The Chain Gang
August 22, 2008
Dog Collar Nearly Kills Nissa
October 7, 2008

I’ve been reading about the incident which occurred in a Middleton, WI area dog park where Igor a Bull Mastiff, is said to have mauled a Bedlington Terrier. Due to her injuries, Lily the terrier had to be euthanized. This is a very sad situation. I feel terrible for both dogs and both owners, what a horrible experience! What makes it even worse, is that this is a situation that could so easily have been prevented. Instead we have one dead dog and another dog’s life or death is pending a decision by humans. How ironic that humans are the very ones who allowed this to happen in the first place.

I don’t know the rules or the layout at any other dog park than my local dog park. There are two distinct areas, one for big dogs and one for little dogs. They are not only clearly marked as such, they’re also enclosed with 10 or 12 foot high chainlink fencing. You cannot access either area without first going through two different gates. Dogs can’t open these gates on their own, entry into either side is a voluntary, intentional act based on a decision made by a human. The dog park commission set this up to be safe, it’s the people who use it who make it unsafe.

We have space violators on both sides and there is not enough patrol of the area or tickets handed out when violators are found. Whenever I see a small dog enter the big dog area I shudder. We have people who bring their dogs that really believe that when their dog is displaying aggressive, dominant behavior that it’s “just playing” so they don’t even try to control their dogs.

Humans base their decisions on human thinking and reaction which has pretty much very little to do with the way dogs think or act. By no means am I a dog behaviorist expert, but I have over the past couple of years opened up my mind to a new way of thinking. I’m dedicated to learning as much as I can about how a dog’s mind works, to understand why they do some of the things they do and how a dog and their actions are affected by humans. I really wish more people would take the time to learn because it’s an eye opener to say the least. We’d have a significant drop in euthanizing dogs just because they’ve bitten.

I wasn’t there, I didn’t see what happened but reading about the incident has got my head swimming with questions and things that I believe the officials in charge of making this decision should address before ordering this dog to be put down.

Does the Middleton dog park have any boundaries set up to keep the little dogs separated from the big dogs? I was concerned about just this kind of thing happening at our dog park because we have humans taking their little dogs into the big dog area and the big dogs into the little dog area. Do they not realize these fences were put up for a reason? Do they think they and their dog are better than the others and they can bend the rules to their liking?

I called our dog park board and asked a few questions including “What’s the board’s position if a small dog is brought into the big dog area and winds up getting hurt or worse?” I was very pleased to learn that their position is that the responsiblity for the little dog being injured or killed belongs smack dab in the lap of the little dog’s owner. The woman I spoke with also told me the same is true if you take your big dog into the little dog area and your big dog injures or kills a small dog. That then is the fault of the big dog owner. This isn’t a perfect solution as each situation really should be handled individually. At least I know when I take my big dogs into the big dog area should an incident occur involving a smaller dog, my dog will not automatically be blamed just because he’s the big dog.

I wonder why Igor’s owner Gary Lohrke, allows him anywhere outside his home without the leash and muzzle he signed an agreement to use. He understood that his agreement was only with the City of Middleton and mistakenly thought this dog park was outside the city limits. Considering there have been other incidents with Igor, basic common sense precaution would be to leash and muzzle Igor anywhere outside his home. It’s just totally irresponsible of Mr. Lohrke to decide that once the dog steps over the invisble line known as the city limits, it’s ok to remove the leash and muzzle. Mr. Lohrke’s logic in this totally escapes me.

As always, there are at least two sides to every story. Lily’s owner, Shirley Fulton, believes it was an unprovoked attack. Igor’s owner says Igor was trying to play and Lily actually was the instigator nipping and jumping at Igor’s face. I tend to side with Mr. Lohrke for several reasons, just one of them being that Lily was a terrier. Terriers are generally very active little dogs, some are literally wired to the max. Most small dogs have no fear and that attitude can really get them in trouble. My own dog was involved in an altercation several months ago and was being accused of attacking the other dog who had been superficially injured. I wanted to understand the behavior that had transpired. After contacting my vet, a professional Police dog trainer, a professional dog behaviorist and a dog rescue coordinator it was explained to me that my dog did not attack the other dog. He was defending and protecting not only himself, but me from a dog who didn’t know how to meet and greet other dogs and instead lunged at us and into my dog’s face. I know for a fact this other dog has never ever been socialized with other dogs so how could he learn? Dogs have their own Meet & Greet Ritual, if one dog doesn’t follow doggie protocal, it can cause major problems.

