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How Would You React to Someone Kicking Your Dog?

How Would You React to Someone Kicking Your Dog?

Last week the weather in NYC had finally (and briefly) climbed above freezing, and I had Charlotte and Mercury outside for our morning walk. We live in a busy mixed business and residential neighborhood in Brooklyn, and morning sidewalks are bustling with families getting kids to daycare and school, young professionals heading off to work, and of course folks like me walking our dogs. 

Because we live in the city and anytime my dogs go outside we’re in a public place, their training has included various sidewalk manners. They know to stop and sit at intersections, to relieve themselves on the curb or in the street, and they know when we’re passing someone on a crowded sidewalk and I say “single file” that Charlotte is to go in front of me and Mercury to drop behind me to allow us to pass by others to give room to others to pass us.

Anyway, so it was a normal morning, and I was out with the dogs for their first walk of the day before I headed to work. Coming toward us down the sidewalk was a man with two little kids, I didn’t think much of it other than to tell the dogs “single file” and move us as close to the curb as possible so that we could all pass each other on the sidewalk.

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The youngest child -– a little girl about two years old — made “bang bang” pretend shooting noises at my dogs, who ignored her. I didn’t think anything about them; kids make all kinds of obnoxious noises at my dogs, who are both very desensitized to this behavior. I thought we were past them and was about to pull the dogs out of our single-file formation when I heard Mercury scream. I whipped around and saw that the older child, a boy about five years old, had kicked Mercury in the ribs. Mercury, for reference, is a 12-year-old Chihuahua mix who weighs about 12 pounds; he’s completely bombproof unfazed by dogs, children, fire trucks, parades, you name it — this dog is emotionally solid. I can guarantee he probably hadn’t even looked at the kid let alone do anything to provoke an attack.

Immediately I started to tend to my dog — I was worried that Mercury had been hurt — but thankfully he seemed (understandably) surprised and confused but not actually injured. Charlotte, bless her silly self, was completely oblivious to what had happened. As I was making sure Mercury was OK the father had grabbed his son and much to my shock began beating the kid right there on the sidewalk. It was an awful moment, the whole thing was horrible, I was actually in shock. Once I knew my dog was OK I left. The dogs and I started walking down the sidewalk, and there didn’t seem to be anything I could do or say that would make any part of this situation actually OK. The father, seemingly done beating on his child, yelled after me, “Sorry, Miss.” I didn’t know what to say, so I said nothing.

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The whole situation on the Brooklyn sidewalk was awful. I of course feel angry and upset for little Mercury, who did nothing to warrant being kicked, but I also feel horrible for that little boy who kicked my dog. When I’m not writing stories or wrangling dogs, I can be found managing programs for homeless teenagers, so I’m no stranger to abused kids. I was an abused kid before I was a runaway as a teen.

Abuse is learned behavior; the father’s actions upon seeing his child kick my dog prove to me that violence is not uncommon in that home, and so it’s no wonder that this child reenacted that violence against someone less powerful than himself –- little Mercury. But having this larger understanding of abuse and violence and learned behavior didn’t make processing what was happening in front of me on the sidewalk any easier, and now I’m a lot more nervous whenever the dogs and I walk past kids.

What would you do if you were out walking and a kid kicked your dog? How would you react? Let me know in the comments.

Photo: A cute dog in the grass at a park during summer by Shutterstock

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This post was written by Sassafras Lowrey, regular contributor to Dogster Magazine.

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212 comments

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12:04AM PDT on Jul 20, 2014

I would scream at the top of my lungs, right in their face.

11:08AM PDT on Jun 29, 2014

Father was correct to discipline the son but not in a violent manner.
Kids are reflections of their environment. I would definitely have spoken gently to the father that he need to communicate proper behaviour in the presence of strange dogs to his son, in a convincing manner. Perhaps by putting himself in the dog's position

5:50AM PDT on Jun 29, 2014

don't mess with my dogs!!!

7:37PM PDT on Jun 2, 2014

And anyone wonders why the 5 year old child, unprovoked, lashed out and kicked a defenseless dog? Where did he learn to attack something smaller and vulnerable? While I would defend to the death anyone attacking my dogs, my cats, my kids... I would first consider the source. While a 5 year old could inflict serious damage on a small animal, it is a child. If the parent had not reacted, I would have immediately talked to both parent and child about the incident and never kicking/hitting/abusing an animal. However, ignoring a child being beaten (that's what this article says, not a smack on the butt) is irresponsible. At the very least, the father should have been approached and told his actions were excessive: you don't teach compassion and respect through violence! Perhaps the cops should have been called. If this man is willing to do this in public to his kid, just what does he do behind closed doors? There is no excuse for violence against the powerless, defenseless and vulnerable, whether it's a child, a dog, a cat, a horse...

9:06AM PDT on May 31, 2014

I would beat them up, if it is small kids I would Yell and make sure the parents punished the kids or i would no one kicks, hits my animals and gets away with it. People should learn their kids to love and care about animals. Even the toddler should know better.

9:27AM PDT on May 27, 2014

Kudo's to the father so well done that he hit the child, that will help the child to learn that he should not be mean to animals. What is the scandal that the father hit that bad boy?.The kid deserved it. American culture has that huge disadvantage against the Hispanic culture, that Americans do not punish or discipline their children and why there is so much debauchery in that country as a parent can not teach their children to behave well as, and in this case the beating his son was the best lesson. In our country the majority of young people and children respect and obey their parents.

6:58PM PDT on May 13, 2014

This is an older post. I commented on this previously.
I would say help anyone that dares kick my dog/cat or whatever animal. With children you do not hit and abuse them .You will firmly and strongly need to explain and find a way to teach them why this is wrong .If an older child they probably already right from wrong and that would be different for me/the same as an adult The father should not have abused his child in a violent matter at this age .It wont help!!
I would not suggest anyone ever attempt or do this to one of my dogs or cats......

9:05AM PDT on Apr 27, 2014

I'm afraid that I agree with the Dad disciplining the child. He should NEVER have kicked your dog! I would've gone spare if that was my pet! I was smacked as a kid and had very strict parents, along with a very strict schooling, so I'm no stranger to discipline and I don't think it did me any harm. Parents should take more responsibility for their children and instill right from wrong from an early age.

9:05AM PDT on Apr 27, 2014

I'm afraid that I agree with the Dad disciplining the child. He should NEVER have kicked your dog! I would've gone spare if that was my pet! I was smacked as a kid and had very strict parents, along with a very strict schooling, so I'm no stranger to discipline and I don't think it did me any harm. Parents should take more responsibility for their children and instill right from wrong from an early age.

10:13PM PDT on Apr 24, 2014

You kick my dog and I can promise you I will kick your a$$ all over the neighborhood!! If it is a small child, I will kick the parents all over the street. Don't touch my dogs in anyway harmful to them. You might get more of the same, only worse! I keep my dogs under control and I expect you to do the same with your kids! How would you like it if I came up and kicked your kid for no reason? Well these dogs are my kids!

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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