It’s not the size of the dog in a fight that counts but the size of the fight in a dog.
First, let me apologise for this long narrative but I hope you will read it and be able to share your thoughts, feelings, and suggestions to help my dog, Peter and I. Thank you!
As many of you know, my family adopted Peter from the Singapore Police K-9 unit back in 2016.
Peter is known throughout the neighbourhood for his mellow nature, and his refusal to bite anyone. This refusal caused him to fail the bite test in his K-9 unit and was the reason he was used as a show dog for police shows before he was adopted by my family.
Unfortunately, Peter’s mellow, peaceable nature has led to him being attacked and bitten on several occasions by our neighbour’s Bichon Frise. For no apparent reason, this dog absolutely hates Peter. Peter has not done anything to aggravate this dog or hurt it. He just ignores it.
He also ignores another neighbour’s dog that always growls at him when out for walks. The difference between the Bichon and the Singapore Special Dog is that the Singapore Special Dog is always leashed and kept under control when outside. The three gates at their house are always securely latched. The owner and/ or helper recognise their dog is at fault and they even change direction when they see Peter along the road. They apologise for their dog’s bullying ways which are only directed at Peter. They admit their dog has singled out Peter, but they take appropriate action to avoid any conflict. And, when their dog is not around, they shower Peter with hugs.
The same cannot be said for the owner and/ or helper caring for the Bichon. On four occasions when it has attacked Peter, their side gate has been left open for it to run out on the street. When it sees Peter, it charges directly at him and bites him repeatedly. Each time, my mother or I have had to intervene, pick it up and return it home or shout out to its irresponsible owner and domestic helper, despite its aggression and growling, putting us at risk of being bitten or hurt.
Each time the owner has been informed, she issues a perfunctory apology or is very defensive. To date, she has done nothing to ensure her side gate is fully latched. She knows but ignores the fact that it is against the law for dogs to be unleashed and out of control on a public street. She considers it a joke and thinks it is highly amusing that her small dog can bully a big dog. She has even stated that her dog & Peter must have been lovers in their previous life, and which is why their small dog hates Peter now.
Let’s be clear. Peter does not hate their dog. Peter just ignores it. The Bichon is the one who keeps attacking and biting him. Even when it is within its premises and sees Peter, it goes berserk. Given that we must pass this house each and every day, it has become an absolute misery to go past their gate because of the fear that their side gate may not be fully closed or the commotion the Bichon causes with little or no intervention from its owner and / or the helper.
The situation is even worse when their current helper takes the Bichon out for a walk. She is often distracted on her phone or busy talking to her friends. On two recent separate occasions, she has let go of the leash while outside and the dog has made a beeline to charge towards Peter & I. On both occasions, I have had to intervene, pick up the dog and its leash to prevent it from biting Peter. On another occasion, my mother has had to do the same. Each time, Peter has had to suffer nasty bites.
The first few times Peter was attacked, we did not report the matter to the authorities. Although we do not know them, they are neighbours and mistakenly, we thought they would exercise more care. How naive we were!
In February 2020, Peter was bitten by this Bichon Frise on his right elbow, and this was the first time that the owner brought Peter & I to the vet. She did it because my mother was at work and had insisted that it was the least, she could do since it was her dog’s fault. Instead of conveying us to our usual vet, she took us to her vet.
Her vet did not give Peter any form of medication and only prescribed an antiseptic cream to apply on the wound. Although we tried our best to ensure that the wound was sterile, it refused to heal. It became more inflamed, red & oozing with pus. We took Peter to our regular vet. Because he was already 10 years old, Peter was placed on antibiotics for 2 weeks to see if the wound would get better. It did not and he had to undergo surgery under general anaesthetic. It was traumatic for everyone including the vet because Peter’s heart rate & blood pressure was extremely low during the three-hour long surgery. Thankfully, he survived and apart from what appears to be a permanent limp, he is back to his old self, no thanks to the Bichon and its owner. Although the owner of the bichon was informed, she refused to accept responsibility as usual or pay anything for the surgery.
In view of the seriousness of what had happened, we complained to AVS/NParks hoping that they could intervene and effectively stop the dog from being unleashed and out of control on a public road. All they did was make a home visit to the owner of the bichon before informing us that “the dog is friendly to humans, so it is not deemed as a threat to others.”
AVS/NParks also stated that since it was a dog who attacked another dog, no further action would be taken. We could not believe our ears. However, the officer from AVS/NParks did state that if the dog were to ever bite a human, the owner would be prosecuted, and have their dog taken away.
I think many of you who own bigger dogs will immediately think as I did. If the roles were reversed and Peter had attacked the Bichon Frise, I have no doubt it would have caused a media sensation and AVS/NParks would most likely have taken Peter away and have him destroyed.
On 15 July 2021, while out walking Peter, the dog was once again outside, and it charged at Peter and me. I had to shout out repeatedly to the helper before she came running to catch it, pick it up and walk away. No apology, nothing…
On 6 August 2021 3:45PM, I was walking Peter, and as usual the dog was barking at us through its gate. We ignored that dog and continued with our walk.
I was about 400 metres away from the Bichon’s house when suddenly, it appeared out of nowhere, unleashed, unattended, completely by himself and charged straight towards Peter.
He started biting Peter on his stomach, tail, penis, and neck. Peter could not retaliate even if he wanted to, since he was wearing his muzzle as required by the law. All he could do was put his paw on the Bichon to try and stop it.
I quickly grabbed the Bichon by the scruff of his neck, to stop him from hurting Peter. However, the Bichon turned around and started biting my right forearm. He did not want to let go, and he bit me at least 4 times as I was trying to shake him off.
I started screaming in pain at this point. I dropped my phone on the ground, and the screen shattered.
