to give me an itemized bill and then deduct it from the next month's board bill. You like the barn so it behooves you to find a friendly way to keep the serenity. If the dog is consistently restrained or gone, and the unexpected bills are taken care of by them you will be able to enjoy your new barn. Just rein in your emotions for a bit and look at the situation clearly.

Whistling Dixie
Oct. 24, 2009, 12:58 PM
Thank you for your replies, I should have included in my original post that the owner has said that they will take care of the vet bill. And I completely sympathize with the shock of the situation. But I am concerned that some time will pass, the dog will be released, and what if my horse just puts his head over or under the fence to grab grass & gets bitten again? I feel badly for this dog, but I don't know what the answer is. But my horse's safety is not negotiable with me and I've made this very clear on several occasions to the owner...and now this happens! :cry:

Cita
Oct. 24, 2009, 01:56 PM
The dog needs to be confined and potentially put on some sort of pain reliever.

If it were me, I would just talk with the BO. The BO is probably very upset and a little scared - just be understanding and not accusatory, and just let them know that if they don't promise to keep the dog 100% confined/on-leash for the rest of its life, you will have to move to another facility.

It shouldn't be that hard to move the "edgy" dog to become an indoor dog, or to build it a kennel of some sort and take it out on a leash. If that is beyond the BO's willingness/ability, it would probably be kindest to put the dog down. (Much as I hate to say it!)

I have a young dog who suffers from arthritis, and he gets grouchy/bitey too (people who don't know better want to pet him behind his head, which is where his arthritis hurts him). So I do understand. BUT, that is why I think it's my responsibility to never, ever put him in a situation where he would bite someone. Certainly not let him loose to run around.

buschkn
Oct. 24, 2009, 02:16 PM
I understand that you are upset, and rightly so. But the BO has already offered to cover the vet costs, and to confine the dog. I think you are "pre-worrying" how they will handle it. Just go and talk to them, as someone else said, with understanding not accusations, and explain that you are obviously upset and unnerved. Tone is everything. You can say "I WANT TO KNOW WHAT YOU ARE GOING TO DO ABOUT THIS!!" in a finger-poking way or you can say "I want to know what you are going to do about this" calmly. If that makes sense?

Just say what you've said here- I like boarding here, but if I can't be 100% confident that something like this will never happen again, then I will have to find somewhere else to board, and be prepared to do so.

Good luck and jingles for your boy's sore nose. :)

Whistling Dixie
Oct. 24, 2009, 02:47 PM
Cita, thank you for your insight!

buschkn, very well said, you are absolutely right. Thank you!

sdlbredfan
Oct. 24, 2009, 03:26 PM
On the 'Should this be reported' - YES, to local animal control authorities, unless you see that BO has already taken appropriate steps either to confine the dog or euth it. Just think for a moment, if this dog is so unpredictable and unfazed by the size of a horse, what would happen if it went after a child? Unless dog owners can prove dog has up to date rabies vaccination, it can, and IMO should be, impounded as a dangerous animal.

I agree with this advice too. ("I would send them a certified letter stating that they are to pay the vet bills and if the dog is not safely contained at all times and/or removed from the premises that you will be leaving without notice given.") and the ("Just say what you've said here- I like boarding here, but if I can't be 100% confident that something like this will never happen again, then I will have to find somewhere else to board, and be prepared to do so.").

Whistling Dixie
Oct. 24, 2009, 05:10 PM
Sdlbredfan, thank you for answering what I think is one of my biggest questions about this whole unfortunate incident. Thankfully I have not been involved in any kind of animal aggression situation before, and I really do not know what the proper "protocol" is and if someone has an obligation to report an incident like this to an official authority. I assume the dog is vaccinated for rabies but do not know for certain, I will ask the BO for proof of vaccination (my horse is current on his shots, including rabies). And yes there are small children at this barn...I will take a deep breath and see what solution the BO presents over the rest of the weekend.

Thank you to everyone for taking the time to reply.

sidepasser
Oct. 24, 2009, 05:14 PM
I would ask the BO what they intend to do with the dog in the future. If they cannot give a honest answer such as "containment and only out on a leash" or re-homing/put down, I would give notice and make every effort to move.

