URGENT!!!! NEED ADVICE QUICKLY!!! Niko bit my step-son on accident tonight!

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michelle bacon's picture
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Tonight when my hubby and I were putting the kids to bed, they gave out hugs to me and Dad. My step-son, Angus, the reached down, grabbed a sleeping Niko by the neck to hug him too.  Needless to say the worst thing that could happen did.  Niko bit at him, Angus has 2 spots that are broken open.  One on the corner of his lip and the other on his cheek.  Luckily neither appear to need stitches.  Niko stopped immediately after he realized what he'd done (at least that was my take on it looking back).  Angus was more concerned about getting stitches, and doesn't blame Niko.  He even went and petted him after I doctored him, cuz Niko was trying to find out if he was okay.  Niko always knows when something is wrong with us.  And I really believe that he knew what he'd done and was sorry.

Niko has NEVER EVER EVER been aggressive at all to anyone in our family.  Even 99.9% of people he meets he loves.  There has only been 2 occassions where he placed himself between me and someone else and growled.  Once was on a walk and the guy just kinda walked up into my space and freaked me out cuz I didn't know him and Niko had already gotten in front of me, but as the guy got closer Niko growled and hackled up.  The 2nd time, a guy I know (kind of) came up to my car window at the gas station at night and startled me.  I didn't see him coming and again Niko growled and tried to get into my lap to get in between us.  Boss was with us that time and he joined in on the "GET AWAY FROM MY MOMMY" growl fest.

But, he has never been aggressive with us.  Not with food, toys, his blankie, anything.  We worked very hard with him to keep him from being aggressive.  We all played hard today, lots of tug, running, catch, and chasing of the laser light.  So Niko was a very tired puppy.  I really think that he was just startled by Angus.  

We have REPEATEDLY told Angus to NOT get into the dogs' faces when they are sleeping, regardless of how sweet a dog is normally, when they are asleep they are vulnerable and my respond out of fear from getting pulled and having a face in theirs.  I usually catch him before he reaches to hug the dogs when they're asleep.  Tonight I didn't.

Josh called his ex-wife and told her.  She wasn't angry, said for us to use our best judgement, but I'm scared to death that she's going to contact Animal Control and have Niko put down.  She can be very vindictive and mean.  We live in Illinois, and I'm not familiar with the laws here.  Does anyone know?

And am I wrong in thinking that Niko didn't mean it?  Please, any advice or insight would help.

Thanks,

A very scared Mommy

dsh210's picture
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Joined: 2011-12-26

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This sounds like quite the terrifying experience. I am sure you have done some research online already, but we used to live in Chicago and these are the two pages I had bookmarked from when we lived there:

http://www.accidentlawillinois.com/faqs/what-are-the-dog-bite-laws-in-illinois.cfm

http://dogbitelaw.com/statutory-strict-liability-state/illinois-dog-bite...

It seemed to me that Illinois is very strict about the owner of the dog paying damages, but not about the dog being required to be put down. I know that the dog may be detained in order to check for rabies, but upon being cleared by a vet or presented with rabies vaccination documents, the dog can be released back to the owner.

It sounds like an accident and with no history I would imagine you could make a strong case that no harm was intended. If things seem to be going the way of a lawsuit or someone demanding the dog be put down, I would strongly suggest getting a lawyer. As far as I could tell, Animal Control cannot just show up at your door one day demanding your dog.

-Admiral's Dad

WNCDobes's picture
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I believe any dog woken from sleep like that could certainly be expected to misread the situation and defend itself.  That Niko stopped when he realized what was going on seems to indicate that it was a mistake (on both their parts!).  The exact same thing happened to my son when he was about 5 - he lost all "dog sense" for about 6 months and got bitten twice, by two different dogs (a Doberman, mine, and a Chow, my neighbors), both incidents my son's fault.  The one with the Doberman was because he ran up to a sleeping Rainy and hugged him, waking him up. Nothing happened to either dog, even though AC was contacted in the Chow incident because Brendan had to go to the Dr.  BUT, this was North Carolina in 1987.  I am not at all familiar with Illinois law in 2013, but I agree that if you hear anything more from her, a lawyer would be a good idea.

Otherwise, Niko sounds like a good boy with appropriate protective instincts to me!  Dobermans have the most uncanny ability to "read" strange people or tune into their owner's feelings about folks. 

I hope it all blows over.  Be sure to keep the cuts on Angus' face clean so they don't get infected - it would certainly be better if he didn't have to go to the Doctor.

Wolfgirl_121's picture
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I suggest keeping the punctures clean. Hopefully your kid will learn from this, I know I did when i ran up on a blind dog when i was 4. I agree with what wncdobes and dsh210 have already said... 

michelle bacon's picture
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Thanks everyone.  I'm consiberably calmer today, Angus's Mom just came by and looked at him. She isn't upset with Niko or us.

Apparently, when Angus went down to hug Niko he went over Niko's head, wrapped his arms around his head and neck and put his face next to Niko's.  I couldn't see what happened, to be honest I wasn't looking, I was hugging my other boy.

