Thursday, February 26, 2009

Can't pick your neighbors

When we moved into this area several years ago, we noticed that the house to the east was nice, but junk everywhere in the backyard, including a lot of parked cars/lawn mowers/campers. Now, I'm not one to judge another's yard or lifestyle and hey, maybe they are into the three R's. (that'd be reduce, REUSE, recycle).

For the last 3+ years, we've done our best to be neighborly. We wave, we visit and we do our part to keep the neighborhood up. These neighbors don't wave back and in general, piss a lot of people off. I'm of the "live and let live" mindset, so I don't get my panties too twisted if they drive on the corner of my lawn repeatedly or they have inoperable cars on their driveway. As the HOA President, I field these type of complaints about them weekly, again, I assure people that life is too short to get high blood pressure over the bad apple of the neighborhood.

All of my laid back niceness has now been chucked out the window.

Their dog, a black lab, is an escape artist. She jumps the fence, walks thru open gates & sections of fence that were taken down. We have taken her back home numerous times. She barks, incessantly at nothing. I, too, have labs. They only bark if someone approaches our fence or if they see a dog on the road (lots of dog walkers here.)

I've put up with the escaping. Even have put her in our yard several times until they got home (didn't even get so much as a 'thanks for helping us out'). I've put up with the barking, even though it's outside my bedroom window day and night.

I love labradors. It's my favorite breed. A breed I understand and can deal with. The dog is bored. She isn't worked with. She isn't handled. She is smart and neglected.

Last Monday night, when she dug under the dividing fence and killed 3 of my free range chickens before we could stop her, that's when I got mad. Enough is enough. I held onto her collar until my husband could go and get the neighbor. All neighbor said was that he'd be out later to fix the fence. He didn't. Never offered to clean up the carnage. Never offered to pay for the replacement hens. No apologies. Nothing. He could hear my daughters and youngest son shrieking hysterically in the house. Never said a word.

A week has passed. Jerry decides to go over and talk to them again about the dog - barking, digging under the fence and the cost of the hens.

Mrs. Neighbor is the one who he spoke to. She is not a nice person. (I'm choosing my words carefully here.)

She said she doesn't like us having chickens (we have 10, totally within the legal limits and we don't have roosters. Hens are quiet, unless they are laying - then they tell the world. Our hen house is at the very back of our property. You have to be in the yard to even hear them as we all have 1 acre lots.) Her point is that people who have chickens are bad, poor and red neck. (Sorry, but when is poor or redneck a problem? Last time I checked, 21% of the world's population lives on less than $1.25 a day - that's poor.)

She said her dog is a lab, and labs attack birds, so too bad for us. I have labs too. 1 was a farm rescue (that caught his own food for months) and even he didn't attack them. The puppies are being trained, so far, so good. Our contention is that had our chickens flown into THEIR yard, yep, it was bound to happen and sucks to be us. But, her dog dug into OUR yard and that's where the problem lies.

She said it's ridiculous for anyone to pay to reimburse for the chickens and that $20 was asinine to pay. Uh, no, these were 6 month old, laying hens that were killed. 2 were leghorns (nearly daily layers) and the other was a Plymouth Rock. What if it had been a $1500 pure bred dog? Or doctor bills for an attacked child? Yeah, you're still responsible. You're the owner and what your animal does, has consequences.

He asked that they do something. There are options. Get rid of the dog. Train the dog. Install an electric fence or an underground fence so she stays away from our yard. Install a privacy fence she can't see thru - right now, it's chain link. Move. (yeah, I voted for that one.) Pay for us to move. (now we're into crazy-talk-territory.) Oh, and do something about the freakin non-stop barking. She said no to everything. Said her husband was sick and when he felt better, he may want to talk to us.

Jerry feels a fight is brewing. We've gotten a lot of advice - that we should've shot the dog (can't legally discharge a firearm inside city limits) and various ways of getting rid of their dog. Uh, NO, I'm an animal lover. It's not the dog's fault that it's doing this out of boredom and lack of interaction from it's owners.

I've reported it to the city - didn't get anywhere. Nobody showed up. Today, dog is indoors, but for how long?

