I’m a Bit Overprotective of My Pets

I have come to the realization that I may be slightly, and by slightly I mean incredibly, over-anxious when it comes to my animals. As such, I can be pretty judgmental when it comes to the behavior of other pet owners. I try to stay as open-minded as possible when it comes to other people’s behavior when it has no bearing on me personally, but this is one area that I just can’t, or rather, won’t.

Last night, we were walking our dog, Lola, and my brother’s dog, Oxford, who we are dog-sitting. There is a small office complex across the street with big swaths of grass that the pups love to explore. After they had their fill of playing fetch (Oxford, that is. Lola looks at you like you are ridiculous if you try to get her to fetch something), and the old “sniff and pee on everything” (THAT is how Lola rolls), we headed home. As we were nearing the street, we saw another little dog running around the edge of the complex. I will always, ALWAYS, attempt to get loose dogs to come to me, as long as I can do it safely for myself and my dogs, in order to find their owners and prevent them from being hit by cars. This means I come home with random dogs pretty regularly, but better that than a dead dog in the street. I start crying when I see roadkill (unless it’s a possum. Fuck possums.), so I don’t even want to imagine how I would feel if I let a loose dog roam free only to see it dead in the road later on.

Photo of a small yorkie dog sitting atop a blue, white and brown pillow yawning
My fierce little lioness, Lola
Photo of a black Labrador wearing a brown leather collar with a gold name tag
My gorgeous niece, Oxford

The little dog was mildly cautious, but came over to us because he wanted to sniff our our dogs. Once he was close enough that we could get a hold on his harness – which he was wearing but it had no ID tag on it, which is infuriating – I ran the other two dogs home so I could return with a leash for him. By the time I got back, Jon had followed him to the door of a beauty salon in the complex. He seemed to know the place, so I went inside to see if they were missing a dog. The stylist, who was blowing a client’s hair dry, replied that yes, she was. She followed me out, then gave us more of the story. She lets the dog out regularly, unsupervised, so he can use the restroom. She goes back inside, where there are no windows to see out to where the dog has been loosed, and, allegedly, he comes and knocks at the door when he is done. Perhaps this is actually true; I can’t be sure. When we saw him, he was nearing the street that people typically drive about 35-45 MPH down in the middle of the parking lot of the plaza. So she wasn’t actually “missing” a dog in the traditional sense; she lets him roam free near busy streets and hopes for the best. Jon quickly ended the conversation and steered me towards home since he could see the rage blackout setting in. Once that happens, I can no longer be held responsible for tearing people new assholes with some choice words.

I get that not all people treat their animals like precious little puffballs of love and affection that must be shielded from anything that may hurt them because they are, while adorable, kinda dumb when left to their own devices. I mean, come on, Lola doesn’t know the difference between me being gone for five minutes or five days. She is beyond excited to see me every time I return from outside, deliriously happy because she was pretty sure I was never coming back. I also get that country dogs are a whole different breed, roaming the fields day and night with no problems. However, allowing a dog to roam around a office complex unleashed and unsupervised is inexcusable, particularly without any identification. I would not only be terrified of the dog being hit by a car, but also of being stolen or getting into a fight with another dog. People in our old neighborhood used to let their dogs roam free all the time, making navigating the neighborhood resemble a game of Frogger. It enrages me because if I hit a dog due to their owner’s utter fucking negligence, would feel terrible for the rest of my life.

I know I am preaching to the choir here. It is clear how much we all adore and cherish our little nuggets. I just hate that so many people view their animals as nothing more than something inconsequential and disposable. I joke with Jon that Lola and I have a murder/suicide pact; when she goes, I go. I don’t remember what my life was like before her, and I can’t imagine my life without her.

Photo of red headed woman holding a yorkie with long hair covering its eyes
Come ON! How cute is that muppet?

How do you all deal with irresponsible pet owners? Do you confront them? Give them a piece of your mind? I am really tempted to go have a tag made for the dog with the name and number of the salon and take it over there and say “If you are going to let your dog run free, you should at least have a way for people to contact you if they find her dead in the street.” Too much?


