The Right Coast

July 07, 2004
Just another day in the neighborhood
By Tom Smith

I just got back from the Emergency animal hospital, where I took my beloved lab Biscuit after she was attacked by a vicious Chow that came up onto our property and tore most of the skin off of her rear leg. It was a gruesome injury, but it looks like she can be repaired. She's in surgery now. This is going to cost about $1000 and the owner of the evil beast has already said he will pay for it. I'll believe it when the check clears, but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt for now. I've just about finished the triple scotch prescribed for occasions such as these. Somewhere there is fury lurking about, but I hope it dissipates before it too sinks its teeth into me.

Biscuit is a small, lean lab, a purebred, but really a locally bred hunter rather than a show dog, like my other lab. She is amazingly stoic, as many dogs are. Most humans would be screaming bloody murder if their skin was degloved from crotch to knee. Biscuit just whimpered and then shut up. Now fortunately she is unconscious and before that was flying on Air Morphius.

It's just one damn thing after another, it seems. Try not to panic and keep your check book ready.

UPDATE: Biscuit is back from the hospital, drugged out and with a shaved butt, sleeping on my couch. She looks like hell, frankly, but I am glad to have her home. The wound was 25 cm long and took who knows how many hundred stitches. A bunch. She has two surgical drains in the wound and she is steadily leaking pink fluid, as she is supposed to. The owner of the evil Chow showed up at the clinic to pay the bill, to his credit. He turns out to be the pastor at a tiny local church, raising the question of why he keeps such a vicious dog. I am glad he spared me the stress of having to sue him, which, trust me, I would have.

The law professor in me responded by finding the law on shooting a dog that comes onto your property and is threatening your dog. It turns out there is in California a common law right to kill a dog that is threatening your dog or child, for example, under reasonable circumstances. You might have to prove it was reasonable, however. There is a statutory privilege to shoot dogs that are worrying your livestock. I think a gun is probably not a practical defense against a wandering, vicious dog, however, as dog attacks happen so quickly. By the time you got your gun, the harm would be done. I'm not going to pack a pistol every time I go outside. I think this is a job for a big stick sort of weapon, the sort of thing you could keep outside. I just love this country living.