This Best of Bogue column originally was published Dec. 29, 1998.
Dear Gary: Recently, my frail, elderly dog was attacked by a large, powerful dog while we were out walking a few blocks from home. The other dog came around a corner unexpectedly and lunged without warning or provocation. I could not see it coming, so there was no time for me to pick my dog up out of harm's way.
My dog required emergency surgery to repair his shoulder and throat. His chances for recovery are good but not certain. The other dog was uninjured.
The other dog's owner has expressed remorse, paid the veterinary bill, and called daily to check on my dog. The owner was not the person walking the other dog; a friend was walking it because the owner was sick.
My dog was on a 4½-foot lead. The other dog was on a 20-foot lead because the friend had chosen the wrong lead.
My friends and neighbors think I should report the other dog to animal control. Do you think I should? Do you know what they would do with the information?
DEAR ANONYMOUS: Before we discuss this, let me say that all dog bites should be reported, be they dog vs. human or dog vs. another animal. With that said, let's talk about this.
Sadly, most of my mail on this subject has to do with dog attacks where the owner denies it ever happened or refuses to accept responsibility and pay for the damages. It's really nice to hear about a dog owner who appears to be doing all the right things.
What would Animal Control do if you reported it? If it's an isolated incident, they'd probably just take a report on the incident and not do anything except maybe look at the dog's vaccination history to make sure it has had all the proper shots.
If the dog has a record of other attacks then they might take some sort of action to try to bring these attacks to an end.
There is no legal requirement for you to file a report. But what if this isn't the first time that dog has injured another dog? Your report could alert authorities to a problem animal. Not reporting it could conceivably let it get away with another attack.
If this is the first time, having the information on file about the attack on your dog would be helpful if it happens again.
Forget friends, neighbors and me. And don't feel beholden just because the vet bill is being paid. Take the action you think is appropriate.
DEAR GARY: How many dogs does it take to change a light bulb? Here's the response from different breeds.
DEAR DEE: My practical cat, Tut, asks why change it? He can see fine without a light bulb.
Gary Bogue has retired after 42 years of writing this column. If you have animal-related questions, contact Joan Morris at email@example.com; or P.O. Box 8099, Walnut Creek, CA 94596.