Hearing my screams, two male Indian gentlemen rushed out of their house to help. They
witnessed the Bichon repeatedly biting me as they struggled to and finally managed to finally pull the dog away from me.
By this time, my arm was throbbing, and I was in great pain. I was feeling extremely dizzy and nauseous from the injuries and shock of this sudden attack. All I wanted to do was to go home before I passed out.
They asked me which house the dog belonged to and held on to it until I was a safe distance away.
I managed to slowly walk Peter home and call my mother who was at work. I informed her of what had happened. She immediately called the police, who sent for an ambulance.
While I was waiting for the ambulance, the owner of the Bichon arrived and rang the doorbell.
She claimed she didn’t know that her side gate was open, which was why the dog ran out. This is the same excuse she has used on previous occasions whenever her dog has attacked my dog.
Without my permission, she took photos of the wounds on my hand and leg. I protested that she should stop but she ignored me.
She kept insisting I had injured myself by falling and that her dog did not bite me even though she was not present when the attack happened.
I told her I did not fall and that her dog had bitten me. At no point did she offer any sympathy or help. She kept insisting I had fallen and that my injuries were not dog bites.
She kept telling me that her dog had been vaccinated. She insisted that it is only a small, tiny dog and cannot do much harm to a human. This was obviously not true as the aggressive nature of an individual dog has nothing to do with its size.
When the ambulance arrived, the paramedics spoke to me before they did a visual check. They seated me inside the ambulance and took my blood pressure. In the meantime, the Bishon’s owner kept talking to the police saying her dog was harmless and would not harm a human
The paramedics then waited for the police to arrive so that I could speak to the officers before taking me to the hospital. The doctor who attended to me at Sengkang Hospital’s A&E unit confirmed my injuries were from a dog bite and wrote it down in the medical report.
On my return from the hospital, my mother immediately made a police report and sent a copy of the report of this latest attack, together with pictures and the medical report to AVS/ NParks.
Yesterday (10 August 2021) the same officer from AVS/ NParks who dealt with the previous complaint, called my mother, and asked if they could do an “experiment”.
They want Peter to be walked in front of the Bichon’s house to see how the Bichon reacts to Peter. And to see if the dog is “truly aggressive” as they claim there are different levels of aggression.
We do not know how to react. In all the previous detailed reports to AVS/ NParks, we have provided all the proof necessary to prove the dog is aggressive. We have submitted pictures of the wounds inflicted on Peter and now me. My mother has also suffered bruises in the interventions with the Bichon. The owner has never denied her dog’s attacks to AVS/NParks. We even have her WhatsApp messages to my mother as further proof if required.
I have questions about this entire incident, and I hope those who read this post can share similar experiences and offer constructive suggestions as to how to deal with this situation as my family and I are really stumped by AVS/NParks’ suggestions and current behaviour.
• Why carry out this so-called ‘experiment’ now? Why not much earlier when we first reported the attacks and provided as much proof as we possibly could? Also, what are the controls? What are the variables etc?
• Why has there been no attempt to see if Peter is ‘truly docile’ as surely there must be different levels of docility just as there are different levels of aggression?
• What is happening here? I can’t help feeling that AVS/ NParks is trying its best not to carry out its unpleasant but necessary duty to prosecute what appears to be an extremely entitled, negligent and irresponsible owner for her absolute failure on not one but six occasions to secure her dog and admit that it needs to be trained and socialised at the very least.
• Do readers of this post get the same impression as I that something is not quite right about the way this investigation has and is being carried out?
Here are my impressions and feelings about how this matter has been handled since we first reported the attacks in 2019:
• AVS/NParks seems to be doing its level best to ‘protect’ this irresponsible owner at all costs for some unknown reason.
• Is she sovereign and perhaps above the law that applies to the average Singaporean dog owner?
• Why is there any need for this so called ‘experiment’?
o There is medical evidence that I suffered dog bites, not a fall.
o The two neighbours who rushed out of their house to help me have stated they are willing to give statements regarding the incident and the aggression of the Bichon which they witnessed first-hand. Is that not sufficient for any investigation?
o We have submitted a detailed police report as well as informed AVS/NParks of the same.
• Is there an inherent bias on the part of AVS?NParks that since a Bichon is a small dog, it is impossible that it can inflict much damage onto another dog or a human?
• As I said earlier, if a German Shepherd were to attack a Bichon, I doubt AVS/NParks would arrange an “experiment” like this to see if the German Shepherd was aggressive. So why the double standards & treatment for larger / smaller dogs? The size does not matter, the level of viciousness does.
• A dog that has bitten my dog on multiple occasions, and now bitten me does not need an experiment to show how aggressive it is. The injuries it has caused are proof enough of its aggression.
Having said all this, I need to share that I do feel sorry for the Bichon. It is not its fault that it has been cursed to have an owner:
• who has refused to be a responsible pet owner.
• who has not bothered to send it for the requisite training after being informed of its aggressive nature.
• who could not be bothered to ensure the side gate was latched securely after the very first incident.
• whose helper could not be bothered to hold on to the leash while out walking the dog.
• who has refused to pay sufficient attention to the needs of this particular breed.
• who thinks it is amusing for her dog to attack a bigger dog.
• who cracks crass jokes about the two dogs being lovers in a past life rather than trying to solve the problem.
• who might well have to pay dearly for the wrongs of its owner if AVS/NParks can be relied upon to do its job professionally and without bias.
I sincerely hope that AVA/NParks rehomes this Bichon with someone who can be relied upon to be a responsible owner who is willing to do right by this dog.
Do share your thoughts in the hope that what Peter and I went through is not experienced by any of you or your beloved dogs because of entitled, ignorant and cruel pet owners and an agency that is empowered to act but, in this case, at least, seems to have preferred not to exercise its authority in any significant and constructive way.