36

We, people of a multi-story apartment complex are fed up with this lady who calls herself a dog lover. She never takes steps to sterilize, vaccinate them, or arrange for their shelter or food.

She only feeds them raw meat (leftovers), glucose biscuits etc. Due to a lack of food and nutrition, the dogs are getting mad, and bite kids and elderly people. When we tried to get rid of them on our own, she complained to a People for Animals organization against us.

She doesn't have kids.

How can we convince her that dogs are dangerous to kids, even if they are vaccinated. We are vaccinated against rabies but fear getting bitten could kill a child.

Update:

We spoke to this lady but she said she will keep doing her bit and make sure dogs never sleep hungry. When we said dogs are biting 5 year olds, she said because your kids pokes them and provoke them. She also called PFA and they were also speaking her language.

  • 2
    What kind of dogs are they? If they're pitbulls or German shepherds, and they're biting people, I can understand your concern that someone might get seriously hurt. If they're poodles or Pomeranians, then your concern seems a bit more unfounded. – F1Krazy Jun 29 '18 at 8:10
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    What was the outcome of her complaint to "People for Animals"? – gnasher729 Jun 29 '18 at 10:32
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    @F1Krazy These are street dogs. I don't know their breed (is their breed named for street dogs) but they are certainly not expensive breeds like pitbull, german shepherds, labrador, rotweiller, dobermann, poodles, pomeranians . Such expensive breeds never roam in open,if they do, people will run to adopt them from streets or kidnappers will kidnap them, wash them and sell them away at nice price. – paul Jun 29 '18 at 11:24
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    One person would not be able to support a colony of dogs with leftover meat and biscuits. Are you certain that she is the main reason the dogs stay in your area? Perhaps there are other tenants feeding them or places for them to find sustenance, e.g. trash bins or restaurants that throw away leftovers in the backyard? – undercat Jun 29 '18 at 11:45
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    Recommend asking what action you can take on legal.SE - specific to your country. Interpersonal solutions may help the relationship between the two of you, but if you need to take action to remove the dogs (which personally I'd recommend), a legal answer can give you a better idea of your rights and the organisations and processes to follow. – Bilkokuya Jun 29 '18 at 12:34
45

the dogs are getting mad, and bite kids and elderly people

This sentence alone means that the time to be nice is over. I have children and was faced with a similar situation before.

First, call the police. Tell them that this lady's dogs are attacking people. Not stray dogs, but hers. If she denies then they are good to go to the shelter. You will probably have a few backers on your side.

Then, if this doesn't stop I would personally threaten her with the fact that she will be sued, which means money and possibly jail

Sorry but there is a limit to everything. I love animals, had and have dogs and cats but there are priorities. Philosophical approaches work until a kid is seriously wounded and suddenly it is the fist of the father which helps her to understand that she lives in a society with more than herself and her dogs.


EDIT: just to be extra clear

and suddenly it is the fist of the father which helps her to understand that she lives in a society with more than herself and her dogs

is the unfortunate consequence which may arise if she is not stopped quickly.

This is certainly not the right thing to do, not because she does not deserve it (she does by being an indirect threat to the children) but because there are better ways to effectively stop her (like placing her in a psychiatric hospital where she belongs).

I would like to see the supporters of the kind and soft approach to this idiot lady explain their philosophy to the parent of the child who has been bitten on the face by one of these dogs.

Note: the tag has been added after my answer was posted, which answer is indeed directed towards a "Western culture" (for lack of a better name)

  • 5
    We expect answers to be more substantial than a series of instructions for the OP to follow. Can you edit this to provide an explanation for why you think that following these instructions will address the OP's needs? – sphennings Jun 29 '18 at 14:58
  • @sphennings (my previous answer to your comment was deleted): what is missing? I think that the answer is complete - what was not clear to you? – WoJ Jul 1 '18 at 7:57
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    I think you might be oversimplifying the situation. Your approach would work in Western countries with a proper police force, animal control and psychiatric institutions. Many countries, however, don't have those or lack resources to use them for crimes that are yet to happen (someone who has been murdered is probably more important for police than a dog that might attack someone in future). Also note that advising to threaten them (esp. your second threat) seems unwise given the vigilante (mob) justice culture in India. – JJJ Jul 1 '18 at 15:50
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    Can someone confirm that the phrase "fist of the father" has other meaning except its literal meaning? Please. – Ivanka Todorova Jul 2 '18 at 11:29
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    Is this theoretical, or can this advice be backed up with experience? Has the aggressive vigilante-like approach worked for you in the past? – MikeQ Jul 3 '18 at 16:06
21

If they are dangerous

If the dogs are truly a danger to you or anyone else contact the building manager or the tenants council (the people who live in the building that manage affairs) and have them removed. If she is not feeding or mistreating the dogs you can report her to animal cruelty or animal welfare charities.

