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on Dec 13, 2012
Society should start having second thoughts about cell phones. They are too attractive to the people who have them, who end up so distracted by the phone that they can't conduct their lives responsibly. I'd sue the government that didn't foresee what this innovation would cause.
I can understand suing the owner, but the ADOPTION AGENCY? Nonprofits have a hard enough time surviving these days without frivolous lawsuits.
I agree. I'm outraged at suing the nonprofit. This person has a dog?
Maybe the plaintiff should not have brought an unneutered male dog to a dog park, thereby violating the rules and asking for trouble.
I'm glad others are upset to hear that she's suing the rescue group; they have an excellent reputation. But they're likely additional deep pockets so I'm not surprised. Losing part of a finger - a permanent disfigurement - is terrible and I'm really sorry for her. The idiot who "dropped her dog off" - treating it like a grooming or dog daycare appointment - is a complete, utter, negligent idiot. GSD's are smart, active, fast dogs. From what I know about the owner from others, she relates to this fast, active side. But they can be a lot of dog - and NO dog should be dropped off to play. Will she make this idiotic mistake again?
Just today, I was thinking that being a pedestrian doesn't give one license to be an idiot. Clearly, phones have become more important than personal safety and the safety of others.
I wonder if the rescue group will try to get the dog back?
Oh yeah, btw - I posted a note to the editors of The Almanac asking why this hadn't been reported before? Any time a pit bull does anything remotely bad, the media are all over it, slavering & quivering w/glee. But when it's a different breed? Rarely reported & I had to ASK for this to be reported on locally. Safety-wise, how do people know if this idiot still takes her dog to the dog park?
You're welcome, Embarcadero Publishing.
wondreing - I was just wondering that. Was the Goldendoodle indeed intact? Totally asking for trouble. But hey, still - leaving your dog there, as Furman did, is completely negligent.
Sadly, there are too often cases which are, at a minimum, of questionable merit. However, whether or not such cases should be dismissed is a decision for a judge or jury to make.
Why should the status of the purportedly negligent person as a non-profit (or as a person of unquestioned good intention and of great repute) make any difference to the question of whether or not that person was negligent and that negligence caused an injury to another? Why should the injured person go uncompensated simply because the negligent person does a multitude of good deeds? That amounts to requiring the injured person to make a donation to the non-profit.
In any event, the non-profit, particularly one dealing with rescue animals, must be insured. If it's not, then one has to wonder how the members of its Board of Directors have been meeting their fiduciary duties to the organization.
The offending dog was already neutered when this incident happened.
This is not made crystal clear by the writer, but it seems to be the only logical interpretation of the fourth paragraph.
Also, I've yet to hear of a rescue organization that places intact dogs.
imho, the defense attorneys may be supplied by the homeowners' insurance underwriter.
If indeed the injured woman took an unaltered male dog to the dogpark, she shares some of the responsibility. I agree with everyone that suing a responsible non-profit trying to help animals is ludicrous. He may not be a "dangerous dog" -- was he responding to an attack? Would his behavior been different had his owner been more responsible in her behavior? To me, a dangerous dog is one who poses a threat when unprovoked. You can't blame this dog if it was defending itself, got the upper hand, and bit the owner inadvertently.
God Lord, this is hardly a frivolous lawsuit.
The woman lost part of her finger because of the negligence of a dog owner.
The problem with these dogs is that many people who have them do not understand. The shut down their brains and think of their animals like a big stuffed animal.
Over and over do I see dog owners being negligent and rude around people.
Dogs in public should be disallowed at this point, there are too many people who do not understand and live up to their responsibilities.
People who want to walk their dogs in public should have to take classes, get some kind of certification that updates every so often, and gets a tag that is visible and must be on the dog, and then they should have to pay for dog insurance, maybe tied to the weight of the dog ... $5 / year / pound of the dog.
We need some way to weed out idiots who do not know how to handle dogs, and not accept that just because dog violence is random and unpredictable that we cannot control it or should just ignore it.
I really love dogs, but some owners and some dogs are a big problem that in some cases can lead to death. Fix the problem!
been there - I think that wondering meant that the goldendoodle was intact, which is also a violation of the rules (such as leaving your dog unattended). There's good reason for both rules - no unneutered dogs, no unattended dogs.
Anon - you're right, it's not a frivolous lawsuit, but a number of us don't think it should've stretched to include the rescue group, although that was likely pretty automatic, given the the way attorneys operate.
If indeed the injured dog was intact, that would weight greatly w/me if I were on a jury, especially if it was a violation of the park rules.
It also of course sounds like the bite to the finger wasn't intended - many breaking up fights garner accidental bites.
