I’m Nervous

The title says it all: I’m nervous. The problem, you’re wondering? My family bought a house last year. It’s in a nice little suburb of a small, well known town. The kind of place where you’ve got a big sem-private backyard and all of the neighborhood kids walk around on the streets unattended but pretty well-behaved until dark every day. Deer and other wildlife are so rampant in our yard that one sometimes has to drive around them in the road because their nonchalant walk is slower than your car.

One threat has bothered me since we moved in: my neighbor’s pool. While there are laws here regulating the safety of pools (including lockable gates and pool alarms), somehow, they’ve managed to slip under the radar. Instead of having any safety device at all, they have a 4′ blow up pool that’s quite accessible by anyone since you could climb in using the raised bed rails next to the pool, or, by golly, you could just climb up the ladder that’s always left in it. Not even a pool cover. So I’m nervous. I’m nervous about the neighbor kids who swim unattended in this pool (one of which is a boy about 10-years-old and has no arms…so hopefully he will always come with a big sibling who can help him). I’m nervous about my almost-two-year-old daughter who loves to swim, loves to test boundaries, and is very clever when it comes to opening doors and such.

I keep telling myself that somehow, we won’t be that family that accidents happen to. Easy for me to believe when I rescue those families for a living. Right! Actually, my experience and knowledge makes it harder for me. I care a whole lot.

Now there’s a whole new problem revealed on the block. And it just so happens to reside at the home of my next-door-neighbors on the other side of us! What, you ask? A pit bull dog that just killed the neighbor’s dog across the road the other day. Apparently, there was no growl or warning. Just an instant kill. 9-1-1 was called during the horrific ordeal, but the officer said he couldn’t even write a report because it was on the property of the pit bull owner and it was the other dog (a poodle) that approached the pit bull (not maliciously, mind you). I knew that this dog was a problem, just by the way the neighbor handles him and little things she’s said to us nonchalantly about keeping our daughter (who loves, loves, loves dogs) away from him.

My mama-bear instinct wants to march next door and demand to know why on earth they insist on keeping such a wretched dog whom they didn’t even raise themselves. What if it had been a child who approached the dog? Does the neighbor realize that if he wants to take off on her, she won’t be able to hold that leash? He’s a big dog!


So I’m nervous, but I don’t really know what to do. It wouldn’t be good to make enemies with the neighbors about these issues, but I don’t know how to tactfully say “hey, could you invest in a fence for your pool?” or “hey, could you shoot  put your dog down or sent him to a remote island, please?”. It’d be great if we could fence in our yard, but that’s out of our price range for now. I grew up playing outside, and I want my kids to have that opportunity as well. But with a little person, a killer dog, an unattended pool…I’m nervous she’s going to get outside on her own and it’ll be too late by the time I get there!


7 thoughts on “I’m Nervous

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  1. I feel ya! We are having dilemmas with our neighbors too. Not quite so intense, but one mommy can't seem to keep her kiddie pool emptied out and tilted up against the house so even her 1-2 feet of water isnt' a hazard. I have a good friend who lost her 2 year old daughter to a drowning accident in an non-child-proofed pool a little over a year ago. Alex is still to young to go out alone but I worry alot about all the neighborhood kids that run aroud unsupervised. We call the landlords and tell them what's going on and all they say is “write us a letter with the date and time blah blah blah.” Plus, it sucks cause you don't want to make enemies of your neighbors cause then you can't be sure if they would retaliate or not. I think you should call the sherriff's dept. about the pool annonymously. The dog…not sure how to handle that. I hope somehow they get it taken away without any more harm to animals or people.


  2. Seriously, I was with you on both issues until you said “but I don't know how to tactfully say “hey, could you shoot your dog, please?”.” There's no tactful way to say it because it's a HORRIBLE thing to suggest. You don't trust the dog, I can understand that. But what you're suggesting is SO inhumane it's not even funny.


  3. Well, considering that dog-to-dog aggression is completely unrelated to dog-to-human aggression, I wouldn't be worried about the dog randomly attacking a child unless it has displayed warning signs in the past.

    Now, should you let your child play unattended with any dog of any breed? Of course not. But there's no reason to fear this dog more than any other simply because of its breed. Please educate yourself.


  4. @my2littleattwoods: I didn't realize that the family of that little girl are friends of yours. :-\ I wasn't on that call, but many people I know were and everyone still uses it as an example of the horror that can fall upon a family when pools aren't properly secured. 😦 My hearts so goes out to that family. I cannot imagine the pain that they still go through every day, nor the owners of the pool. Too often, people don't realize how big of a deal something can become until it happens to them–case in point your neighbor with the kiddie pool! I realize it's easy for us to say that “we all grew up and were fine without these safety things,” but I say “one child is too many.” It's not a big deal to make little things safe.

