We had an incident here at Woofers recently that made us re-examine some of our policies. Late one afternoon a man came through our door and asked if we knew anything about the white dog that was running around outside. We assumed he was talking about “Ben”, a Maltese that often patrols our parking lot, marking every tire he can find.
Our assumptions were instantly proved wrong when a large, white American Bulldog ran through the door right behind the inquiring gentleman. The dog was exhibiting aggressive behavior and plowed through our store like the proverbial china shop bull. I told the gentleman that we couldn’t have the dog running around in the store like that. At this point the concerned citizen who had informed us about the loose dog let me know that the dog wasn’t his and he quietly slunk out of the store, leaving me to deal with the 90 lb land shark that was now feeding heavily on the bulk treats.
I came out from behind the counter and got the dog under control after a brief chase. She was a large female that appeared to have been in a fight recently. Her ears had what looked like fresh bite wounds, her left rear foot was bleeding and she appeared to be in heat. I didn’t like the idea of turning her out on the street again but I couldn’t accept the consequences of allowing her to stay either. It might sound heartless on the surface, but as a business our first responsibility is the safety of our customers and their dogs, so out she went.
A few minutes later a customer was taking her newly groomed dogs out to her car and I heard a commotion from the parking lot in front of the store. It seems the large bulldog had been waiting outside and had ambushed the exiting customer and one of her dogs, a Jack Russell Terrier. I ran outside and tried to separate the two snarling dogs. The Jack was on a double lead with the customer’s other dog, a Scotty. The Bulldog was lunging and snarling at them both. The Scotty was trying to get away and the Jack Russell was trying to stand his ground. The owner was getting tangled up in the double leash and looked like the victim of a terrible macramé accident.
I grabbed the lead closest to the Jack and lifted him out of reach, to keep the big dog from grabbing him and to stop the merry go round. When the Bulldog lunged at the Jack dangling from the lead, I grabbed the big dog by the collar and dropped the Jack, allowing the owner to drag the little dog to safety in her car.
At this point I had a snarling, 90 lb. American Bulldog by the collar and straddled the animal, holding the collar with both hands, hoping to avoid a dog bite. The bulldog wasn’t happy about the situation either. Lyn had seen what was going on and had called 911 and also yelled for one of the groomers to bring out a catchpole. After a couple minutes of dog wrestling we managed to get the dog secured with the catchpole. By the time Animal Control showed up 20 minutes later, everyone had settled down and I was feeding treats to the dog. She was obviously very hungry.
The Animal Control Officer loaded her up without incident. We watched with sadness as we thought about the fate of this stray dog. We had of course looked for tags or any other identifying marks but found nothing.
A little while later, after we had closed for the evening, Lyn and I had a long talk about how we might have avoided the situation and what we could have done differently. Along with some internal routine changes, we decided that we needed to implement and enforce a strict Leash Policy at Woofers. Throughout our conversation we kept coming back to the fact that it was the leash on the Jack Russell that had allowed me to pull him away from the “jaws of death.”
Many times we’ve allowed customers to bring dogs in our store, without a leash, because the dog was well behaved. We learned from this incident that a leash is necessary, even on a nice dog, because you just never know what you might encounter. While we can’t control strays and other animals we might run into; we can always control our own dog if we have him on a leash. Sometimes it can mean the difference between life and death!
As a Woofers customer, you’ll notice the new signs that have gone up in the store to remind people that their dog needs to be on a lead. We hope that this story will help you understand that the leash rule is in everyone’s best interest.