If they're not

How can we convince her that dogs are dangerous for kids, even if they are vaccinated.

If the dogs aren't actually dangerous (no health problems is not violent) then there's not much you can do. There's little chance of convincing someone that something they love and care about is dangerous especially as she probably knows a lot more about dogs than you do. There are around 16 million households with dogs in the UK (Source) and the number of deaths per year is an average of 2.2 (Source). Dogs are not intrinsically dangerous, that is just your opinion.

(I've lived in buildings where animals have been a problem before).

  • 8
    "as she probably knows a lot more about dogs than you do". Where did that come from? Pretty rough, compared to the rest of the answer. – Jeffrey Jun 29 '18 at 14:09
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    @Jeffrey It wasn't intended as an insult, just that someone who spends time a lot of time with dogs is likely to be more knowledgeable about them than someone who doesn't – Jon.G Jun 29 '18 at 14:12
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    Looking at the original question, she doesn't keep the dogs; the dogs are feral and this lady is just feeding them her leftovers. Also, it appears that the dogs are attacking people so I'm not sure there's an "if" to them being dangerous. – HAEM Jun 29 '18 at 21:13
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    @JonG As a dog owner myself, I'm afraid that isn't really true. A responsible dog owner certainly would know more about dogs - but there are plenty of dog owners who aren't responsible. This woman isn't even really a dog owner, and everything she's doing is making things worse for people and for the dogs (which are likely to all be killed now, if they've developed threatening behaviour). – Graham Jun 30 '18 at 0:26
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    @Jon.G From the OP's description of the situation, it seems she is quite clueless how to treat dogs properly. – gnasher729 Jun 30 '18 at 14:29
17

As you mention you all have had the Rabies Vaccine I assume you are in India. There are some significant cultural challenges.

I suggest rather then trying to keep her from "helping" the dogs get her involved in an organization that actually does help the dogs. There are some pointers in this sister site post at pet.se Helping stray animals in India

This should give her direction on how to actually be helpful, from people she should be able to learn from, based on their shared love of animals.

Not saying you don't love animals, saying she thinks you don't.

6

Short of bringing in some variant of force (law enforcement, animal control, etc) or threat thereof, as several of the other answers suggest, you're going to need finesse and time.

Before you get started, I strongly recommend reading:

  1. "How to Win Friends and Influence People"
  2. "Influence; The Psychology of Persuasion"
  3. anything you can find about using the Socratic Method to ask questions that help people discover flaws in their own views (if you can look beyond the subject matter of religion and generalize the principles from examples, "A Manual for Creating Atheists" is a good one).
  4. anything you can find about how compassion and empathy can be trained or increased. There's scientific literature and probably books covering it - the general gist is that people are often very empathetic so long as you can prompt them to think about what things are like from your perspective, and usually the problem is that they just haven't thought to or don't understand your perspective enough to imagine it.

That's the bare minimum. Getting people whose actions and life decisions you disagree with to change their behavior to your liking is a very non-trivial science and art form. No answer will properly sum up the principles involved - because they take several books to properly cover.

However, here's an overall scaffold, that I present with some hypothetical examples as a necessarily crude general gist of an approach:

1 - Establish Friendliness and Understanding

Strike up a friendly/good-natured conversation with her, working quickly into something that shows her that you understand and can relate to her perspective. Maybe:

So I've noticed you feed the dogs regularly, you really care about them and their well-being, right?

If you've already given her a negative impression of you by challenging her on this topic before, start with something like:

Listen, I'm sorry I was harsh towards you before about the dogs. I understand that you care about these dogs and that you only feed them because you want to help them have better lives, right?

Most people need to trust that you understand and relate before they become receptive to opening themselves up to your criticisms. And people really react poorly to being told they can't do something - most people's minds abhor limits that they did not choose or agree with (the most likely time for people to rebel against authority? Immediately after a freedom they previously had is noticeably taken away).

Without a positive interpersonal foundation, "Stop doing [x]" is the worst of both: it implies you're wrong for wanting to do the thing, and tries to tell you you can't do that thing.

