UCB Parents Advice about Pets

Did my dog attack cats?

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July 2002

I am in great need of some information. If anyone has information on raccoons attacking domestic animals or anything close to or like the situation I am about to describe would be greatly appreciated as I have a Hearing to go to know to determine whether my dogs are vicious and if they are they will destroy my dogs. Thursday of last week my daughter had come home from her fathers around noon, she went through our front gate and forgot to put the pad lock on the gate. As a result of this unfortunate accident, our two dogs got out. They were out of our yard for about an hour. We found them about 1:30 down the street looking for a stray dog that hangs out down there. Here comes the awful part, my landlord calls me, it seems that his tenate two doors down had three cats in this small cage on there back porch. When the women came home she saw all three of her cats had been killed. It is a terrible thing when an animal dies and I felt for her but my termoile was just beginning. My landlord informed me that they were accusing my two dogs of killing there cats. So I walked over to investigate and try to shed some light on this situation. When I walked in the yard, which is enclosed by a fence and gated, so you would have to find a way to first get into the yard. I walked around to the back porch and there in the cage lay one cat the second cat lay two steps down at the bottom of the porch which was approximately two feet away from the cage and the third cat was around the back of the house about 14 -16 feet away from the second cat. All 3 cats had been in the cage previous to there deaths. So my question is how could my two dogs get into a locked yard, get opened a latched cage with 3 cats in it and kill one cat still in the cage the other two feet from the first one and the third cat 15 feet away from the second cat. The dogs had no marks on them not even a little scratch and I would think that out of the three cats at least one of them would have had a couple of seconds to run away. We live in the unincorporated part of hayward and some wildlife is part of our community. I believe as do several families which live near us that it was the work of a raccoon and not dogs. My dogs are very loving and well behaved animals. They are excellent watch dogs which a mother of 2 finds comforting. Please, anything would be better than nothing and I need to build my case. Thank You Dana


If the neighbor is sure that the cage was latched when she left, it was almost certainly raccoons and not dogs. If the cage might have been left open, you have to accept that your dogs could have been responsible --even the most loving family pet dog is still a hunting carnivore as many, many pet owners living on the urban/ag interface have discovered. Also, several dogs together will often behave much more badly (think unattended 6 year olds!)than would one dog alone, and you did mention a stray. The cat in the cage could, after all, have crawled in there to die after having been attacked outside. Call Animal Control in your neighborhood --without giving your name-- and ask how such cases are investigated. I'm sure they have someone lined up who can look at the cats and determine what kind of animal killed them. You should also call your veterinarian, and ask him/her to examine your dogs immediately and document the results of the exam in the chart. Best of luck- Chris
That is such a sad story. It sounds like the work of rabid raccoons. Raccoons are usually nocturnal animals, but when they come out during the day that can mean that they are rabid. Plus they have those clever little hands that can get cages open and if there were more than one of them they could have easily gotten three cats. But I'm no expert so you should do more research! Good luck Jill
I can't give you specific legal advice, but here's my two cents on how to defend your animals. 1) From what I understand, the neighbors' accusations are entirely based on circumstance: that your dogs happened to be loose around the time the cats were killed. Does anyone at all claim to have witnessed your animals killing the cats? If such a person has come forward, why did that person not make an effort to stop the dogs by finding you, finding the cats' owners or alerting animal control. You also mentioned a lack of physical evidence on you dogs. It seems to me that if there is no credible witness or physical evidence, your dogs' accusers have no case. 2) My understanding is that animals only get put down if they harm humans and NOT other animals. I would pursue this issue immediately, minimally to put you mind at ease. 3) Perhaps if you acknowledge the cat owners' grief in some fashion and gently encourage them to take a hard look at the apparent lack of evidence against your dogs, they may very well back off. Please let us know your dogs have fared. Best of luck to you and your pets! Dog lover
If your dogs don't have any marks on them, they did not kill your neighbor's cats. My 60-lb sighthound unfortunately flushed a cat out of some bushes while running off leash several years ago in an open space preserve, and tried to kill the cat. This breed of dog has been bred for 2000 years to hunt small furry animals, and they have not lost that instinct. I ran to the cat's aid immediately and pulled my dog off within 30 seconds, but the dog was absolutely covered with bites and severe scratches, and was bloody from his own wounds. The cat was luckily ok. Raccoons are notoriously fond of killing caged animals in suburban areas, especially rabbits and ducks, although I'm sure they'd be happy to kill cats if given the chance. If you have taken any training classes with any of your dogs, that will work in your favor at your hearing. It sounds like the neighbor is on a witch hunt, looking to blame your dogs who sound like they were at the wrong place at the wrong time. Good luck. pet lover
Do you know if there are coyotes in unincorporated Hayward? Sounds like something they might do. From what I've read, domestic cats are a favorite prey. Since raccoons are nocturnal, unless it was rabid, it seems doubtful that it was a raccoon. Joan
a couple weeks ago my boyfriend and i heard some strange screaming in the backyard at night. we ran to see what was going on and it turned out to be two large raccoons killing one small cat. it was horrifying, the cat didn't stand a chance and there was nothing we could do to help it since it was in the neighbors fenced yard, when the cat finally went limp the raccoons dragged it off into the night. Concerned Reader
Yes, I have heard of raccoons attacking domestic animals. A raccoon killed my in-laws' Siamese cat about 15 years ago. I have no idea whether they're able to open cages, but I do know that they will go after smaller domestic animals. Gwynne
I can't give you specific legal advice, but here's my two cents on how to defend your animals. 1) From what I understand, the neighbors' accusations are entirely based on circumstance: that your dogs happened to be loose around the time the cats were killed. Does anyone at all claim to have witnessed your animals killing the cats? If such a person has come forward, why did that person not make an effort to stop the dogs by finding you, finding the cats' owners or alerting animal control? You also mentioned a lack of physical evidence on you dogs. It seems to me that if there is no credible witness or physical evidence, your dogs' accusers have no case. 2) My understanding is that animals only get put down if they harm humans and NOT other animals. I would pursue this issue immediately, minimally to put you mind at ease. 3) Perhaps if you acknowledge the cat owners' grief in a kindly fashion and encourage them to take a hard look at the apparent lack of evidence against your dogs, they may very well back off. Please let us know your dogs have fared. Best of luck to you and your pets! Dog lover
Our older cat was killed one night by raccoons and dragged down the street to a neighboring yard. The worst part is that I had heard sounds that night and just assumed it was the usual raccoon fights that happen almost every other night -- had no idea our cat was involved. We felt so horrible and sad to lose our cat that way and called our vet. He said it happens a lot. We live in the Berkeley hills where there are tons of deer, skunks, foxes and of course, raccoons. We keep our other older cat in at night now, you can be sure Laura
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