It sounds like Lily’s owner does not understand that what Lily was doing can be construed as an attack by the dog being nipped and jumped at. Igor doesn’t know that Lily is smaller than him and Lily doesn’t know that Igor is bigger than her. Size has no bearing in the dog world, dogs don’t know what size is! They only recognize one another as dogs. Fights are not always started by the biggest and strongest person. It’s sometimes the one you’d least expect to cause a problem that throws the first punch and the melee begins.

If you are being poked in the face, are you not going to protect yourself? Even if someone starts poking at you in fun you may put up with it for a few minutes but this gets annoying real quick. You may ask the person poking you to stop several times, if they don’t you’re going to take some kind of action.

During all the activity, Lily’s owner is obviously and rightfully stressed tremendously. Here’s this 130 pound dog with her tiny dog in it’s mouth. Absolutely a frightening situation and one where Lily’s owner is going to try to save her dog. She jumps in with her cane and starts hitting Igor and probably screaming at him to drop her little dog. Her friend is slapping Igor in the face with a leash. What these people are doing is doing is human nature. What they didn’t realize is that their actions escalated the situation! The humans actually helped kill Lily.

At the very bottom of all of this is Igor, who either did actually jump into the group of little dogs to play and got provoked by Lily, or his prey drive kicked in. In the animal world “prey drive” is not vicious, it’s instinct. If these were cats and mice, would you blame the cat for attacking the mouse? No? Why? Because that’s what cats do, right? People seem to have no trouble accepting that their cat kills mice. Well, folks, dogs have a prey drive, too, and it’s stronger in some dogs than others. People don’t think of dogs in the sense of being an animal, but the bottom line is they are animals first and foremost.

This is a perfect explanation for why our dog park has two separate areas and why if your dog park doesn’t, it should. The rules need to be enforced and violators should be ticketed. Fines should be hefty in order to help prevent things like this from happening.

Most loving dog owners don’t think of their dogs as dogs in the true sense of the word. They think of them as part of the family or like a child. When little dogs bark, snarl, growl and act sassy it’s considered cute. When a big dog does the same thing, it’s considered mean and vicious. It’s not fair that the big dogs take a bad wrap and the little dogs get off scott-free just because of their size. They key is that the behavior is the same in both dogs! There is no such thing as “little dog behavior” and “big dog behavior.” Dog behavior is dog behavior. Don’t excuse the little ones and punish the big ones for displaying the same behavior.

So, now I see the board has decided that Igor should die. There was someone willing to pay to have Igor transported to DogTown where he could have been rehabilitated or lived out his life. This would have removed Igor not only from his irresponsible owner’s care but from the area and wouldn’t have cost the city of dime. This positive action would have taken care of everything including not punishing Igor for being a dog and having the misfortune to have an irresponsible owner.

Igor did not choose his life or his owner. He didn’t choose to be in the park, be provoked by another dog and to have that dog’s human escalate the situation by reacting in what is a normal human way for someone who doesn’t understand what was really going on. Humans chose this all for Igor who was just being a dog and now humans are recommending his death.

According to the newspaper article, Igor had bitten a gal by the name of Michelle. There are no details of the circumstances surrounding that bite. Maybe Igor really was trained to be vicious, I don’t know. I do know that dogs are not born vicious, that humans prey on dogs who just want to please their masters and humans make them vicious. Blame here may lie directly on Igor’s owner, but with not Igor. There is enough questionable information available for me to come to the conclusion that Igor’s owner is not responsible enough to own a dog. I haven’t seen any talk of ordering him to not own a dog.

Maggie Fulton and others who think like she does are wrong. You can stop dogs like this, there is help for them. Send Igor to DogTown. Igor does not have to die.

