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neighbor dispute involving canine chicken consumption

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by RustyShackleford, Mar 26, 2013.

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  1. RustyShackleford

    RustyShackleford Minister of Fire

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    Folks, I've recently become embroiled in a rather unpleasant dispute with a neighbor in my rural subdivision, and I seek advice on what to do - and, for that matter, what to think.

    My girlfriend's terrier regularly stays at my house on weekends and maybe a weekday night, but a week ago I kept him for an entire week while she travelled. It is not uncommon for folks to let dogs run free here, so although I normally kept him inside when leaving the house, the other night I could not find him, so I left him outside without much worry. That evening I got an email from the woman of the couple living near me, stating that he had killed four chickens; I responded that I was sorry and would talk to them soon. The next day, while GF was flying home, I contacted her and told her that she needed to contact the neighbor - they are acquainted - and it sounds like she left messages but did not get through.

    That day the dog seemed to feel bad - too much chicken consumption I guess - and just lay around the house, so I didn't go to much extra effort to keep him confined. I also assumed the neighbors would be at home and working around their house, it being a lovely Saturday. I was working around the house too, inside. Next thing I know, around 9-10pm, I hear a noise outside and see a person wearing a headlite on my deck. I say "hello ?!" and it's the neighbor man, and he starts shouting at me that "you're the stupidest g*ddamn m*therf*cker (SGDMF) I've ever known, etc" and comes barging INTO my house; apparently the dog had snuck out of the house, gone to the neighbor's and killed more chickens - a lot more chickens (baby ones). I am speechless but mumble my apologies. He calms down a little, walks outside, sits in a deck chair, and says "I'll sit here and you tell me why you're not the SGDMF that ever lived". At which point I am starting to get angry, so while remaining calm, I have the spectacularly bad judgement to say "well, as long as we're talking about being stupid, you just came barging into my house out of the night, I could have shot you and gotten away with it". So he goes nuts again, walks back in the house and up to me, and basically accuses me of threatening his life and says "ok MFer, bring it on, I might just kill you first". I say "I was NOT threatening you" and he calms down a little and walks back towards his place. At one point he starts walking back and actually says "I'm sorry I called you stupid, but think about what you did".

    I've had no further contact with him - I don't think he does email. My GF has been in touch with his wife, and says she is upset (she hand-raised there from chicks, some exotic breed) but is being very nice. She'll locate some new chicks soon and we'll pay for them. As far as I know, no party in this has talked to a cop or a lawyer. Evidently the neighbors went to the nearby house of a mutual friend shortly after this confrontation, and the mutual friend tells me that "he got no support for his actions from us [his wife, the mutual friend, and her house-mate] and we had to argue with him awhile 'til he calmed down".

    So what to think, what to do ? I have a bizarre combined feeling of guilt about allowing the chicken slaughter - he was right, I was stupid not to realize there might well have been a repeat attack the next night - but at the same time a feeling of great anger, because this was simply no excuse for the husband assaulting me in my home. Though he never struck me, he did violate my "castle", and in this state at least I could have blown his head off and walked away scot-free. I would never have done such a thing, and can't imagine I would have unless I'd thought someone's life was really in danger, and given how badly I felt about the whole thing, I wouldn't even have fought him, except in self-defense. Still, the fact I could have legally killed him is, I think, a measure of how off-base his actions were. Certainly I could have had him arrested. But - and this is a big "but" - being perfectly honest, putting myself in his shoes, and as upset as his wife must have been (it sounds like it was UGLY over there), I can't deny I would have behaved as he did - EXCEPT, I'm pretty damn sure, for the part where he actually came into my house, uninvited.

    What to do ? Well, my main goal, I think is to reconcile relations with the neighbors. The fact my GF is moving in soon and seems to be relating amicably with the neighbor wife, is cause for optimism. I don't see anything approaching full reconciliation until I get some sort of apology from the husband, and maybe I'm naive, but frankly I'm surprised that hasn't happened yet, because the wife is a really nice person, I'm pretty sure, and I've never had reason to think he was a jerk before this. For now, we'll just try to make sure nothing else goes wrong anytime soon, and of course not allow the dog outside unattended.