2 - Turn All Your Disagreements into Questions

Whenever I hear something wrong, I do my best to immediately ask myself in my head "how could this be right?". I look real hard for any way I can turn ever perceived error in reasoning, judgment, or knowledge, into a question I can ask them. For example:

Okay, now one part I don't full understand, that I'm worried about: You know how when you go into forests and stuff they tell you not to feed bears because then they start thinking of people as sources of food? I understand that dogs are different and friendlier to people than wild animals, so maybe I'm missing something here: don't you think there's a risk of that happening with dogs?

And if she says "no", you keep looking for questions. Ideally, you figure out why she thinks that's not an issue, or even better, what other emotional associations she has invested in the issue. Once you don't see a clear path any further, you can straight-up introduce data-points in question form:

Okay, I think I understand that [rephrase her reasoning while keeping seemingly significant words the same, then ask for confirmation]. Well, what about that kid that got bitten by one of the dogs the other day? You know these dogs better than I do, do you think that the kid did something wrong or might it be related?

Or even:

Well, the reason I ask is because I've been noticing that whenever I go outside these dogs get closer to me, seemingly begging for food. I think they've been doing it more and more. Is it possible that the dogs are starting to expect a meal from humans in this apartment complex?

For best questions, don't follow these suggestions: Look inside yourself and really figure out what specific events or thoughts or experiences you have causing your concern about the dogs. Ask her about those. For example, maybe you have an experience in your past where a dog got used to people feeding it and then bit you when you were a kid, or something like that. Or maybe you've had a close call with one of these current street dogs biting you or one of your kids. Tell that story, in a way that describes but does not accuse, and instead of finishing with "and that's why you should stop" finish with "so that's why I am concerned - does that help make it clearer where I'm coming from?"

And perhaps better still, stop focusing on the problem you care about, and get her to identify a problem that she cares about:

What do you think will happen to these dogs once you've moved out of here? They seem so used to getting food from you, do you think they'll manage to find enough food in the wild on their own?

..or:

I've noticed that some of the other residents have been getting very hostile to the dogs - do you ever worry that they might start calling animal control services on them, or that one of the dogs might bite a kid and end up being put down?

Important: Most of these questions can sound disingenuous or passive-aggressive unless you've actually established yourself as being there to ask genuine questions. The last one can even come off as a "would be a shame if someone were to... kill these dogs" style threat, unless you're continuing to sustain an atmosphere of genuine inquiry and an air of being receptive to learning or changing your own views (it really helps with that if you genuinely are looking for answers and are open to the possibility that along the way you might revise your own position at least a little).

3 - Help Her Find Solutions

Once you've got her acknowledging that the dog behavior is a problem, ask her about what she thinks she could do to help solve it.

Your solution is "don't feed the dogs", but your actual problem isn't the dog-feeding, it's the dogs being in the neighborhood and becoming a possible threat.

She might decide that she wants to proactively train the dogs to only take food from her and not expect it from others (for example, by never giving them food except at a very specific spot in the apartment, or outside the apartment complex, while gradually teaching them to sit on her command in order to receive the food) or something else.

Either her solution solves the problem, or it doesn't. If it's obvious the solution doesn't solve the problem, apply this same process to examining possible flaws in the solution and other alternatives.

Or she'll decide on her own to stop feeding the dogs.

4 - Wait and Repeat

There's a very good chance that a single conversation will not significantly change things. You'll need to be gentle but persistent, keep building the actual connection and occasionally bringing up the issues.

Very often, the seeds you plant will take time to grow. Also, sometimes people exhibit gradually greater resistance to an idea in the lead-up to switching over to accepting it. Why this happens is outside the scope of this answer, but you need to understand that first and foremost, you need patience. Socratic Method -induced cognitive-dissonance-like resistance looks like the opposite of progress but it's just the person processing things.

But if you get impatient, if you start regressing into proclamations and assertions of her being wrong or into insistence or demands for a specific solution, you will antagonize her against those ideas, and disagreement-galvanized resistance is the opposite of progress.

Summary of General Principles

  1. Look to genuinely understand the person's position. If you still can't relate to it, you're not done.
  2. Socratic method questioning actually gets people engaged in proving themselves wrong, while disagreement gets them engaged in proving themselves right. And you'll do better at it if you are genuinely trying to understand the side you disagree with and open to finding possible errors in your side.
  3. People resent obvious demands or limitations being imposed on them by others, but once you've helped them see a problem, they are often able to come up with their own solutions that might be just as good or better.
  4. Mind changes take time, are often turbulent.