Additional reading:

Here is some additional reading you may be interested in. The articles are in no particular order, I add them to this list as I find them.

8 Comments

  1. Tanya says:

    Do many people a favor. Take this down. Some people have suffered enough, don’t you think?

    • Mom says:

      Thank you for your comments, Tanya. I do appreciate your feelings and I totally agree that a number of folks suffered greatly over this, I myself cried and was very upset over the whole thing which I won’t rehash at this time. However, we believe that not only is there some valuable information in the post and the responses to it, it helps to serve an educational purpose. It’s like a book, a newspaper article or television show. Those who do not wish to read it, do not have to. No one can force a person to read (or watch) something they don’t want to read and therefore, they can bypass it if they so choose. There may be others that will read it and the ensuing comments and/or make their own. We’re sorry if this upsets you, it certainly isn’t mine or this web site’s purpose to upset anyone intentionally by refusing to take down something that is disturbing. However, part of the reason this website exists is to provide information and help educate people on various topics involving dog care and ownership. We feel this incident helps make people aware that there *are* potential dangers involved in taking one’s dog to a dog park and that it’s not an automatically safe place to take one’s dog. I can’t tell you how often I come across a person who owns a dog who is quite obviously uneducated in dog ownership and unknowingly puts their dog in danger. It’s quite obvious that some folks are totally oblivious to this fact. Something as simple as allowing your dog outside without the safety of a leash, tie-out or confinement behind a fence is a hazard but people do it all the time. If reading this article can save one dog from being injured or killed during or after a dog park incident, that’s a good thing. To delete it, is to ignore this and in our opinion that would be wrong. We hope that you will come back and visit our website often, and take from it things that you like or will help you in some way and not let one article stop you from returning.

  2. Certainly not Denisse says:

    Insecure people with frightening dogs, and you are clearly one of them, go to great lengths to place blame elsewhere. You are one sick person.

  3. Denice Turner says:

    Sorry I just have to comment on ‘Informed’ untrue information.

    What kind of sick person writes about an incident they know nothing about?

    And TAKES SIDES?

    >All the witnesses to the attack were clear on what dog and OWNER was at fault.<
    <>>>>

    This is Igor’s THIRD UNPROVOKED ATTACK.

    <<<>>>>

    When he attacked the woman, and you could have done your homework on this, THE OWNER STOOD BY AND WATCHED,<<>>>>>> (without coming to her aid.)

    (((The owner is a convicted felon.)))<<<<<< This is your true reason to kill his dog isn’t it? Be honest to at least yourself, you care not about the TWO attacks you care he’s an exconvict and you want to extract more blood even though he’s obviously paid his debt and is out of prison.<<<<<< (((As came out in the Middleton city council meeting, this dog has been TRAINED TO ATTACK POLICE))).<<<Okay I need to get a bit nasty here … do you think you’ve been abducted by aliens and anally probed? You sound like one of those type of people. The dog has not been trained to attack police or they would be attacked silly. Bullmastiffs and I know I have one, and a German Shepard, are extremely loving gentle dogs UNLESS they think their friend ( you may call her/him owner/master whatever) or themselves are in danger then they will react as would you I might add. My Mastiff Maxx would most likely hurt anyone that looked like they would hurt me, but my German Shepard has little tolerance for animals and nips them…she doesn’t like them as she was attacked by a Pitbull when she was a puppy. You see things happen. I didn’t scream to kill the Pitbull. I will say it wasn’t even the dogs fault someone let it loose-didn’t want it anymore and it was crazed. Animals do not understand being PC. They never will nor should they

    (((This dog just doesn’t bite, HE MAULS. Without provocation.)))<<< Lies. Prove it. The animal was provoked..heck for the terrior I’m provoked by the barky nasty things sometimes<<< The woman isn’t clear why she was were she was and if she was someplace that she should not have been. There is allusion to a thrid but no actual case just the ‘police’ saying there was an incident…I find this doesn’t count so we have two cases. Mauled? The woman had teeth MARKS … no stitches, no getting in an ambulance, NADA nothing…marks do not break the skin they are what they say they are MARKS. Mauled???? Puleeeze. Had Igor wanted to I’m sure he could have mauled the woman even killed her, I see great restraint in Igor just sort of backing her off. Is she a nosey neighbor peeping around where she shouldn’t have been?