    I'll shut up for now, but I'd be grateful for any wisdom folks can shed on this situation.

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  2. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Hmmm.....I haven't run into this one since I lived in WV in the 70's.
    We had a dog named Wilbur who, of course (being city folk), we let run free.

    One day a farmer comes up to us with his shotgun...looking for Wilbur. We apologize and say it won't happen again. He looks at us and says "Once a dog has the taste for chicken, there ain't no stopping 'em"......

    He was probably right. Luckily we moved on soon afterwards and Wilbur lived a long and happy life - although I heard he did run into some trouble at a farm (after we passed him onto another owner)....

    Dogs and chickens don't mix - that's for sure.

    In the Biblical sense, you or your GF 100% owe him the chickens or their value. That much I can say.
    smokinj likes this.
  3. fossil

    fossil Accidental Moderator Staff Member

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    I think you & the GF should gut and roast the dog slowly on a spit and then offer it up to the neighbors, along with some nice side dishes, as a good-faith gesture of contrition and peace-making...it's the neighborly thing to do.
    ColdNH, Joful and Mr A like this.
  4. RustyShackleford

    RustyShackleford Minister of Fire

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    Oh yeah, I 100% agree with you on all but the first. Maybe 80% on that because, maybe, with electricity it may be possible to train a dog to avoid chickens using "aversion therapy". It only took one trial with my neighbor's dog and my outdoor trash can, but I imagine a live chicken is a lot more appealing than some old garbage, wonderfully aromatic as that might be.

    Uh yeah, thanks pal. Although, now that I chew on it awhile ...
  5. charly

    charly Guest

    We have chickens , 3 dogs and a cat... All are good with our chickens... Our youngest dog Benny is a Jack Russell Terrier,,, when he was smaller he use to mouth a chicken once in a while but was told NO! Now that we found out one of our supposedly 18 hen chicks turned out to be a Rooster.. He's gone after Benny a few times when getting too close.. One day he caught Benny in the chicken coop just looking for a stray egg and gave Benny a little foot work,,,, well Benny went squealing out of the coop pretty quick... It does take a long time to raise the chicks and then a while before they even lay eggs, so if you lose anything,, it's about 5-6 months before your back where you started , having eggs again, so I can see why they're upset... Pay for the chickens and see where that goes... My dogs run free here on the farm as well.. a doggie door, but that goes to a fenced area that has a gate we can close when we don't want them out and about... Lately the new thing for the one year old Benny is to chase the rabbits around here after dark,,,He usually stays in and goes to bed with us. I'm worried about the coyotes, so now the gate gets closed at night... the other night at 12:30 I was outside with a flash light trying to get him in , hearing him barking and almost over to a neighbors place.. Had to pull his reins in a little;lol. He's getting fixed soon, so that should settle him down a bit! Good luck with your neighbors.. Oh,, and Terriers are smart little dogs!
  6. RustyShackleford

    RustyShackleford Minister of Fire

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    Thanks for the suggestions thus far. Some "what to do" ones (practical ones), but what about "what to think" ? No question they have a right to be pissed; but I think I have a right too, after the verbal assault. In fact, I think they forfeited the high ground, and that the offense of the dead chickens is superceded by the offense against a person, me. Please discuss - am I right, or am I wrong ? Or maybe I'm asking the wrong question, given my stated goal of wanting reconciliation.
  7. billb3

    billb3 Minister of Fire

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    I'd find a new home for the dog
    ColdNH likes this.
  8. midwestcoast