    @Pittie Friend: you know, as soon as I wrote the word “shoot,” a little thing in my head said “hey, someone's going to read that as a malicious thing to do!” but I didn't change it. I can see now that it was definitely read by some as heartless and inhumane, so I changed the wording to hopefully portray myself more accurately. 🙂 On the other hand, though, growing up in the country, that's what a lot of us have to do. It's to us, the most humane way to end the life of a beloved pet sometimes. I can still remember us saying goodbye to a cat or dog we loved and then my dad taking the animal away and coming back with tears in his eyes. It was definitely always one shot and always instant so that the animal wouldn't suffer and would be comfortable with family as he passed on. :-\ BUT that's neither here nor there and I am absolutely not here to argue about such a thing. 🙂 Thanks for pointing out that my suggestion was harsh!

    @Coleen: I do realize that a dog's breed doesn't determine if it's a “nice” dog or not and I don't think I alluded to that in my writing? In fact, my husband would love a Rottweiler more than any other dog, and they have a reputation for being “mean” dogs. I don't fear this dog for his breed so much as his behavior (although I absolutely consider the breed of a dog since it is related to aggression–genetics and environment TOGETHER determine behavior!). The fact that the owner has subtly warned us to keep our daughter away tells me that he is not only aggressive towards other animals. If the owner is worried, then I think I ought to be worried as well. 🙂 Thanks for your comment!


  5. I, too would be nervous about both these situations. The pool situation: Call the sheriff, tell them the people's address, the specifics of the situation, and hope they take it from there. The neighbor doesn't have to know it's you in case you're concerned. Just tell the sheriff that you're a concerned neighbor.
    As for the dog: I'm another insensitive mama bear: he needs to be put down. If he's attacking and instantly killing smaller dogs completely unprovoked and the owner has warned you to keep LoveBug away from him, that means he's dangerous, and they know it. Dogs are beautiful, amazing animals, and I truly believe that while some have the propensity for violence, any breed can be raised properly to be good dogs. That animal sounds like he was failed by his owner early in life, and did not have the proper raising. Very sad situation. Again, I'd call the sheriff, perhaps the one who attended the scene of the dog attack, and tell them about how the neighbor had warned you to keep your children away from the dog. She (the owner) has clearly indicated that the dog is not only dangerous to animals, but small children. That is a game-changer that the sheriff/animal control MUST address, regardless of who came onto whom's property.
    *hugs* I don't envy you in either situation.


  6. I asked around both some sherrif friends and animal control, as well as code. This just stands for the county I live in, but they said it would be applicable everywhere.

    1) As far as code is concerned, if it's an above ground pool and is old enough, all that is required is a removeable ladder. That ladder is supposed to be removed and if it isn't and something happens, the owner is liable, but that's about it. If the ladder isn't removeable(like if there was a deck leading out to the pool) it should have a locked gate or another lock. What they suggested you do is contact your town hall and ask for the code enforcement officer, and file a complaint on it. Whether they actually come out and do anything is up to code enforcement, but you will at least have it on record that you complained and had a concern.

    2) As far as the dog goes, the police were right. If it's on the dog owner's property and the dog was approached by the other dog, regardless of size and breed, it is considered the other dog owner's fault(for not having it on a leash or otherwise contained). If the owner comes right out and says, “We've had problems with this dog and small children,” then you can go to the sherriff with that, but it needs to be a clear and obvious statement(no insinuations) and even then, my cop buddies said probably nothing will happen. Like it or not, the law is on the dog owner's side, and it is considered the responsibility of other dog owners and parents to keep their dogs/children away from a menacing dog. The best you can do is explain your concern to the neighbor and keep your children away, as well as make your concern known to the authorities.

    So neither of these solutions are things I would, personally, be comfortable with. I have been on two pediatric drownings, both in neighbors' unchildproofed pools, and both those little faces are seared into my memory. Last month I took care of an 8-year-old who was mauled by his neighbor's pit bull, a dog that had been aggressive to other animals(but never humans) in the past and that the child's parents had complained multiple times about(as far as inhumane goes, that dog was shot on the spot by the police). So maybe I'm paranoid, but I've seen it.

    What would we do? Move or put a fence up, but we can sell our house without taking a loss and putting a fence up is within our budget. It doesn't sound like code or the law is interested until something happens.
    So I don't know what the answers are for you, other than to file complaints and lock your doors.


  7. I always tell people to keep their kids away from my dogs (3 rottweilers), unless I know the kid and parents, and the kids are dog savvy, and behave appropriately. I don't let neighborhood young kids or strangers' kids near my dogs. It's not worth it to me. The dogs could knock them over, scare them, scratch them, all on accident and then I'm dealing with a panicked parent. No thanks, and I especially tell my neighbors kids to stay away if I'm playing with my dogs in the yard, it's my yard they shouldn't be in it anyways.

    I'm not sure what worries you? Is the dog loose? left unattended in the yard? Usually dog-dog aggression is different from dog-human aggression as others pointed out. So just intimating that your kid should stay away might actually be responsible dog ownership.

    I have one dog who I don't let near any kids, because she could bite, she's never been aggressive, but she's VERY interested in loud running kids and has snapped at adults before, so my theory is better safe than sorry. I tell all kids to stay away, even family and friends. Should she be taken and euthanized because I am responsible enough to tell people to stay away from her?

    I guess I don't follow the logic.


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