    It is regretable the little more aggresive dog (I know breeds and terriors are by far and away more overtly aggressive than Bullmastiffs) was killed. I feel terrible for it’s owners but why didn’t they train their dog to be more docile, relationally train it with other dogs? To not be a barking snarling yipping dog? Did they think it was just peachy for their dog but then when another dog took it seriously OH NO now let’s kill that Bullmastiff!

    I say the terrior owners need to look inward at their lack of relational training they gave their dog Lilly as well.

    (((Your irresponsibility in seeking to understand the facts is pathetic.))) Vice Versa, and what is more pathetic is you name call and do the exact same thing which is hyporocicy. You way overstate things which mean you lie, your only seriously true statement is the fact the owner is an ex felon …. THAT is why you want to murder his dog … now be honest your odd community is wanting yet another pound of flesh.

    How sickening the lot of you are.

    Denice Turner

  4. Denice Turner says:

    To Informed. Huh. you MORE than stated why you want to kill this poor dog…and I quote ‘the owner is a convicted felon’. That is your weird little communities entire reason isn’t it? Well let me share my thoughts on your…’community’ which is a strong word for what I’ve read about Middleton. This went to at minimum the local editor and at maximun oodles of other choice people/organizations. You know ‘Informed’ were it me? I’d sue your pants off take your home your earnings and everything else you have accrued to date for such ungodly harrasment. Your names are all in the log of the Council Meeting minutes I’ve read them. No where did it say maul…you lied.

    Dear Ms. Editor,

    Upon reading this story and it’s subsequent follow up I am sickened that a group of people would rally for the death of a dog!! Only in Wisconsin, home of the cannibal serial killers could this happen.

    You may have heard of Michael Vick, the infamous ex-quarterback? Mr. Vick had ‘trainers’ for his dogs to kill. For a long long while those dogs were trained, fought and killed. You may be interested to know that National Geographic just did a special on those ‘killer’ dogs and they have been rehabilitated. They were not killed. They were retrained.

    However a nano minded community, that reads like the Dahmer/Gein familys’ gone wild, cry for the death of this beautiful canine. Wow. They scare me not the dog. It can be retrained. Those type of people, however, are far to old to obtain any kind of heart, mercy, love, kindness or sensitivity. Vicious haters don’t change.

    Mr. Lohrke can take his own medication and the dog can live out it’s life. Mr. Lohrke stated he sometimes ‘forgot’ to take his medication. I dare anyone in that room or reading this to honestly say they’ve never forgotten an important ‘something’. This doesn’t excuse it, rather explains it to my way of thinking.

    Regardless, this ‘community’ sickens me with their bloodthirsty cry’s for death. They really should be very careful what they wish for as the next dog, cat, bird, person may be their own. A place like Middleton reads like a place Stephen King could whip up some tasty novels.

    Suffice to say I am CON the death of Igor. This should make the wires, PETA should get involved as well as several other animal rights organizations that would sue the life out of that court and those dreadful people. First for attempting to kill the dog secondly for duress on the dog and the dog’s owner due to these death threats.

    Regards,

    Denice Turner
    Member ASPCA/PETA

  5. Mom says:

    You are entitled to your opinion. Mine stands as given and yes, I do side with Igor and I’m not ashamed of that nor do I feel irresponsible for my thoughts and feelings. Maybe you have mis-understood or mis-read my comments.

    The way I look at it, you have re-iterated my point that PEOPLE are at fault. If you had truly comprehended my comments, I think you might have more of an understanding of my mindset. PEOPLE created this situation and the dogs are being made to pay. Lilly died because of people being at fault, both directly and indirectly. Igor’s life is threatened directly because of people. That’s the bottom line.