If the dog has been returned w/out being deemed dangerous, that aspect of the case has been handled - now it's just the civil lawsuit.
I agree w/most of you; she should NOT be suing the rescue group -
the person MOST at fault is the idiot on the cell phone!!!
The phones as well as intact dogs should be banned from dog parks.....an owner is responsible for his/her dog at ALL TIMES!!!!
I do not know either party or frequent this park. But so far we have only heard one side of the story, and to call the shepherd's owner an "idiot" seems extreme. I have taken my dogs many times to Mitchell Park, and I would say that most of the dog owners are not running around with their dogs but are watching, many of them in conversation with one another. It is a social event for owners too! If someone were on a cell phone, I would not be particularly shocked. It's not as if the owner in this case dropped off the dog and went to the Safeway on the corner. Theoretically she could have run over as soon as she saw her dog in trouble, which is typically what I have observed at dog parks -- the owners aren't standing over the dogs, but hurry to them when there are problems.
Can someone please explain to me why this should have anything to do with anything? What difference does it make whether one or the other dog is neutered or not?
It's clearly the owner's fault. Perhaps with a lawsuit and media, she can at least finger the defendent into embarrassment. I hope Ms. Otero is successful at pulling some cash from the defendent - this incident cannot be ignored.
They should start enforcing leash laws. It's a big off-leash party at our schools around town. Not only is this dangerous for everyone, but dogs often leave feces on the lawn while the owners are socializing. Then our students come home with dog crap on their shoes and spread it all over the house.
Duveneck Elementary School allows dogs on campus that are larger than the children. I was walking by one and one tried to jump on me. In addition, the dogs leave feces on the lawn and sidewalks around campus and it gets smeared everywhere since so many children walk to school and play and roll on school lawns.
"...walked outside the fence to talk on a cellphone."
Why? Do park rules prohibit cell phones inside the fence?
Maybe the lawsuit will prompt the "rescue" group to properly vet its clients. It should not be handing out dangerous dogs to imbeciles.
Some of you don't seem to understand that this occurred at a park that is designated for off-leash dogs a few hours a day. All dogs at this park are off their leashes?
Why are intact males problematic? The same reason that females in heat are problematic. Hormones that can elicit erratic behavior in other dogs.
1. the park rules do not require that either male or female dogs be neutered. They just prohibit dogs in heat.
2. the article does not state whether Ollie is neutered or not.
3. they do state that the owner must be "in control" at all times, leash in hand.
Since I volunteer for a rescue, I would oppose suing the rescue for what seems to be neglegence on the owner's part. No matter which dog started the fight, BOTH owners should have been there to control their dogs. If the phone call was so important, the owner should have removed her dog when she answered it.
I would also add that owner to the "Do Not Adopt" list.
Parent - this is a designated dog park - it has nothing to do w/enforcing or not enforcing leash laws.
Curmudgeon - the dog has not been deemed dangerous. Clearly the owner, who's owned GSDs before, is an imbecile. Maybe she'd previously been a better owner, but now that she's cell phone happy, she's too important to follow rules. And if it's true the injured dog is intact, that was also a rule violation. Furman - what an expensive phone call that turned out to be!
Many locals worked long and hard to design a good dog park & they've succeeded. The thoughtful rules are there for a reason, not to be ignored at owner's whim.
I found the rules and they do not prohibit intact dogs. They do require that owners maintain control of their dogs, but this is a subjective criterion as the dogs are off leash and at least theoretically having a good time playing with one another. That's why you take them to the park vs playing with them at home!
I would like to know more about the shepherd owner's response. If she got off the phone as soon as the fight broke out, I don't see the problem. Her talking on the phone would be no worse than her talking to someone in person while they watched their dogs. Calling her "cell phone happy" is a judgmental comment that I would not make pending our finding out what really happened. That is a busy park and I expect there were witnesses.
To second Hmmmm's comment: I do know that it took a lot of work for the local owners to get this park and the Willow Oaks park going. It would be a shame if one bad incident had negative repercussions for a program that has worked well for so many years.
For neutering to be effective in a male animal of any species, it has to be done well before the animal goes into puberty, usually before seven months of age in the case of a dog. Otherwise, the animal's brain is already hardwired as an intact male, and the effects of testosterone remain, aside from reproductive fertility. That is to say, the late neutered animal will be more aggressive, territorial, and even sexually responsive ( though infertile) than a male neutered appropriately neutered
However, non-profit adoption centers neuter or spay to prevent unwanted puppies and "roaming" impulses, which is why they do it regardless of the animal's age.