    midwestcoast Minister of Fire

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    Crappy situation for sure.
    You feel violated by him coming into your home yelling, he feels violated that 'your' dog came onto his property & killed his chickens. I really don't see how it matters that you feel you could have legally shot him. You didn't. It's a pretty low bar from neighborly behavior ;)
    People do dumb things when they are angry. Sounds like he lost control of his temper & maybe so did you. Both sides did/said some dumb stuff. Doesn't much matter what was dumber or who was dumb first. Bottom line is unless you feel like moving it has to be smoothed over.
    A peace offering like home-baked cookies or pie with a sincere apology, some new chickens, invisible fence, dog kept indoors... whatever will calm everyone down.
    Maybe then he will apologize for his actions. Maybe he never will. Either way your stuck living beside him so you need to figure out how to let it go.
  9. charly

    charly Guest

    I think the repeat attack was the culprit setting him off... Probably should have made sure the dog couldn't get back over there.. Still we are talking chickens not an infant that was attacked by your dog... Blasting you solved nothing,, and barging into your house was not the right thing to do...Hopefully things get worked out where you guys can shake hands and become good neighbors again...
  10. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    No easy solution and it's hard to say who is most at fault . . .kind of a which came first sort of question . . . the chicken or the egg . . . or in this case the chickens or the owner.

    A peace offering, keeping the dog leashed, getting new chickens . . . all good ideas . . . just if you go with baked goods I would suggest not going over with a home-baked chicken pot pie.

    In all seriousness . . . Midwestcoast and Charley offer some pretty good advice since it sounds as though you will be neighbors for some time . . . be the bigger man and be the first to attempt to make peace.
    Shane N and charly like this.
  11. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    If I were your neighbor, my next action would be to shoot the dog on site if on my property. Not trying to get into a pizzing contest, just sayin'. I am sure that neither you or your GF would want that to happen. Oh - and full restitution to make them "whole" again is only proper.

    Once - shame on me. Twice - shame on you. Thrice - doggie on the bbq.
    jdp1152, ColdNH, Joful and 4 others like this.
  12. gmule

    gmule Feeling the Heat

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    Are you positive it was your dog that killed the chickens?
    I had a neighbor accuse my dog of killing chickens. I told him impossible because my dog isn't allowed to roam free. a couple of weeks later it was discovered that a fox that was eating them.
    If you are sure it is your dog then I would pay for the chickens and keep the dog leashed if outside.
    I'm not sure about the laws there but here if a dog is threatening live stock on your property it can be shot. That in itself makes sure people keep their dogs contained.
  13. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    Dog on the barbie . . . never had dog . . . heard it tastes like chicken though. ;)
  14. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    I have (I think). I also believe that monkey on a stick was involved at one point. Sometimes you just don't ask.;em
  15. homebrewz

    homebrewz Minister of Fire

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    What kind of terrier is it? Jack Russels for instance, are kind of known for killing things.

    It sounds like you're pretty sure it was the dog the first time. Are you certain it was him the second time? Its true that in some states a landowner can shoot a dog if its on their property threatening livestock. If the dog gets out again, you should consider that as a possible outcome. No way should he have went into your house, but yes, you could have handled it differently. Looks like you're going to have to keep that dog in, at least at night. Some dogs just can't be left to roam free, especially at night and its a far too frequent occurrence that gets them into trouble. Just ask any vet.

    As for the chickens, they're an investment. Chicks are cheap, but you have to feed and take care of them, and its at least 6 months until their ready to lay. You might be able to find some young (their egg laying declines with age) hens where someone doesn't want them anymore, or they got too many chicks last spring.
  16. Ehouse

    Ehouse Minister of Fire

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    It's a technicality since you didn't get a summons, but around here, both pets and livestock must be constrained. If the chickens were out and about, (off his property), He has no legal complaint. With my pup it was ducks, but they were all over the road. I had a herd of about 20 Herfords stampede through my back yard once, and the local cat lady is of course deaf to any complaints about her darlings marauding throughout the neighborhood. Country life is interesting!
  17. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    This thread sound comedic but it really does represent how the first laws in history were considered and written.....

