Neighbors' Bad Behavior toward Dogs

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Neighbor's cruelty to their dog

Sept 2008

I have a neighbor, either through outright neglect or 'I don't give a damn', whose dog is, I believe, starving to death. The dog is confined to the back yard but got out once and I have never seen a dog with such protruding bones. This is a large breed (Rottie) and when the person first got the dog he was all muscle. These are not the type of people who will welcome someone coming to their door telling them how to raise their dog. I am most certain that if I call in animal control the dog will be euthanasied. So there is the dilemma. They are not seniors, and this is not a financial issue, as they have money to purchase alcohol. I would leave food for the dog but they are ALWAYS home. I am crazy about dogs and simply do not have a clue as to how to approach this without causing more injury to the dog. Any serious advice appreciated. concerned neighbor

This is a case of animal neglect. As someone who is ''crazy about dogs,'' your conscience should guide you. Here are two options: 1) Call animal control and tell them the situation. They should send an animal control officer (ACO) to the house who will talk with the neighbors or leave a warning. Ask for a follow-up phone call to you. This will document the neglect, and if the dog does not appear to be getting better, then you can call again. 2) Call your local SPCA and ask them to do a welfare check (some SPCA's have the resources to do this, some don't.) 3) Calla local Rottie rescue group and ask for assistance. I would recommend calling for the ACO to get a paper trail started on these owners.

The next time the dog gets out, take it inside your home and call animal control. DO NOT tell them where the dog lives, or they will simply return it. The dog will be taken to AC, evaluated and fed. If the owners care about their dog, they will find it at AC and will have to pay a fine to take it home. If they don't, then the dog will be housed until it is adopted, rescued by a Rottie rescue group, or yes, euthanized.

Please think about this. You say that you don't want the dog to be euthanized, but you are watching it starve to death. What is better, a quick death or a slow one? It also sounds as if you are afraid of your neighbors, but you can get someone to go with you and offer to take their dog from them. If they don't care, they'll give it to you. If they don't take you up on it and continue to neglect the dog, then you can call AC. This dog is suffering. It has no one to speak for it but you. Do the right thing, even if you are scared. Every day that goes by is another one on which this dog suffers. act quickly

Hello, I think that you should call animal services a.s.a.p. (510-981-6600 in Berkeley); you can do so on an anonymous basis. They will visit the property and evaluate whether they have the right to seize the dog (and hopefully press charges against the neglectful owners). Best case scenario: the dog would get medical attention and a chance at a new life with a new family. Worst case scenario: the dog is euthanized, putting an end to his misery and starvation. In the current state, both options are better than letting it continue to starve. Thank you for caring! Dog lover

CALL. THE. COPS. there is no excuse for their behavior, or yours. Why would this dog ''certainly be euthanized''?? If it is only because you think Rottweilers are unlikely to be adopted then you are wrong, and making assumptions based on little information. Call the police, then call a Rottweiler rescue, they may even come out and get the dog from the current neglectful owners. CALL THE POLICE. do not sit idly by while someone does something inhumane. CALL THE COPS

You simply MUST call Animal Control - they can keep your report confidential but this is definitely one of the things they handle. I understand you being concerned that the dog could be euthanized but there's no reason that would be the only alternative; if this is in Berkeley, you should know that dogs with a good chance of rehabilitation, even Rotties, can be referred by Animal Control to the Berkeley/East Bay Humane Society for socializing and rehoming. And if that wasn't possible, which would be crueler -- for the dog to starve to death or to be humanely euthanized? sue

Might you be jumping to an unfair conclusion? It sounds like you have other reasons for not liking these neighbors. Perhaps the dog is ill. anon

Just reading your post brings a pit to my stomach. Call Animal Control immediately!! And then call a Rottie rescue there after. AC won't put him to sleep right away and that would at least get him out of there for now.... They specifically deal with animal cruelty, so I honestly think this would be the best bet. At least he would be fed! Then you can call the rescue or the Humane Society and hopefully one of them would have space to come pick him up. Please get my contact info from the moderator and keep me posted! very concerned dog lover

Please call animal control. The dog might not necessarily be put down. You can also contact a Rottie rescue group, if there is a local one, and let them know about the situation -- maybe they can work with animal control to take the dog. If this dog is being starved, it needs help and the owners should be charged with animal cruelty. You're right that your neighbors probably won't listen to you, so go straight to the authorities. That's their job. One dog at a time

Dear Folks- If you live in Berkeley PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE call the Berkeley Animal Control. They WILL NOT put the dog down. Thank God for people like you who are willing to help rescue a poor creature. I currently own a pit-mix I adopted from the Berkeley pound. They rescued her and loved her and made sure she was people safe. She also had been starved to 25 lbs (She weighs 60 now) These jerks starve these animals IN HOPES of making the poor things cruel out of desperation and survival mode. If you live elsewhere call the Humane Society. What your neighbors are doing is AGAINST THE LAW!!! I have had two pit mix rescues that had been tortured/starved. These sweet girls helped raise litters of kittens, snuggled with my growing children and are beyond grateful for their rescue. May I beg on their behalf? Just make the call. You are in the right and a real hero. The dog will not be put down, but rather given a second chance on a real life! Susan McReynolds

PLEASE CALL ANIMAL CONTROL RIGHT AWAY!!! This is the poor dog's only chance to get help and hopefully a better life. Even if the most humane thing to do is to euthanize the dog, that is better than letting him starve to death. And it's not just about this one dog. If he dies, chances are the owners will just get other pets to abuse. Animal control needs to have these people on their radar so there is a record of their abuse. Their behavior may warrant criminal charges or restrictions on their ability to own future pets. Check out for more info on what constitutes cruelty and how and why to report it. Per the ASPCA's motto, ''We are their voice''. If you don't act on this dog's behalf, who will? Animal Lover