The adoption center will usually test a dog for a tendency to aggression, "guardiness", especially around food, and label the dog as adoptable or not, in which case it is euthanized. Perhaps this dog tested well on leash, but it may have been a different story off leash, or when unattended, or in the presence of other dogs.
The adoption center was only trying to do its job, but the new owner was not doing her job as a dog owner and being attentive to her dog. She should have been in the pen with the dog. The law states that a dog must be under the control of the owner at all times when the dog is out in public, and this was not the case.
Also, German Shepherds are third after put bulls and Rottweilers for the amount of jaw pressure they have, so it is no surprise that the victim's finger was bitten off.
Of course, expert witnesses will bring all of this and more out in court, and the offending dog's owner may be barred from ever owning a dog again. Let us hope so.
Late neutering DOES generally help curb an increase in behavior problems, no matter what the above commenter says.
Are you really a zoologist? If so, what's your specialty. You're wrong re bite strength.
This actually has good info on jaw strength: Web Link
There are a number of dog species that were bred to be attack dogs. Blame the wolves or wild dogs of Africa or their human dog owners. Doesn't really matter, because aggression is bred into the genes.If one of these dogs creates mayhem, then the human owner should be held financially responsible.
Too many recent cases involve women who own these agressive dogs, possibly for personal protection, but they are incapable of controlling them. Sue them for a ton of money. Then get a cat for company.
Which cases are those, Carl?
>Which cases are those, Carl?
To start with, this one.
Then there was the incident in which a woman was walking her pitt bull, which she could not control. The male dog bit the head off a smaller dog, while crossing the street in Midtown. Then there are those cases over at Hoover Park where the women have no control over their dogs, which they leave off leash, outside the dog run (against the law, btw).
Women have no chance of controlling large aggressive dogs. They should just get a cat, or a small poodle.
Huh, interesting. I regularly walk on leash, & control, my big, dog aggressive pooch. Of course, I don't let him roam offleash nor does he go to dog parks.
Iirc, the small dog owner in the Midtown incident was also clueless, to tragic results.
>Iirc, the small dog owner in the Midtown incident was also clueless, to tragic results.
Huh? A Woman was walking her small dog across the street, in the crosswalk, with legal permission to cross. In the opposite direction comes a woman with her big pitt bull, which she could not control. The small dog got its head chewed off. It was NOT the fault of the owner of the small dog.
Women should not try to handle big dogs, because they are not capable of doing it. Sue them, when they try. Then they should switch off to cats or small poodles. We will all be better off.
That dog owner was lame. She walked toward the woman w/3 big dogs, even though the woman repeatedly asked her to stay away. BTW, it wasn't "recent" - it was more than 6 years ago. You have a selective memory which serves your biased opinion.
As a professional dog handler, I can say that I see poor dog handlers of both genders. But rule #1 of dog handling - don't leave your dog at a dog park & walk away.
Carl - go do your homework re dog handling - you're not adequately informed & your bias is laughable.
I feel sorry for the woman who was injured. Incidents like this are also bad for all of us dog owners.
I have two medium sized dogs, one is a senior and very placid, the other is younger and fearful of big dogs, so she tends to react to them with initial aggression. When approaching other dogs, if the other one is larger, I always cross the street, change direction or, if not possible, call out to the other owner to say my dog may react badly to his/her dog so they know to be ready to meet us. This works great when the other dog is on the leash. Obviously it doesn't work at all when the other dog is off-leash. We very often meet off-leash dogs at Pardee Park, Hoover Park (outside the dog run), and Greer Park. The owners who say "Don't worry, my dog is friendly" don't seem to understand that not every dog they meet will be! (And it's not at all uncommon for an otherwise friendly dog to be aggressive when it is on the leash and an approaching dog is not.)
I know this is a bit off topic, but knowing that other dog owners are likely to be reading this thread, I'd like to make my plea: Please put your dogs back on the leash. It saves so much trouble and it complies with the law.
I am now retired, however, until 2009 I was a zoologist specializing in canids and equids, that is to say, wild and domestic dogs and horses. Not a lot
of call for other species unless you want to work in a zoo or for Fish and Game.
We were taught in school (UC Riverside, 1977) that a German Shepherd has about 500 lbs pressure, measured in the back of the jaw. By comparison, a pit bull would have nearly 1,000lbs in the same area of the jaw, enough to crush bone. No animal has 2,000 lbs, except maybe a male tiger, and that is a big maybe.
Late neutering will usually, not always, help with territorial marking. It does help with "wandering ". In search of available mates, that is. It will not help with a dog who is simply an escape artist, though.
A neutered male of any species will lose a good degree of exogenous muscle tissue, which may decrease some of the jaw pressure, but that takes a couple of months to effect. In that way, he will seem easier to control because he is not as strong physically.