    I guess the themes keep reoccurring......

    But there is no way the ancients would have considered shooting or spearing their neighbors in such a dispute! I guess that is one example of how more deadly weapons can escalate a situation. After all, my guess is that very few people would have the stones to carve up their neighbor with a spear.
    According to the ancients, since the chickens were female, you probably don't owe as much. Then again, you neither killed nor stole the animals, so the penalty would probably be less.

    In 1612, Virginia's governor, Sir Thomas Dale, implemented the Divine, Moral, and Martial Laws that made death the penalty for even minor offenses such as stealing grapes, killing chickens, killing dogs or horses without permission, or trading with Indians. Seven years later these laws were softened because Virginia feared that no one would settle there

    Any old testament or Sumerian scholars here?

    penalties for stealing or killing animals:
    bull 15 cattle
    cow 6 oxen
    stallion 15 horses
    mare 6 horses
    ram 15 sheep
    ewe 6 sheep
    plow ox 10 cattle
    draft horse 10 cattle
    trained goat 10 cattle
    mule 2 mules
    pig 6 shekels
    piglet 100 liters of barley
    herding dog 20 shekels
    hunting dog 12 shekels
    plain dog 1 shekel
    bee hives 6 shekels


    Again we see just enough of a pattern to suggest a logic, but there remain exceptions to the rules that make no sense. The general rule is that, if you steal a male animal, you must pay a fine of 15 animals of the same species
  18. Stax

    Stax Minister of Fire

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    Don't live in "the sticks" and don't raise chickens, but I definitely agrees w/ Jags.
  19. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    While the chickens are considered by most people to be livestock, many people consider them pets not unlike dogs and cats. This lady went to efforts to raise exotic breeds, she is not a farmer, this is not livestock to her, these are more closely related to her children than to her dinner.

    If I had the chance, I would have killed your dog on his second visit for sure. Actually, the first visit if I caught him in the act. In no case would I have entered your home as he did, that's nuts and is evidence that this guy is a loose cannon. You'll want to be killing him with kindness now as a strategic measure.
    Shane N likes this.
  20. JDC1

    JDC1 Feeling the Heat

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    Stuff happens. We have a few chickens and raise some for meat every summer. Our Neighbors dog got into the meat pen and killed a few. It's not the dogs fault as it is instinct to them. They felt bad and paid for the entire batch as well as gave us a gift card and a case of beer. So far it was the best batch of meat birds that I have raised. If he cannot calm down after a sincere apology it might be best to keep the dog on a leash as he might not come back a third time.

    We have labs and while they don't kill anything I cannot get them to stop retrieving them. It usually doesn't go we'll for the chicken. Our Shepherd pup just caught a hen that decided she didn't want to stay on her side of the fence. She doesn't have any tail feathers anymore
  21. yooperdave

    yooperdave Minister of Fire

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    I have to ask why you didn't get over there as soon as you found out that your dog was involved? Intending to "talk to them soon" as you put it shows lack of consideration and lets the neighbor know that you think its not serious enough to even attempt to make good on their loss. Then, it happens again! Damn right he's po'd.
    That was the first mistake.
    The second mistake, was not calling the cops when he barges into your residence. At the very least, he should have been "physically escorted" out and told to calm down and then return. Remember, nobody can take advantage of you unless you let them. The way the story goes, this guy owned you while at your house...that's not right.
    I'm thinking that your feeling of being "assualted in your castle" could have been avoided if you had visited him as soon as you found out.
    I think that jags has the ultimate solution for this scenario pegged.
    Sorry that this sounds harsh, but I really do think it could have been avoided with effort on your part.

    This same thing happened to my family while growing up...that is, the neighbors dogs killed a bunch of our chickens. (26). When they were informed and asked to pay restitution costs, they pretty much said, if my dog did it, just shoot em. Yup, took them up on the counter offer.
  22. Swedishchef

    Swedishchef Minister of Fire

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    1- I think going over there right away would have been the best thing to do. It sounds like you owe chickens...