7 replies on “I’m a Bit Overprotective of My Pets”

Oh, God, this would worry me sick, too.

Here’s how I would probably handle it, though. I would stop by the salon to check in on the pet (ostensibly), and I would offer her an “extra” dog pen that she can put her dog in so he can go potty safely. Tell her that you are worried that someone would snatch up such a cute little dog, especially a tag-less one, and that you’ve heard of it happening before. Also mention that even if the dog doesn’t seem to be at risk of running into the street, that it’s possible that something — like, say, an encounter with another, larger dog — might startle him enough that he would run into the street. Use your own encounter as an example.

If she says yes, then I would get on Freecycle or Craigslist and see if you can obtain a pen that way.

Yes, it’s a lot of work, but if you can make it easy enough, and make sure that she doesn’t feel blamed, you might be able to keep the dog safe and also educate the human.

Yours in roundabout, non-confrontational solution-finding,


P.S. If nothing else works, you might want to mention that if something were to happen to the dog, it would be upsetting not just for her, but for all of the customers at the salon, since you are sure there are lots of people there who just adore that little dog. (Implication being, of course, that bad pet care is bad for business.)

My first instinct would be to call the board of health, because salons are generally governed by the same set of rules as restaurants, meaning no animals except service animals are allowed on the premises. But then I’d be afraid that would backfire and the dog would end up with animal control at the pound.

This is a good idea, I’m just concerned that she wouldn’t really care. She definitely seemed like the type of person who expects the dog to be convenient for her, and is t interested in taking on anything that might cause her extra work. I’m not sure if the complex would allow the pen in the lawn, either, but I am going to look into it. Could be a good way to calm my nerves and keep him safe.

I always forget you have a Lola, too! I’m horrifically overprotective of my dogs. After my boy dog was attacked by a loose husky about six years ago, I’ve pretty much isolated them from other dogs completely. We got them both as seniors, and they had socialization problems to begin with, so I think the best thing I can do as a pet owner is not put my dogs or other people’s dogs in a position where something tragic can happen. I can’t even go for good walks with them because there are so many off-leash dogs in our neighborhood. (We have a big, fenced-in backyard and very tiny dogs. They get plenty of exercise.)

Oh my goodness, I would lose my shit if a big dog attacked Lola. A pit bull puppy charged her in our old neighborhood when his owner lost control of his leash and I went into straight fight mode. I retracted Lola’s leash and helicoptered her into my arms and kneed the dog. I was super pissed to be put in the position to potentially hurt the dog, but I wasn’t about to risk my dogs safety. Activate mama powers!! Why can’t people keep their dogs on leashes or under control?!?!? They are dogs, not humans! They react to stimuli differently! So glad your pups have such a good mama to keep them safe. And apologizing for any misspellings, mobile app won’t show me any of this comment as I type, so I’m flying blind.

Um-how responsive is your local animal control? Irresponsible owners are (probably) more likely to respond to people in uniform. Likely, the owner already knows she’s risking her dog’s life, so she’ll just blow you off, but if animal control threatens to take her unattended dog…

Although, one time I called animal control on a freaked out dog loose on the median of a very busy road and they wouldn’t do anything unless the dog got hit by a car! WTF!?!?! Unfortunately, there was no place for me to park and I don’t know that me approaching the dog would have been a good idea anyway as my presence might have chased him in front of a car.

I am hesitant only because I found a little pup running around one day and took him over there so his owner would be able to find him- he had a little coat on, I was sure he was loved, and he was too jumpy to keep in the house with my nana, who is unsteady on her feet- and nobody ever came to get him and he ended up at the shelter. I called everyday to check on him, but was sick until he finally got adopted. I’m worried this lady wouldn’t care enough to pay to get him out if they did take him, and she said he was abused, so he would be difficult to get housed. Argh!! I wish I could keep all the pups people don’t want!!

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