Regardless of how this plays out, one thing is for certain.
All the lawyers involved will make $$$
Thanks for the update, Zoologist. Have you handled a lot of dogs outside of the professional realm? Even when I've tried to stay away from dogs, they don't stay away from me, so I've given up & just accepted that my life is forever interwined w/the species.
I believe that your info on jaw pressure is outdated. Thus far, mastiffs have the stronger jaw, according to latest studies - but I don't have access to academic info, in case mine's outdated. There's the whole front jaw/back jaw debate, as well. Much of what people forget when it comes to the pit bull breeds is that they're generally more tenacious than most other breeds, in addition to being strong, so they often hold longer. It's a big reason why they're not used for bite work, too.
I've had great success w/late neutering of male dogs, very little loss of musculature if memory serves. They smell better, too. This is all anecdotal, of course, but I've handled thousands of dogs & lived w/dozens over the years, plus rescued plenty - most of them intact. I notice a change in behavior w/in weeks of neutering, as do my rescue cohorts. Thank dog it makes a big difference!
My best guess is that this was an accidental bite, but a bad one. I'm also guessing nerve damage given the partial loss of the finger. Then there's the inconvenience & pain.
So this isn't a polite thing to say, but I've noticed multiple dogs will have a bad reaction to particular dogs, as well as some breeds in general. Unfortunately, Goldendoodles are one of them (not a real breed), along w/Wheaten Terriers. Have you noticed this?
It is completely stupid to intervene in a dog fight unless both dogs are on leash.
No sensible person would intervene in a free dog fight-you are asking for serious trouble-everyone should know that-it is basic
You should leave the dogs alone-they will establish dominance and one will roll over or run away.
Worst comes to worst very rarely and a dog is mauled - people should stay out of it.
The only ones that will truly benefit from this situation is the lawyers. I see many people at the dog parks deep in conversation with one another. Don't understand the difference between that and talking on a cell phone.
Julie, that is my reaction as well. Imagine the situation occurred at a playground and two kids got into a fight while one of their parents was on a cell phone. Would we condemn that parent? If the shepherd's owner reacted in a timely manner to this incident, I fail to see how she is at fault. I tend to agree with Sharon: the plaintiff did something incredibly stupid and now needs to find someone to blame, and maybe even profit from!
I've been bitten, accidentally, by my own normally sweet dog while foolishly trying to intervene in a "food fight" between her and the other dog in our house. This resulted in infection to me and ten days' of shots at the doctor's office and quarantine of my own dog. Luckily no loss of limb, but could have, if it was my hand between the dogs and not my leg. Dog bites HAPPEN. Some dogs require more management and supervision than others.
Clearly the GSD in question wasn't a "cell phone dog" as many dogs are not, and require attention while walking and especially interacting with other dogs.
Often dog fights are a lot of posturing, and interfering with body language of dogs, such as when they are on leash and straining, sends the wrong message to the other dog who may be off leash. A little knowledge of dog body language and "calming signals" is helpful. So is keeping control of your dog and turning him/her away when they lock eyes with another dog, or asking them to make eye contact with you. Not so many companion dog owners take training to that level. And any dog can be more reactive or provocative, depending on their history or tendencies. Dog breeds have a spectrum of temperaments, just as humans. If a dog has been "jumped" by another in the past, even with no harm, it will be more vigilant and fear aggressive in the future.
GSD Rescue at fault? No--clueless owner and maybe a newly rescued dog, still in the "honeymoon" phase, and not "knowing" the dog well enough.
Especially bad for the human victim.
Have any of those opposed to the rescue being named in this suit aware of why they are included? Have you considered that maybe there is reason to believe they knew the dog had some aggression issues? Maybe the dog had prior incidents? There are a lot of unknowns and yet so many people eager to assume the attorneys are filing frivolously.
Everyone loves to hate attorneys, eager to assume the worst of all of them, until you are the one whoe loses a finger....
Making Assumptions - this rescue group has a good reputation. No group is infallible. I don't know about their temperament testing, etc., but as someone in dog rescue, I've not heard anything bad about them. That's part of why I'm guessing that this was an accidental bite. We also don't know how much or what part of the finger is permanently lost. There's a big difference between a small piece lost & a full knuckle's worth. I'm sure that'll all get dealt with in the legal wrangling.
BTW, Sharon's wrong, as usual. Many dog fights don't end well; not all dogs work it out. When a dog's jaw is around your dog's neck, of course you want to intervene & risk injury to do so.