I am keeping the wounds clean, peroxide, neosporin, and antibacterial bandaids.  Angus told me I was just like a doctor, but nicer.  Because I was washing my hands and using sterile clothes to clean him up with!  LOL, Angus is back to his normal self today.

Angus's Mom did say that she was really surprised that it was Niko. She said that Niko seems more worried about if Angus is okay than anything else.  Niko has been up the boy's butt since the incident. Laying his head in his lap and following him everywhere.  Which is weird, because Niko is ALWAYS next to me.  So, I really think that he realizes that he hurt Angus and feels bad for hurting his boy.  Maybe I'm giving him to much credit, but I don't think so.

Am I supposed to report this incident?  His Mom said not to, because she said they would hold Niko for 10 days in solitary and she was afraid it would devastate Niko and hurt him to be treated that way.  But, I want to do the right thing.

Lady Kate's picture
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Ahh damn! I hate this for you. Let's hope the ex is sympathetic to the situation and won't be vindictive. I"m sure Niko is aware of what happened.. Poor guy, he probably feels worse than anyone else.

But be aware that peroxide is not really the best solution for wounds. It tends to damage the new tissue trying to rebuild.

Are they puncture wounds or cuts? Punctures are harder to heal and need to drain. I think they'll be fine as what you're doing is great ( aside from the peroxide) just cleanse them with sterile water and by all means keep the sanitizing going for a while.

Let us know.. You're in our thoughts and prayers.

michelle bacon's picture
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Thanks LadyKate, I didn't think about that with the peroxide.  He has a puncture on his cheek.  It looks like when Niko turned his head he scraped Angus's face and his canine punctured it.  It's very small, less than a 1/4 inch long.  Looks kinda like a little teardrop.  

I have some sanitizing solution that I can use to clean it instead from now on.  Thanks for the info!

I think you are right that Niko feels worse about that anyone else.  He was a very subdued pup last night.  And he has the most expressive face, it was like he kept looking at me like, "Momma, I didn't mean to, is he okay?  Are you mad?"  I laid in the floor with him for a long time last night to help him feel better after I got Angus taken care of and in bed.

Happydance's picture
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Oh what a terrible accident, but it happens with kids and dogs all the time.  If your pup has had his rabies vaccination, I wouldn't report it.

michelle bacon's picture
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He is up to date on all his vaccinations.  Not due for anything until mid-April.  Thanks again for the input!

Lady Kate's picture
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Michele.. Wendy is right about not reporting this incident.. Best to keep it all in the family.

Will keep checking this thread for updates on Angus.. and give Niko a hug from us.. It's one of those things and a lesson learned ( albeit painful and scary) for your boy and I so sorry it happened.

I don't put my face near Sofia when she's asleep. She's not at all aggressive ( a lot like your Niko) but it's instinctive for them to react like that.

Even when she's sleeping and has one of her nightmares ( unfortunately a little too often to suit me.. and it seems to be a rescue trait) I will gently call her name and stroke her back leg not her head.

A little off topic, I know, but we cannot forget that these wonderful dogs we call our family are instinctive animals and we cannot be surprised when they revert to form.

Be well.. and try, if you can to get back to normal.

Echo's Dad's picture
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Sorry to hear of the incident.  Concur with all above and do not report it.  If you do report it, it will also be reported to your home owner's association, home owners insurance company, etc., etc.,  Then you not only have to deal with ignorant people, your insurance rates will aslo go through the roof for increased liability concerns. 

Actually, you might want to delete this post.  It can be used against you and your fur baby.

talisin's picture
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Joined: 2011-02-25

I would not report this as everyone is fine and seems to be handling it well, it didn't require doctor visit etc. and yes Niko did this because he was totally startled out of a deep sleep and anyone including a human would have reacted negatively to waking up and finding someone with their arms around their neck and a face next to theirs - totally natural reaction.....it was not an aggressive attack, it was a defensive mechanism. I would suppose from now on Angus will not be bothering the dogs while they sleep - lesson learned the hard way......I think I would document the situation for my records just in case the other woman gets vindictive later - take pics of the bite marks and the two of them playing to show they are fine together.....never hurts to be protected ahead of time.....and make sure the camera dates the pic while snapping the pic....

michelle bacon's picture
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Thanks Tal!  I actually have pics of the wounds and 3 or 4 videos of them playing the day the incident happened.  Angus's Mom said that when their pitbull, Mossie, went to give Angus a kiss on his face (she likes to get up close and personal!) he pushed her away.  I told her that it would tak a little while for Angus to be 100% back to normal.  He's fine as long as the dogs don't get in his face, he played with both Boss and Niko the next day, so I think it will all be okay.

Joined: 2013-03-03

ALL pets are wild animals! We try to train them and by our own mistakes trust them. I love my two Dobies and would trust them implicitly with anyone but and I dont mean this in a negative manner there's a saying "Let sleeping dogs lye" ,this is very true as any animal startled from sleep will defend itself, its instinctive even in us! Its not your dogs fault or yours its just one of those lessons that need to be learned unfortunatlely. Hope the little one is well on the mend.