I am sure the BO is mortified and never imagined the dog would bite a horse, but on the other hand, it is the BO's duty to keep the premises safe at all times and now that the dog has had a "free bite" as they say, it will always be deemed to be "unpredictable" if not dangerous.

If I were the BO, I would either rehome the dog or put it down by my local vet. A biting dog can never be trusted and it does appear that this dog is not intimidated by the size of the horse.

Horsegal984
Oct. 24, 2009, 05:46 PM
Devils advocate here- Since it sounds as though you didn't see the actual bite occur, it's also reasonable to assume your horse may have unknowningly done something to provoke the bite(i.e. bump the dog on a sore hip, or even bite the dog). Not saying that the dog reacted appropiately by bitting the horse, but it's a little harsh to put all the blame on the dog without knowing EXCTLY what the initial contact was. It's the same as a dog owner not recogonizing that their dog's body language provoked another dog to bite, so your reaction is to blame the dog that bit.

However, if the dog bit because of being that painful to the touch the dog's pain management protocol needs to be readdressed. A child or boarder could have had the same force trying to pet the dog, and with the same consequences. If the pain cannot be adequately managed then the kindest thing for that dog is to put him to sleep. If he acted without provocation then the only reasonable option is to confine him away from other animals and people, or put him to sleep.

If this is truely the very first incident of the dog acting aggressively to the horse I am very suspicious that there was a reason, we just don't know what it was. If i was the owner, and my dog has never shown aggressive behavior before I think my immediate response would have been to lock him up 'until i can figure out what to do' as well. It's not an easy decision to put down an animal, regardless of the reason, and expecting an owner to shoot him on the spot is a little harsh. So far their reactions and behaviors have been totally approiate, and i think that now time will tell. Make sure that any discussion you ahve with them is a discussion and cannot be interpreted as accusations or confrontation.

Katherine
Vet Tech

JanM
Oct. 24, 2009, 07:17 PM
I would first start barn shopping, because even if the BO realizes that the entire situation is the dog and owner's fault eventually you will be blamed somehow and will be you that is the bad guy. Whatever triggered the attack, the dog is unsafe to be around horses or people and something really needs to be done by the owner. I hope I'm wrong about the eventual outcome, but everything seems to be so complicated these days. Hope your horse heals quickly and you get over the shock also.

Huntertwo
Oct. 24, 2009, 07:30 PM
If they knew the dog was "weird" at times, why in the world was this dog allowed to be loose at all?? :no:

As mentioned, how if this was a person or a small child? Your BO has a big unpredictable liability walking loose and damn right better figure something out, like keeping the dog fenced in at all times!

Sorry, but if the BO does nothing, I'd be inclined to find a new place to board. Your horse and yourself shouldn't have to put up with that B.S. and the wondering when it will happen again.

mjmvet
Oct. 24, 2009, 09:09 PM
Depending on where you live, there are some laws that require people to report all dog bites to the animal control officer. This could be a dedicated ACO, or simply a member of the local police in charge of these matters. The ACO is then responsible for following up with the owner regarding the dog's rabies vaccination status, quarantine etc. Owners can get easily offended if you question them regarding these matters, so its sometimes nice that the ACO can be the 'hard *ss' about the law.

I would NOT assume the dog is vaccinated - many, many farm dogs are not in my experience. It is good that your horse is vaccinated. (There was a horse death recently in my area because it was not properly vaccinated against rabies.)

I would be very diplomatic, but I would expect the dog owner to pay the bills for the bite. Be nice about it. "You catch more flies with honey than vinegar", so said my grandma.

