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Bitten at the Dog Run
  • HibariShibaHibariShiba
    Posts: 204
    Here in Tokyo, Japan, dog runs are usually a good place to take your dog. Things tend to be pretty civilized, most everybody is friendly and responsible. However, this week, Ponta got bitten by a White Shepherd, and I am kind of wondering what the usual protocols are in the U.S. for such a thing.

    There is a guy who comes to this one park with some frequency with a pair of white shepherds. For Japan, these are pretty big dogs; usually a lab will be the biggest dog in the run. These two shepherds were always boisterous when I saw them (maybe 2 or 3 times), but didn't seem too out of control.

    We were at the run this week, and everything was okay. At one point, a few new dogs, a pair of border collies, were introduced. Ponta didn’t seem to like them very much, but had approached one. He growled and barked a bit, and the other dog growled and barked back—nothing really unusual, but enough for me to get up and stand over them, ready to pull Ponta out should things get dicey.

    Just as Ponta and the collie had a bark-and-stance, with one other dog close in, one of the white shepherds jumped into them, and it devolved into what I suppose you could call a scrum—all dogs at close quarters, barking and making such close contact that there was no space between any of them. Almost immediately, within a second or so, I saw the shepherd bite into Ponta’s neck, and had no doubt that this was way more serious than usual. Ponta yelped and more or less screamed, and it was clear that his teeth were deep into Ponta’s neck.

    Within a few seconds, the scrum separated, but the shepherd kept confronting Ponta. Ponta was unmistakably scared and defensive, trying to get away. I picked Ponta up; at that point, I was not sure that Ponta’s skin had been broken, but I was fairly sure he had taken some damage, even if just a bruise.

    But here was where I became livid at the owner of the shepherds: the jerk didn’t do anything about his dogs. He hadn’t when the one got out of hand, and he didn’t when they started harassing me. I was holding Ponta up, but the shepherd was still going after him, jumping up next to me, barking, and scaring the crap out of Ponta. It seemed pretty clear he would not do anything to me, but I got the clear impression that he wanted another go at my dog.

    And the jackass who owned the shepherds still did nothing.

    After 5 or 10 seconds, I got Ponta away from that area and the shepherd lost interest. The owner also took zero interest, though Ponta was clearly hurt. I probed Ponta’s neck and was shocked when I felt my finger go through a puncture in his skin—easily big enough that it was clear the wound was bigger than my finger. It felt warm and wet, and when I drew my finger out, it had blood on it.

    I turned to the owner, who was peering at us, and I said, rather clearly, “Ana ga aru! Chi ga deru!” (“There’s a puncture! Blood is coming out!”)

    The owner did not react, but simply turned and walked away, apparently unconcerned.

    Ponta was a wreck; he was whimpering and his tail was down, and when I held him his heart was beating like crazy and he was shaking awfully hard. Sick with worry, we got Ponta out of there, back to the car, and took him to the nearest animal hospital. As we were waiting for a vet, it became clear that Ponta was bleeding a bit—but his neck fur is so thick, it’s kind of hard to see anything, and it holds the blood in.

    The doc gave Ponta a local anesthetic, cleaned the wound, and then stitched it up and applied an antibiotic ointment before he applied gauze to the wound, then wrapped Ponta’s neck with tape. Ponta is now doing better, though he was in pain for the first few days, and is still a bit more subdued than usual. We hope that this was not too traumatic to him; his tendency to sleep more and be less active than usual could be the wound, bandages, and drugs--and on walks, he still acts as usual with dogs we encounter, which is friendly and curious.

    Sachi later called up the park office which oversaw the dog run. To our dismay, they refused not only to identify the owner so we could contact him, but also refused to take any action beyond simply making a record of our call. You have to register and show immediate proof that the dog has its shots, after which you get a pass card to enter the run. However, apparently after that, the park does little or nothing, even in an incident such as this.

    One point about all of this which is less bad than expected: vet bills in Japan are much lower than you’d expect. For injections, shaving & cleaning the wound, stitches, ointment, dressing, and the time spent by a vet and a nurse, in addition to a week’s medication, I expected a bill at least in the hundreds of dollars.

    Instead, the bill came out to ¥8,295—just $85. Subsequent visits are 2100 yen, a touch over $21. I presume it's higher in the U.S.?

    ===

    My question to this board: what is usually done in cases like this in the U.S.? Is the owner of the dog that bites considered responsible in any way? Or perhaps would the altercation simply be deemed an "act of dog" and que sera sera?

    At the very least, I want to confront this guy and hand him the vet’s bill—though, considering his alarming unconcern at the time, I have the feeling he’s not the kind of person who would take any sort of responsibility for his dogs. Another possibility I am mulling is to make a handout, showing the dogs and the owner, and a photo of Ponta’s wound, describing what happened, and warning people to watch out for those dogs. Maybe post it up outside the run or something.

    But then, I am still more than a little pissed at the jackass; maybe I’ll calm down eventually.

    Not knowing the protocols here, I am just curious how someone might handle this elsewhere.

    Thanks!

    [mod edit: changed category]
    Post edited by sunyata at 2013-05-03 13:36:57
  • sunyatasunyata
    Posts: 8589
  • lindsaytlindsayt
    Posts: 4786
  • amtiamti
    Posts: 1066
    Sorry your cute Ponta was injured. I have to agree with sunyata in regards to any signage posted on the park. Chances of getting reimbursed are dependent on how you approach the matter with the other party and whether they felt responsible or not. If you have a koban near you, you can ask them for advice. The omawarisan are very helpful to gaijin or anyone who asks nicely for help.

    Was the owner of the sheperds Japanese? If so, contact them in person politely and explain what happened. Show them the vet bill and ask them off they would consider paying for part of it. Be sure you apologize for the inconvenience and for the negative encounter your dogs has and never fully come out and tell the other person it was all their fault. I think most responsible pet owners, regardless of nationality or country, would be open to hearing what you have to say as long as the conversation is respectable. Bowing your head goes a long way in Japan. As far as having them pay, no telling. But the worst that can happen is that they say no. Even if he doesn't pay, he needs to know what his dogs did and that his dogs cannot be trusted to roam the park freely anymore without more supervision on the owner's part.

    You have it nice with the vet bills being so low! My son's vet (where he works) is one of the most reasonable ones in the city. He charges $25 to see your pet and that fee is waived if you are getting shots. Emergency clinics around here charge $75 just to see your pet. When my husband was in Japan he had what he thought was heart pain. It turned out to be acid reflux. But he went to a Japanese hospital and got the full works over three hours and it was only about $300 with meds.

    Be sure to keep an eye out on Ponta's neck. Puncture bites can get infected easily. Any sign of a bump, he needs to go back asap and get it drained.
    Post edited by amti at 2013-05-03 16:21:15
  • HibariShibaHibariShiba
    Posts: 204
  • amtiamti
    Posts: 1066
    You should be able to feel any bumps forming under the dressing unless the dressing is very thick. And you'll also notice a decline in activity in Ponta if he starts getting a fever from the infection. I'm assuming you also got antibiotics, so hopefully none of this will be an issue. Good luck!
  • Having lived in Yokosuka for three years, I'm shocked that the owner of the shepherds was so uninvolved. I would have expected exactly what you described: A whole lot of instant apologies. I almost wonder if the guy wasn't Japanese, but perhaps Korean or Chinese...
  • curlytailscurlytails
    Posts: 2779
  • HibariShibaHibariShiba
    Posts: 204
  • curlytailscurlytails
    Posts: 2779
  • CaliaCalia
    Posts: 3664

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