You need to understand what you're asking to do - you're looking to get a person to change their behavior, which very often (and I think this is a case of that) requires changing deep cognitive habits and beliefs. You can open a door for the person to do this, but that level of self-review and change is uncomfortable for many people, and it is your responsibility to provide them with a few of the other side of that door - if you're correct and there's less obvious errors on your side of that door, and what you show them suggests that there's a way for them to be happy and content with life and themselves if they move their perspective there, only then there's a good chance they'll walk through to your side.

The onus is on you to really understand what the person needs from their cognition and beliefs and provide usable alternatives using the techniques above accordingly.

5

If there are laws in your country about stray dogs, then you should be able to contact your local authorities, and insist that they are removed.

You could perhaps point out to this lady, that if she prevents the dogs from being removed, and encourages them to hang-around by feeding them, then she could be sued if one of the dogs were to harm someone.

I'm not sure whether in practice you could actually do this, but I would certainly try.

Also point out that what she's feeding them, is very harmful for their health. If she genuinely cares for the dogs, she should be buying proper, healthy dog food.

2

Appeal to her empathy and grace. She obviously cares to avoid having dogs suffer - why else take the time to feed dogs you could otherwise ignore?

Make it clear to her that by feeding these dogs, she is actually doing them harm. Bring up how dogs who are encourages to congregate and who aren't neutered are likely to lead to more and more dogs, all of whom need to complete for resources. By feeding those few dogs, she is encouraging generations of dogs who will grow up, starve, and die in the gutters, unloved.

Point out that there are many, many ways she can help stray dogs that DON'T lead to negative outcomes for those dogs and more - she can donate to dog charities who operate on a neuter and release program, or who house stray dogs and re-home them. Help her connect with resources that can help her focus her efforts into a truly helpful manner. You'll get a lot more progress playing towards her interests and hopes than you will trying to get her to suddenly stop caring for dogs that she perceives as being in need.

2

You're talking to the wrong person about feeding street dogs. Call Animal control. Problem solved.

If you don't have animal control, you could try just feeding the dogs correctly so they don't get mad. The key thing to realize here is that your neighbor is being willfully stupid and any effective solution to this problem will involve going around her, and, since it sounds like you live in America, she's probably going to make you look bad, since America often rewards opinionated foolishness.

If you still want to explain to your neighbor why what she did was wrong, just make her an informational flier or something. You can have the conversation with her if you want, but no level of explanation is going to get her to stop. If you do choose to have the conversation, make sure you construct a logical argument - it is an argument - and provide real world examples of your points, i.e. it is bad to not neuter your pets and strays because dogs can get very painful std's or bring puppies into the world that will simply starve/freeze due to the parent's poor condition and inability to care for them.

Good luck.

  • This doesn't answer the OP's question. While it may address the OP's problem (street dogs) that isn't the question that was asked. Can you edit this to answer the OP's question about how to talk to someone about feeding street dogs? – sphennings Jun 29 '18 at 15:26
  • @sphennings pretty sure I did that, but I'll try again. – user13972 Jun 29 '18 at 15:27
2

Ignore that lady and directly make complaint to city's MNC (Municipal Corporation)

I am also from India. So, I know few solutions are available as below,

  1. First of all Don't speak with that lady because she looks like very stubborn kind of nature.
  2. In India, In every city, there is MNC (Municipal Corporation). They have certain kind of rules about these street dogs.
  3. Each year, the september month is breeding period of dogs. At that time, you might have seen many dogs on street. So, during this period, Specially, MNC people take action against these all street dogs.
  4. They do not listen to these kind of dog lovers (I mean who harms human being and loves animals).
  5. They care much about citizens rather than animals.

So better way to ignore that lady and directly go to MNC. They will immediately take the action against these street dogs.

Your problem will solve immediately.

1

Get the PfA involved more. PfA India actually advocates Animal Birth Control (ABC).

Your neighbour is now against you and feels she needs to protect "her" dogs against you. But she feels the PfA is on her side. She may not listen to you, but might listen to the PfA.

You don't know what she has told PfA exactly. So call PfA and explain the situation yourself. Emphasise that while your neighbour means well, what she does may not be in the dogs' best interests. That the dogs haven't been sterilised. That the dogs may be fed, but still malnourished because the food they get lacks vital ingredients.

The PfA may be able to mediate between you and your neighbour as well.

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