This is a question pertaining to the protection of my pet in a dangerous situation and also about how to deal with another pet owner. Hopefully I'm not asking something outside the scope of this site.

I have had two large dogs nearly killed (ripped to shreds) by my neighbor's two aggressive pitbulls.

The first one wandered off of my property when attacked, being young he was probably trying to go make some friends. Since it was off of my property, it was my responsibility.

I had to eventually give that dog away to some great people because I refused to keep him tied/pinned up and he didn't respond quickly enough to my training attempts, and kept leaving the property.

Now I have adopted a puppy which responded very well to training. He and another dog in my care both stay on the property at all times.

The second attack, last week, was in front of my house. I came out to whimpering and had to chase the 2 pits away from the older dog in my care and it was badly injured. The neighbor paid for the bills.

I have called the police over and the officer suggested that I might need to shoot the dogs if they're posing a threat to my property. I do not want to do that though.

  • I live on a large fenced-in property outside of the city limits. The main entrance gate is the only open entrance to the property.

  • I do not wish to tie my pets up or keep them in a pen. We have large fenced in property with ponds that the dogs enjoy playing in freely, and they have been trained to stay away from the front gate.

  • Keeping the dogs inside is prohibited.

  • I've informed the neighbor on each occasion, and on the most recent attack he payed for the vet bills, but last night I had to run one of the bulldogs away from my house again.

  • The neighbor refuses to train or keep the dogs tied / pinned up.

Please give advice on how I might solve this problem peacefully.

  • 1
    Just a different perspective to consider: what if I, a complete outsider, happened to be in your neighbourhood for my own reasons, and happened to get in the way of any of the dogs? Whom might I sue for my injuries?
    – ClickRick
    Jun 30, 2014 at 17:22
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    @ClickRick this is not a neighborhood. It's 30+ acres of fenced-in property on the highway, not within the city limits.
    – user2477
    Jun 30, 2014 at 17:43
  • 5
    You have animals nearby that act violently and have a history of attacking other dogs; you are unwilling to secure your property; it seems like "peaceful" is unrealistic. You can not reason with vicious animals, and unless you are willing to secure your property to prevent their entry then it seems inevitable that history will repeat
    – Critters
    Jul 1, 2014 at 15:06
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    I am at a loss here: everyone in this situation refuses to leash/ tie up their dogs. I can't believe how irresponsible that is. You have a fenced in yard, yet your dogs were attacked outside the front gate, correct? Why are they even leaving the property to begin with?
    – Steve D
    Jul 2, 2014 at 22:13
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    You might want to consider editing your question to remove all the irrelevant information, such as, "I don't want to tie up my dogs." (If you aren't willing to tie up your dogs, you shouldn't expect the neighbor to tie up his.) The problem is that the neighbor's dog is entering your property and attacking your dogs. Just work at solving that problem instead of including other information that only serves to confuse the issue.
    – rob
    Aug 15, 2015 at 0:10

4 Answers 4



You have a conflict where your neighbor's self-interest and yours don't seem to align. You also have a moral responsibility to take preventive action before your dogs are hurt, rather than punitive action after the fact. You have options; they're just not the ones you want.

Analysis and Recommendations

The neighbor refuses to train or keep the dogs tied / pinned up.

Questions about how to make some other person do what you want are never productive, since you can't actually control anyone but yourself. If animal control or the local police aren't able to influence the situation, and you can't find a mutually-beneficial solution that you and your neighbor both agree on out of enlightened self-interest, then it's up to you to decide how important it is to manage the situation to maximize your dogs' safety.

I do not wish to tie my pets up or keep them in a pen. We have large fenced in property with ponds that the dogs enjoy playing in freely, and they have been trained to stay away from the front gate.

Life is full of sub-optimal choices. You can't control your neighbor or his dogs, but you can control the fact that your gate is left open and your dogs aren't kept safely in a fenced-in portion of your yard.

The smart money here would be on fencing in a portion of your back yard where your dogs can do what they like in safety. Since you say most of your yard is already fenced, the cost of adding a little additional fencing to fully-enclose the back should be quite modest. Six-foot privacy fencing is the best solution if your dogs' safety is paramount.

The main entrance gate is the only open entrance to the property.

Alternatively, you could simply put a gate that closes at the entrance to your property. You can make the choice to trade the mild inconvenience of having to open and close the gate when needed for the dual benefits of not having to add additional fencing or to further restrict your dogs for their safety and your own peace of mind.

You have choices. They may not be the choices you want, and they may not be "fair" (whatever that really means) to you or your dogs, but they are safety-conscious and non-violent solutions to a problem that you say you care about. If you choose to stand on principle, even knowing that your dogs are likely to be hurt or killed unless you take the necessary steps...well, I can't really see how that's anyone's choice but yours.

  • 1
    I was also going to suggest closing up the entrance at the front gate. You can also get a remote-controlled gate and/or add a button outside the gate that visitors can push to open it without getting out of the car.
    – rob
    Aug 15, 2015 at 0:01

As I see it there are two similar issues here.

a) Stopping your dogs going next door is your problem. If your dogs get torn to pieces next door, that should be on your conscience, not your neighbours.

b) Likewise, your neighbour has responsibility to stop his dogs coming into your yard.