    “Trained” is something that PEOPLE do with/to dogs. Dogs don’t train themselves. In some instances, things that bad, unbalanced, sick people train dogs to do goes against dog instinct, normal dog behavior and the safety of the community. Pitbulls are not born vicious, PEOPLE train them to be vicious. When they’re born they’re just as innocent and sweet as a newborn human baby or a French Poodle puppy. If I were to blindfold you and hand you two puppies, you’d never know one of them was a Pitbull and the other a Labrador because they are both squiggly, friendly puppies. I’m sure Igor was no different in that respect when he was a puppy. In general, dogs are usually very people oriented, friendly animals until PEOPLE train them to be otherwise.

    People have domesticated dogs to live with us, within OUR rules and boundaries. We don’t live in their world, many people don’t even try to understand them. We just expect dogs to live in our world. That’s part of the unfortunate side of being a domesticated dog living in a human world. We expect dogs to live within our boundaries but the majority of people do not try to understand dog BEHAVIOR, yet dogs are expected to understand us. A good majority of people don’t realize that there is a great difference between dog behavior and what people train into dogs. Dogs live in our society under people-oriented expectations. When they don’t live up to our expectations, we take it out on them. That’s just plain wrong.

    If you have an expectation of a person and they don’t live up to that expectation, who’s fault is it? It’s yours because one person does not have the right to require any other person to live up to our expectations. It’s not right or fair to place expectations on another. If we do, we are setting OURSELVES up for disappointment. Why then do we place human expectations on dogs that don’t even speak the human language, are not part of human make-up and expect them to live up to those expectations? Even our own parents do not have the right to expect that we live the life THEY want for us. As adults we have the right to live our lives as we wish. If we disappoint our parents, it’s our parent’s fault for expecting us to live in their world. In our throw-away society, it’s easier to just get rid of something that doesn’t live up to our expectations.

    Someone trained Igor to act the way he does. Igor did not sign up for training school, and pay the bill and read a book to be trained to attack people. Some PERSON did this. Igor, being a dog, was doing what his owner told him to do when he was trained. That’s one of the expectations that humans put on dogs. Igor had no clue that what was being taught to him was wrong or that it could hurt people or other animals. He followed HIS leader, that’s it and for that he’s being condemned to die? Mr. Lohrke should be held severely accountable, not Igor. Some communities hold the parents accountable when their children misbehave, why is it any different for dogs?

    Just like he was trained to attack, he can be RE-trained NOT to if given the opportunity and the proper re-instruction. Someone offered to pay his way to DogTown where this can more than likely be accomplished. Igor would be removed from the community where it has wreaked havoc (thanks to HUMAN training) but not made to pay for what people did to him by dying at their hands. If he was so bad off that DogTown could not rehabilitate him, he could remain at DogTown ALIVE and live out his life, safe for him and for any community.

    Lilly’s owner reacted as most any HUMAN would trying to save her beloved dog. The fact remains that how she and her friend reacted DID escalate the situation no matter how it started. People excitement of any kind, even if it’s inside and not noticeable to other humans, IS sensed by a dog and excites a dog in any situation thus the situation escalates. They reacted the way they did because they are human which is natural and normal in their quest to save Lilly. They didn’t know any other way TO react. I’m not blaming Lilly’s owner or her friend, I’m just saying that they contributed to the escalation because they reacted they way they did, as humans. But there ARE other ways, ways that would de-escalate this kind of situation, such as Mr. Lohrke stepping in and removing his dog or calling him off. Lilly would probably still have been injured, maybe severely, but she may have lived.

    No, I wasn’t there but that has little if no bearing on the bottom line. What it seems you apparently aren’t understanding was that Igor was doing what he was taught to do BY HUMANS and/OR behaving as a dog behaves instinctually IF provoked by another. Being dogs is not always civilized by human definition. Many times dog behavior is purely and simply instinct and that’s a big issue that a huge part of the human population doesn’t understand. Provocation to a dog can be very different than human to human provocation. If someone gets in your face, even if it’s in fun and you don’t like their brand of fun, you are going to do something to make it stop. You are going to react when you’ve had enough, you are going to defend yourself if you feel threatened. You may walk away, you may throw a punch. This may very well depend on how YOU were raised by your own parents, how YOU were trained. One way is civilized, the other is not. Did you know that one dog looking another dog directly in the eyes can cause an immediate dog fight? People looking at one another in the eyes, doesn’t normally provoke a fight, but it sure can in dogs!