    2- no matter what goes on in someone's life, they have no right to enter someone's dwelling. In Canada there is a criminal code offence for that called Unlawfully being/entering in a dwelling house. You would have the right to call the police but I think at causes even bigger neighbour disputes.

    Personally I hate dogs coming into my yard. If my children were ever bitten by someone else's dog, sad to say it would be the dog's last day amongst us. Common law in Canada states you can be held liable for your dogs actions if they are lose in someone else's yard....

    I am sure if you replace the chickens, tensions will settle....

    A
  23. Ehouse

    Ehouse Minister of Fire

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    Sounds like "goat trainer" must have been a pretty good gig!
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  24. stee6043

    stee6043 Minister of Fire

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    I didn't read all of the posts above but I have a hard time having much sympathy for you in this case. You were 100% responsible for the dog (not your GF) when you had care and control of him. Your dog was responsible for property damage (assuming animals are considered property in NC as they are here in MI) and now you should be held responsible. At a minimum you should have immediately offered to replace all of the killed chickens, and then some.

    I guess I'm only moderately shocked you didn't take better care to confine the dog before the second attack occured. If I were your neighbor I'm moderately certain I'd have been within my rights to destroy your dog if it was killing my chickens, and that's exactly what I would have done were it legal (the second time).

    To feel you were assaulted (whether or not you were) in this case seems a bit rediculous to me. You stated above that you knew this "person on your porch" was the neighbor before he entered your home. No, he should not have entered your home. But if you think you shooting him in this case would have been a clear execution of your rights under any castle doctrine or stand-your-ground type laws you'd likely be wrong.

    You identified it was your neighbor, you then opened the door. Ask your lawyer how he thinks this self defense case would go had you decided to use lethal force.

    Man up, buy this guy twice as many chickens as the dog killed and consider yourself lucky that the dog is still alive and you don't have to explain to your GF why you weren't taking care of her prized pooch while she was out of town.
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  25. RustyShackleford

    RustyShackleford Minister of Fire

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    Let me clarify a few things. I never considered shooting the neighbor and probably could not do so unless my girlfriend's life were in danger. A friend who's pretty into guns and hunting told me that if a reason you have guns is self-defense, you really need to think about whether you could kill someone. He said if he felt his wife's life were in danger, he's pretty sure he could. If just him, maybe not. Think about the studies showing that soldiers in wartime only aim to kill enemy soldiers like half the time. Because of this, the Army has gone to great trouble to make killing an automatic reflex, sometimes with tragic consequences. This is my theory for why residents of invaded land usually outfight the heck out of the invaders, e.g. Confederates during the American Civil War, Viet Cong, etc. But I digress.

    As I said, I brought up the shooting to show that that's a measure of how "off the reservation" the guy's actions were. Stee6043, I did NOT "open the door". He opened it, and I'd barely realized it was him by that time. I still don't see how you can say you don't have much sympathy. Aren't we talking about a crime against property versus a crime against a person ?

    I absolutely get that I could have handled this better, at many stages: going over earlier the second day, realizing what a danger the dog was and confining him better, not making the neighbor think I'd threatened his life (I'm still not clear whether he actually thought I did this). I considered calling the cops, if for nothing else than to cover my ass if he told them I'd threatened him (threatened a guy who barged into my house ?!), but I think that would have been a bad idea, aggravating the situation, so maybe at least one thing I did right. And yes, from the get-go, we absolutely intend to replace the chickens and have stated as much repeatedly (my GF to his wife).

    I told him "I wouldn't blame you if you shot the dog" (he responded "I don't shoot dogs") and I meant it. I was never that crazy about the dog, and this makes me like him even less. Even my girlfriend isn't that crazy about him, honestly.
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