If after all that, the dog is still allowed to roam loose, I would move my horse. Good luck,
Melissa, DVM

Janet
Oct. 24, 2009, 09:19 PM
SOP is to quarantine the dog (no access to any other animals) for 10 days, whether or not the rabies vaccine is current.

lcw579
Oct. 24, 2009, 09:27 PM
Devils advocate here- Since it sounds as though you didn't see the actual bite occur, it's also reasonable to assume your horse may have unknowningly done something to provoke the bite(i.e. bump the dog on a sore hip, or even bite the dog). Not saying that the dog reacted appropiately by bitting the horse, but it's a little harsh to put all the blame on the dog without knowing EXCTLY what the initial contact was. It's the same as a dog owner not recogonizing that their dog's body language provoked another dog to bite, so your reaction is to blame the dog that bit.

However, if the dog bit because of being that painful to the touch the dog's pain management protocol needs to be readdressed. A child or boarder could have had the same force trying to pet the dog, and with the same consequences. If the pain cannot be adequately managed then the kindest thing for that dog is to put him to sleep. If he acted without provocation then the only reasonable option is to confine him away from other animals and people, or put him to sleep.

If this is truely the very first incident of the dog acting aggressively to the horse I am very suspicious that there was a reason, we just don't know what it was. If i was the owner, and my dog has never shown aggressive behavior before I think my immediate response would have been to lock him up 'until i can figure out what to do' as well. It's not an easy decision to put down an animal, regardless of the reason, and expecting an owner to shoot him on the spot is a little harsh. So far their reactions and behaviors have been totally approiate, and i think that now time will tell. Make sure that any discussion you ahve with them is a discussion and cannot be interpreted as accusations or confrontation.

Katherine
Vet Tech


This. :yes:

wsmoak
Oct. 24, 2009, 09:36 PM
... The owner told me that the dog will be confined until they "figure out what to do".

I am beyond upset about this, and I really don't know what to do. Should this be reported? To who? Do I just chalk this up to a freak accident and just let it go? I really like where I board, but I can not compromise on my horse's safety, and I am worried that this will become an ongoing issue between me & owner at the barn if the dog is released...your advice is appreciated. Thank you!

Because you do like boarding there, assuming they _do_ keep the dog confined as promised and pay all your vet bills, I would wait for a few days and see what happens before saying anything. (I would, however, start looking for a new barn in case you do need to move.)

"Figure out what to do" may be code for coming to terms with the fact that the dog needs to be euthanized. That's a hard decision to make.

Cloverbarley
Oct. 24, 2009, 10:13 PM
I think you need to move. You will never be happy and accepting of the dog so it's probably best all round if you found somewhere else to board. It is the dogs home so the owners keeping him confined for the rest of his life, on their own property, may be hard for the owners to take.

I have 5 big dogs and none of them have ever done anything like this, however if one was to act totally out of character and do something like this dog has done then I would rather close down my farm to the boarding public than keep my dog confined for the rest of its life. Sorry but I have a very large farm, my dogs are my farm dogs and its their home. I do understand why you are upset, I might be too if I was you.

Hope your horse is okay and heals up without any complications.

vacation1
Oct. 24, 2009, 11:00 PM
Just the fact that they said "figure out what to do" would send me to packing my things, but that's me. People always have an excuse for biting dogs.. they've been abused, they're in pain, they see dead people, whatever... :rolleyes:

:lol: I agree with this comment. Most people with a biter know he will bite - as the BO here obviously did - and have a truckload of excuses ready to trot out when their lax handling lets him - oopsy! - bite again. I don't care if the OP's horse stuck his/her nose into the dog's ear and snorted loudly, a dog who's liable to bite a 1000lb animal that deeply doesn't belong wandering merrily around a public place. Time to kennel Mr. Cranky. Or possibly freaking medicate him. I'm not a big euth 'em earlier fan, but if a dog's in chronic pain that can't be controlled, WTF? :mad:

I'd report the bite, with full expectation of being A) treated like a crackpot by the cops, who generally do not care to deal with animal incidents and B) referred to AC, which also does not generally care to deal with animal incidents.

LisaB
Oct. 25, 2009, 08:45 AM
Leave!
If the BO has a dog in pain THAT much to bite THAT hard, then how are they really taking care of the other animals?
Plus, you're worried that they will start to let the dog back out, like nothing happened. You're probably right then.
And so when the dog bites the nose off some kid because the kid antagonized the dog, then what?