Can you try contacting some dog rescues, like the Milo foundation? There are several in the bay area, there may even be one specific to those dogs that have trouble getting adopted, like pits and Rotweilers(SP?). they may have some suggestions, or if they know ahead of time that you are concerned about a particular dog you could perhaps call the humane society but let them know you have already been in touch with some rescue leagues. We recently turned a found dog in to the animal shelter, he was then deemed unadoptable, but I kept calling back and eventually I got the right volunteer on the phone who took the time to call around to a rescue league, where he is now and will be until someone adopts him. I think the humane society and the animal shelter are two different things, and I would recommend calling the HS over the shelter, but I am not really sure about that. anonymous

I'm so sorry you have to deal with this, but the fact is, either that dog is going to starve to death slowly and painfully, or you are going to call the local SPCA or animal shelter and file a complaint. Yes it is possible that the dog is so far gone it will be euthanized, but consider the options: either the dog starves to death slowly, or it gets good, loving care and either survives, or has to be humanely euthanized. I'd pick the latter, and it is your obligation as a humanitarian or dog lover or whatever, to report this gross neglect of a helpless animal. The call can be anonymous, and you need not be implicated at all. Please, please, please... just call animal control. They will investigate and take action as they see fit. Usually, it's on the side of the animal. This dog deserves much better than you describe and will eventually die if left in this situation. -- A dog lover and owner

You MUST call animal control. I'm not sure why you think it will be euthanized? I think most places only put down dogs who are aggressive, within a set period of time. Then they may after that time, but you never know what may happen before that. Regardless, you cannot think of that. That dog should not be treated that way, and if you can do anything at all to stop it you really should. And those people should not be allowed to have dogs again, so you need to report them. Really. This is the only time I have ever responded to a question on this list by telling someone what to do, but as someone who adopted a dog from the city shelter (who was very badly treated before)- I just feel so, so passionately about this. Another option is if it is a pure bred there might be a rescue organization for that breed you can contact. But please, please do something. Please. anon

Call the local rescue agencies and see if they will work with the APSCA to have them forcibly retrieve the dog then hand it over to them. There must be an option other than euthanization. This is surely not a new problem. trying to help

Absolutely call animal control now! I worked with animal control for years and I can tell you for certain it is the best move you can make. They will NOT automatically euthanize the dog. They will seize the dog and file charges against your neighbor. They will take the animal to the Vet and do lots of tests to check for disease and rehydrate and nourish the dog. There are rescue groups and the Humane Society that will take over from there. The only reason the euthanize would be if the dog was beyond help and could not be saved. If that's true he'll die in your neighbor's backyard anyway. You will not be signing the dog's death warrant you'll be saving it's life!!! jen

You need to do something!!! You can start with calling some of the local animal groups on this website: Please help the poor dog... Animal Lover

Thank you for being a such caring person. This poor dog sounds like it is, at best, neglected, which is in itself a type of abuse.

Animal Control in Berkeley works like this: They investigate the report and first try to do ''education'' of the owners. If there isn't improvement, they will seize the dog. If the dog is adoptable, ie. no severe illness or severe behavioral problems, it will be cared for at the shelter and put up for adoption. Euthanasia is not the first order of business. (Although even if it were, my feeling is that it would be better for the animal to be put to sleep than continue to suffer, but that's just me.)

I implore you, beg you to call Animal Control. Right now, as soon as you finish reading this! I have included the information below. Do not try to approach these people yourself because they obviously are at a minimum uncaring and at worst quite cruel. But they need to be put on notice by authorities that this behavior is totally unacceptable.

We who are in a position to help are the stewards of all suffering creatures, animal and human. This dog is likely going through a prolonged hell and if you can be strong and reach out, you'll have done a great thing.

2013 Second Street, Berkeley, CA 94710 TEL: (510) 981-6600, Office Hours: M., Tu., Th., Fri., Sat.: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. / Wed- - 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. / Sun- 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Email: animalservices [at] Another humane human

Dear Concerned Neighbor, What a horrible situation. Hopefully you can do something to help this dog get nutrition before it is too late. If you have not already done so, please call the Berkeley Humane Society and discuss the situation. Make sure you are speaking to a supervisor or one of the senior staff members. Here's another resource to try: Rottweiler Rescue in Davis (530) 753-3281. Please keep in mind that the dog will not necessarily be euthanized - my understanding is that this will depend on the assessment of his temperament. But think about this: starving to death would probably be a lot worse than being put to sleep. I asked a dog rescue person I know about what she would advise, and she said that the Berkeley animal shelter is the one who deals with cruelty etc., and they enforce animal laws. (Berkeley's Animal Care Services aka BACS: 981-6600, open 7 days a week) She said ''If someone would vouch for it, perhaps a Berkeley shelter would reclaim the dog & agree turn it over to foster care?'' She also suggested that maybe someone could offer the owners $$ to buy the dog from them. Or that you could offer to take the dog off their hands in exchange for NOT calling animal control.

Please, whatever you do, do it as fast as you can for the sake of this poor animal. It seems like the sooner you get someone to take action, the more likely it is that this dog can actually be saved. It also occurs to me that if these people are allowed to get away with this, they are likely to repeat this behavior with another dog. My own preference would be to see the dog removed asap, and see them prosecuted for animal cruelty. If you can, snap some photos of the dog in its environment, and try to capture the fact that the dog's bones are showing through. Good luck to you.