    I did say that Igor never should have been un-leashed and un-muzzled. His owner (a PERSON!) is at fault for letting him loose PERIOD. His OWNER (a PERSON!) not only allowed this to happen but made the conscious decision to go to the park and remove Igor’s “protection gear” against all rules of common sense. Igor did not do that on his own.

    Igor is being blamed and condemned for something PEOPLE did to him. He should not have to pay the high price of death for it. Making the community safe from dogs like Igor does not have to mean killing them. It can instead mean removing them to a place where they can be helped. They didn’t get mean and vicious on their own, they had help from humans. Humans who truly understand dogs can change this.

    One poor little dog is already dead. Unfortunately, that cannot be changed. We cannot bring Lilly back and I do feel very badly about that. I can say without question that I understand Lilly’s family’s pain because one of our little terriers was once attacked by a prey driven German Shepherd. It’s absolutely heartbreaking and one of the scariest things I’ve ever witnessed. She was severely injured, almost died, but lived because my husband knew how to “break this up” without escalating the situation. At that time, had it just been me there not knowing how to handle this properly, our little dog would have died no different than Lilly did. Lilly’s was a senseless death that could have been prevented.

    Having had terriers ourselves for many, many years, we know that they can be big instigators and that they are in most instances, fearless. I had one once that took on a huge Rottweiler and chased the Rottie down the street. To see this would have made a great “Funniest Home Video” to a human. To dogs it was instinct and nothing funny about it. It does say loudly that the size of the other dog is not something a dog thinks about. If Lilly got in Igor’s face (which is typical instinctual terrier behavior), Igor is going to react because he is feeling threatened and he’s going to defend. It’s also very possible that Igor’s instinctual prey drive kicked in. A little dog is no different than a rabbit or a squirrel to a dog who has a high prey drive. It doesn’t even have to be a big dog. That’s instinct and part of dog behavior and has nothing to do with training.

    As humans, we don’t understand this unless we understand dog behavior, and so most people don’t like it but only because they don’t understand it. It’s uncivilized to us. If we understand it from the dog’s point of view, it actually does make sense. Dogs are domesticated, which is not the same as being civilized. They will most always revert to instinct when cornered or feel threatened. Unfortunately for both dogs, Igor was trained (by people) to over-react which on top of instinct, and no intervention from his owner, was deadly for Lilly.

    You said that Igor’s owner stood by and watched and didn’t try to help the victims in the attack(s). You have just made my point for me again. Igor’s owner had the capability to intervene in ALL instances, give Igor a command to stop or whatever it is that Igor is humanly TRAINED to respond to in order to stop attack behavior. Igor doesn’t know any better, he was doing what he was taught to do. His OWNER should. His OWNER should be made to pay the price for this, not Igor.

  6. Unlike you, informed says:

    What kind of sick person writes about an incident they know nothing about? And TAKES SIDES? All the witnesses to the attack were clear on what dog and OWNER was at fault.

    This is Igor’s THIRD UNPROVOKED ATTACK. When he attacked the woman, and you could have done your homework on this, THE OWNER STOOD BY AND WATCHED, without coming to her aid.

    The owner is a convicted felon. As came out in the Middleton city council meeting, this dog has been TRAINED TO ATTACK POLICE.

    This dog just doesn’t bite, HE MAULS. Without provocation.

    Your irresponsibility in seeking to understand the facts is pathetic.

  7. Sam says:

    It’s about time someone started looking at the underlying causes when stuff like this happens. It’s just not right to automatically put a dog down in situations like this. You have to look at every single angle – especially where the DOG is coming from!

    I’m of the opinion that no dog bites without a reason. Their minds work differently than human minds and they perceive things differently than people do many times.

    Not enough people look at the dog’s behavior surrounding a bite and most people think “I didn’t do anything and he bit me!” Yeah, that’s because they don’t know or won’t admit they DID do something. They just don’t realize it because many behaviors dogs display are subtle and people don’t know there are things you’d never suspect that can affect a dog’s behavior. Unless you know what to look for, you won’t see it.

    Sam

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