Updated: Dec 22, 2020
Working with your neighbors, not against them…
Through my many dealings within the community, I am approached by fellow dog lovers about how to confront a nearby neighbor that may be suspected of mistreating or neglecting a family animal companion. We MISTAKINGNLY want to react with aggressive and ineffective means. This particular article is directed to the "not so severe" cases only. Let's look at one example and find some possible proactive and preventive measures in insuring the quality of life is suitable for the "pooch across the street", so to speak...
Case in point: You initially come upon your young neighbor that has a somewhat skinny dog chained outside with no shelter and water bowl knocked over and no chew toys in the area, etc.
Your role: Let us not forget that you need to be very certain of the accusations and the severity of situation(s). This means EVALUATE the SITUATION first!! How long has the dog been outside? Was the dog just placed out there recently due to other reasons (repairs, awaiting containment, etc. ) Do you truly know the dog or cat is being abused or neglected? Or, is this a common case of over-reacting by initial and distant observation... on your part. Are you privvy to all the facts, not mere assumptions? Did the neighbor across the street by some reason or another just inherit this unexpected pooch and is uneducated on the proper treatment and care of this newfound friend... (dog was a previous boyfriend/girlfriend's, their mother-in-law's dog, an abandoned dog, etc.). Too many people jump first and don't truly investigate. Finding out the dog is in not as severe of a situation as previously assumed, you should delve into the next step...EDUCATE the neighbor with tact and positive motivational techniques. Some ideas could be dropping by and soliciting your services and expertise with assisting your neighbor or solicit a fellow resident expert on the matter to handle it for you. By being inquisitive, using kind words and a tactical approach to the matter, you may find that the owner of this bundle of joy has such been placed in this newfound situation and has no clue on raising or protecting his new "roommate". So, tread lightly and investigate, then give helpful solutions and aid where you can. Play and active role
in helping with the construction of safe shelters or containment areas,
educate your neighbor on nutritional needs, socialization and so on.
Temporarily volunteer to assist during the down times or even while things
are put into place for them. After these measures are taken, "slack of on
the involvement" and then observe at a distance. So, next we want to
MONITOR at a distance within reason, legal limitations, and with common
I do want to caution the OBSESSIVE dog lovers out there though... the way
others treat their animals may not be to your stringent standards but still
be just as loving and appropriate. In other words, you may sleep with your
dogs and other owners have outside dogs that are just as loyal and happy as
yours. Each situation calls for individual design so long as the physical, social
and mental well-being is accomplished between the owner and their animal
companions. I stress common sense and common rules. If you are not a
subject matter expert, I suggest that you use caution when prejudging your
neighbor's techniques. Become a positive role model for your unknowing
neighbor instead of becoming the neighborhood prude. Attempt to use
positive steps before getting animal control or law enforcement in the case.
If it is truly just a neighbor who is simple ignorant and not abusive, then
works towards a more positive solution...not become part of the problem. If
you talk the talk, walk the walk, I say!
Ladies and Gentlemen, I assure you that this advice is coming from an
obsessive dog lover who took the long and arduous steps to learn self -
control and not to jump to erroneous conclusions when I came upon some
skinny, dirty hound out playing in the yard that was actually a well-cared for
pedigree simply taking a break from agility training events, whatever! Judge
not your neighbor so harshly folks. For even you know not everything! I
literally had to keep my self control and consider what was best for both
parties. Through all this, you may find the individuals in question are truly
good people but were bombarded with a new "creature comfort" they
weren't ready for. So, be part of the solution. Trust me, if they're not
right for a dog, your last resort options may have to come into play. Be
patient...remember, evaluate, educate and advise, assist, monitor and then
re-evaluate and use animal control as an "imminent danger solution" and if
not use them as a last resort for all other situations.