I've come to realize that dog parks are just no good! They are if you have a very close knit community with dogs who are familiar with one another and play together. The danger comes when other dogs enter and then it becomes a territorial issue. I can understand that some very dominant dogs do not like intact males, but there should not be any rules about bringing an intact male or even a female in heat to a dog park. The issues are personal issues at the discretion of the owner. Is the owner of an intact male ready for their dog to be picked on by other dogs, attacked? I have an intact male and we stay away from dog parks for that specific reason....some dogs just don't like him because of his kahunas. He's a marshmallow with not an aggressive bone in his body. A female dog in heat could get knocked up, but there are no rules against it. Dog parks are at your own risk and at your dogs risk. But nothing in this article mentions that Ollie was not neutered. And you people talk about fees for walking dogs in public....well, we dog owners pay fees. Every year our dogs are licensed and registered with the city. But really, per pound per dog, are you out of your mind? This woman who rescued a dog and then just dropped it off is a moron....she is careless and obviously doesn't have time for a dog. She is at fault for leaving her dog unattended and the dog should be given back to the rescue. The rescue organizations should be regulated in terms of adoptability of a dog and to ensure that proper protocols are followed for adoptions. Ollie probably would have still gotten bit and the woman may still have lost part of her finger during the fight. The GS's mom should be fined for being careless, but ultimately she shouldn't have to pay for the medical bills for the finger. That was at the discretion of Ollie's mom.
And this nonsense about women owning large dogs? Seriously, Carl? Really? You wanna go there? This isn't a gender thing. I am a woman, I am strong ....I can break down a door with my bare hands....and I can certainly control my dog. The more PC way of making your "cat" point would have been to ensure the owner is strong enough to handle the dog that they adopt....this has nothing to do with gender.
The printed article and stated facts are grossly inaccurate. The German Shepard owner was standing at second base and the incident occurred at third base. While she was on her cell phone She was watching the dog and she was immediately involved with breaking up the fight. She is more attentive than most people. This incident happened very quickly and she was right there. I am not sure if the reports of her being outside the park come from Ms. Ottera in order to paint a poor picture of the German Shepard owner...but it is simply not true about her dropping her dog off and walking outside the park.
What this article fails to report is that Ms. Ottera brought an unnuetered dog into the park. Several individuals have spoken with her directly about the inherent dangers of doing this. While the unnuetered dogs may be perfectly nice they can cause neutered male dogs to act aggressively. Ms. Ottera's dog Ollie has been involved in several incidents prior to this one. Once the dogs began fighting Ms. Ottera began screaming at the top of her lungs. One could argue that this will only escalate rather than end a dog fight. Then she stuck her hand inbetween fighting dogs...never a good idea. She can not be certain her own dog did not bite her. And once bitten Ms. Ottera left the park. Without her dog.
The owner of the german Shepard was the one to make sure Ms. Ottera's dog was taken to a vet to be looked at. Ms. Ottera did not ask anyone to look after her dog...she simply left. This is hardly responsible dog ownership.
There were signs stating that no unnuetered dogs enter the park. These signs disappeared by the next morning. Prior to this incident the signs had been up for a few months.
I think it is embarrassing the level of reporting that has occurred and if I was a journalist I think I might want to get both sides of a story of this nature before printing something so inaccurate.
I think it is shameful that Ms. Ottera is suing anyone. What happened to personal responsibly? People have spoken with her on numerous occasions about her dog and it's behavior yet she still continued to frequent the park.
Before jumping to conclusions about what an idiot the owner of the German Shepard is perhaps one should ask to hear the other side of the story.
I have seen that German Shepard in the park for several weeks and it his played fine with other dogs. He is young and exuberant but not the vicious dog portrayed in this article. The owner is responsible and engaged with her dog. Just because she answered a phone call does not make her an idiot or irresponsible. I'm sure you could get plenty of people who could attest to the fact that she is involved with her dog and not just talking on her cell phone.
Thanks-good to get the complete picture-something did no sound credible in the initial claims
1/ Stay out of dog fights and let the dogs sort it out-unless you have bear strength pepper spray at hand.
2/UnNeutered dogs should be kept out of public dog parks whether they be dogs or bitches
Any vet will tell you these two lessons learned
Thank you, Emma. I had heard secondhand accounts of the incident that closely match your description, including that the plaintiff's dog was a known problem.
Even without knowing the details, I am stunned at the number of people laying into the shepherd's owner for using a cell phone. Seems like every time I'm on the freeway I see an idiot with a handheld phone or, worse, texting. Now, that is foolhardy and irresponsible. But using a phone while standing at a dog park seems totally reasonable. I may have done it myself!
The saddest aspect of this story is the Weekly's one-sided reporting.
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