Until you can stop your dog(s) going over the road, I doubt there's much the police can reasonably do, as the neighbour will undoubtebly state that your dog was initially in his yard.

i) It seems as though your neighbour isn't going to do anything without the law being on your side.

ii) Until you can control your dogs, the law probably won't be on your side.

iii) By putting up a fence to keep your dog(s) in, it will hopefully also keeps his out. Isn't that what you want?

iv) To me shooting a neighbours dog is an idea completely alien to where I come from. If this is deemed as a sensible and normal option, then.. well....

NB: I am not a lawyer, and do not know your laws, know yours before you act.

p.s. after reading this and Matts answer, it seems a though we are of the same mind...

  • Note: Now, my dogs do not leave the property and attacks / trespasses have been on my property. We've had to run the animals away from our house. I thought I explained as much.. As I said, we gave away the dog that we couldn't control. But yes, my dogs are controlled. I have decided to avoid a violent solution until authorities have an opportunity to handle the problem.
    – user2477
    Jun 30, 2014 at 16:44
  • Also perhaps I could offer to buy the neighbor a shock-collar system. I just thought of that.
    – user2477
    Jun 30, 2014 at 16:45
  • @jt0dd somehow missed that. What I was trying to state was that the law probably won't be on your side unless you can prove you have done all you can to aid the situation. Looks though you have. re the collar - ultimately there's only so far you can go if you have an unreasonble neighbour. It's a matter of personal preference as to how far you need to go before getting in contact with the authorities. Jul 2, 2014 at 8:46

Stating like the others, that I am not a lawyer and not even a US citizen: For solid legal advice see a lawyer.

However I still wish to outline something:
If your neighbour's dogs are attacking yours that is property damage. Animals are things and even if not they're clearly not persons, so specific laws about trespassing might be hard to apply.

(Speaking for my country) His dogs are considered his responsibility, their actions are his to control and their infractions are his to prevent and if occured, pay for.
He seems to be aware of that.
Furthering that concept your dog is part of your property, so when it is currently being attacked by his dogs, that is a crime in progress which would allow you to act in self defense.
Even if you make a consideration to not excessively damage your neighbour in relation to the damage you fended off yourself (shooting someone dead because they're scratching your car would be excessive eg.) you'd find that you damage his property to protect yours, in which case you're totally fine to act, as the attacker bares the risk of excessive damage. He is the one who started the unjustified quarrel after all.
From what I know in most states of the US the regulations for self-defense are even looser than that.

Long story short if his dogs are in the act of attacking yours, whilst yours has not trespassed their territory or something like that, you're morally right to shoot them, possibly legally, but again that is for a lawyer to determine.

Also I can understand your reluctance about shooting your neighbour's dogs. Especially as they are a product of their raising and training (or lack thereof) it can hardly be considered their 'fault', then again neither it is your dogs fault.

Whether you have done all you peacefully can, that is hard to say.
You possibly should consider suing your neighbour for damages as well as for a restraining order in regards to his dogs, so that he has to put them on a chain or something. After that I don't see a lot more peaceful that wouldn't do yourself and your dog great injustice, such as keeping your dog on a rope.

  • I think I will avoid shooting them until the local police have had an opportunity to handle it. +1.. Perhaps that will fix it. Perhaps I could have animal control take the animals too; someone pointed that out to me as well. It would also avoid the violent solution, and as you said, this isn't the dogs' fault.
    – user2477
    Jun 30, 2014 at 16:40
  • And I just thought, your answer could include suggestions that include offering to help the neighbor out to install a shock collar system, or buy him one of those systems that run a wire between two trees and allow the owner to tie up the dogs with plenty of freedom.
    – user2477
    Jun 30, 2014 at 16:49
  • @jt0dd yeah, shock collars might Do something, but it sounded like the neighbour wasnt cooperative to the least Bit so I plainly did Not think in that direction.
    – Mark
    Jun 30, 2014 at 17:42
  • I don't know.. He is reasonably cooperative with communicating, but refuses to contain the animals. It's worth a try!
    – user2477
    Jun 30, 2014 at 17:45
  • In some countries (like mine) even the dogs attacking someone on the dogs' property is not considered as legal; the "beware the dogs" signs have absolutely no legal value!
    – go-junta
    Aug 15, 2015 at 1:03

As I understand things, by paying for your vet bills, your neighbor has admitted that his dogs are dangerous - you should be able to take all the documentary evidence you have (you did keep it all, didn't you?) to your local animal control and/or law enforcement (depending on jurisdiction) and request that your neighbor be required to keep his dogs controlled or have them put down.

The requirements for that in a rural area as you've mentioned you're in could be a bit looser than they would be in a more urban location, so you probably want to check with the authorities and ask them if there's a cooperative solution you could work with (since having the authorities put the dogs down for being dangerous would irretrievably damage and decent relationships you have with that neighbor - probably about as much as having to shoot one of the dogs would do).

Good luck.

  • Do you have advice on how I might convince the pet owner to contain the pit bulls if the problem persists after authority intervention? I have thought of offering to help him install a shock collar system, but that might not work with large dogs.
    – user2477
    Jun 30, 2014 at 20:00
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    Honestly, if the owner isn't going to contain them after authority intervention, you don't have too many options. Any dog needs to be properly trained, and these haven't been - they're big enough and stubborn enough that they'd need a tall solid fence to contain them, and it's not likely the owner would train them if he hasn't done so at this point. You might be able to convince the owner to install fencing by offering to share costs, you might not.
    – Kate Paulk
    Jul 1, 2014 at 10:58