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When Big Dogs Harm Small Dogs, Mediate to Meaningfully Resolve Conflict

Disclaimer: This article does not constitute legal advice. If you have any questions about your individual situation it is best to seek the advice of an experienced legal professional.

Sometimes the unthinkable happens. Your adored pet gets into an accident and is seriously hurt or killed. But there’s an even worse fate that can befall dog owners: your pet is the one responsible for the accident or death of another pet. This can mean a double tragedy: one dog loses their life, and the dog who attacks is euthanized too. It depends on the law in your state, but in some cases when a dog kills a dog, the attacking dog can be euthanized. If you are the owner of the dog who is the victim of the accident or the injury, you might not even want the other dog to die, but by contacting authorities you might initiate a process that ends in the death of the animal who has hurt or killed your dog. You might believe that the most responsible course of action is to make sure the offending dog is taken care of by the authorities. You might want something positive to come out of the death of your pet. However, here’s two major reasons why you should consider mediating first:

1. Killing an Animal Doesn’t Solve the Problem

When authorities kill a dog who has hurt or killed another dog or injured a human, the problem is assumed to be removed because the dog has been removed. Unfortunately that can sometimes leave a potentially irresponsible owner still out there. A big proportion of states don’t ban owners of dangerous dogs from dog-owning after their dangerous dog is euthanized. The owner can buy a new dog and can handle or train the animal incorrectly so that the dog causes problems for other dog owners. Often people recall that a bigger dog “came out of nowhere” and attacked their smaller dog. “It was over so fast” is a recollection that many people share. This is what happens when a dog is unsupervised and not trained to stay away from other dogs. In addition there’s little evidence that banning breeds and larger dog sizes solves anything. The type and character of the dog doesn’t matter as much as how the dog is handled by its owner.

2. Mediation Can Heal and Rehabilitate

Sometimes owners of dogs deemed dangerous will have to pay fines and serve light sentences. In many states they can become dog owners again. This recent story illustrates how the violence of one dog can cause a bitter conflict between neighbors. If neighbors with animals who hurt each other don’t heal their differences, conflict can strain relations in local areas (and these incidents often happen between neighbors). The strength of mediation is that it recognizes that money and punishment doesn’t heal all wounds. Animal mediation can offer restorative justice, where dog owners become involved in making amends to the owners of animals who have been injured. They could agree to learn how to train their dogs, offer some kind of personal gesture to the owner, in addition to preventative actions like confining and chipping a dog and financial compensation. Mediation can also engage other parties such as Housing or Condo Associations or Local Authorities to help implement better animal management policy. Mediation can have lasting positive effects that litigation can’t. Mediators may also be equipped to use psychoanalytical approaches in negotiations. At Boileau Conflict Solutions we enlist our backgrounds in psychoanalysis to find sustainable solutions that uncover people’s deeper emotional interests to meaningfully resolve conflict.

We maintain that animals are important stakeholders in our culture and should be represented fairly in conflict. The first step to successfully mediating a dispute involving animals is recognizing that animals have legitimate life interests. In the legal system, animals are treated like property. By considering the best interests of animals, parties don’t have to remain locked in intractable positions with animals as property. We are a group of caring and well-educated mediators and negotiators with financial, legal and psychological backgrounds. We handle disputes using a set of unique approaches informed by game theory, communication theory, psychoanalysis and the law. We value non-violent resolutions if at all possible and can intervene in urgent situations to prevent harm to animals by facilitating alternative solutions to animal control etc. Animal Rights mediation is a cheaper, more flexible alternative to litigation and it is the only way animal’s rights can be considered in conflict resolution. We are available seven days a week and at urgent notice at our offices in Boulder, CO, Irvine, CA, Campbell, CA and LA. We can also be reached via Zoom, Facetime and Telephone and conflict resolution can also be arranged remotely. Please contact us now to see how we can help.

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