Yesterday, it was nice - temps near 70 degrees. I let the chickens out to free range (what they're used to doing) only I had to stay outside with them the entire time as the dog was barking and digging like mad. Okay, I had some yard work and garden prep to do, but still, I can't be out there all the time. Because we raised them to be free rangers, they are used to it. They hang out in our backyard - it's almost half an acre. Plenty of room to run, scratch and do their chicken thing. Now, they can't free range without supervision. Correction, I don't supervise them, I'm supervising the dog. I tossed it's tennis ball multiple times and I talked to her. I petted her and worked on trying to get her to sit - kind of tough with a fence between us, but I do feel sorry for her. She doesn't deserve a life like that.

I guess there's no point to the post other than I'm frustrated. It's not the only thing going badly right now, but dammit, it's my yard and I ought to be able to enjoy it without fearing the neighbors domesticated "pet".

As a side note - if/when TSHTF, how much ya wanna bet they'll be lining up to buy my eggs?! Sheeple who buy into the "if it's not store bought, it's inferior" are never going to realize the incredible damage they do to themselves with all those store bought chemicals they ingest. I keep reading about how antibiotics are becoming less and less effective while virus are gaining strength. Did you know that 70% of the antibiotics despensed in this country are for animals?! That is shocking! I could go on and on about this as I'm very passionate about being mindful of what we consume and knowing what's in your food stream.

Enough for now. I've gotta go catch a wayward hen and put her back in the chicken run. Sorry sister, no free ranging for now. :(


Karen in Wichita said...

At least under Wichita code, that would be a "dog attack," it would even potential class it as a "dangerous dog" subject to the microchipping etc. requirements, and certainly it would be "running at large." Most of the code says the victim can be a "person OR domestic animal."

Did you report it to Animal Control?

Shiloh Prairie Farm said...

I am so sorry for the loss of your hens! How awful! What rude, inconsiderate neighbors you have! If they ignore the dog anyway, maybe you should have asked if you could have it. I guess that wouldn't work because Mrs Rude wouldn't go for it out of spite and two, they would just get another dog. What kind of a grump has a problem with a few chickens in their neighbors yard, humming and looking for bugs. Geez!

Melissa ~ Wife to 1, Mom to 5 said...

Karen ~ yes I did report it to animal control. Haven't heard back yet. I will be calling to follow up. I read through the codes at the beginning of the barking nonsense last summer and we've followed all the guidelines on it. I'm just not a stir the pot kind of person. Didn't want to have to resort to the law coming out, but that's where we're headed.

Shiloh ~ I know. Their last dog laid outside howling for 2 days. He couldn't get up and it was awful listening to him. We jumped the fence to give him water, knocked on their door and called - no answer. Finally got someone else to call them and they said he'd had a stroke. I could not ever leave a wounded animal like that. They just shouldn't even have pets. We tried to do this the neighborly way, but it takes 2 to cooperate.

mmpaints said...

Boy have I been where you are now. Both dog and horse problems from ignorant neighbors. Do what you have to, stand your ground and don't put up with it, it will not get any better.

JLB said...

I love labradors and dogs in general and you wouldn't get a "shoot it" response from me but I do think maybe the dog should "dissapear" the next time it come over (take it the a shelter or rescue and say you found it). Just a suggestion. If you're interested I'll put a story up tonight about Freckles the dog on my vet blog, you aren't the only one with bad neighbors.

JLB said...

By the way, great comment on the other blog about the raised gardens, I have a ton of cement blocks around here that I used to have bookshelves made out of and was trying to figure out what I could do with them. Thanks!~

Patrice Farmer said...

What about taking them to small claims court. I would feel the same way. They not only had value as animals but financially. I know it might not be worth it but could you do that? Also can you put up Gate blocking off the dog without interfering with your chickens free ranging area?

Melissa ~ Wife to 1, Mom to 5 said...

mmpaints ~ I'm afraid of that. Sigh.

JLB ~ I'd love to read about Freckles. I wish I could find a link to the raised bed w/ concrete blocks. It was so nice. They had some herbs and flowers in the spots. Virtually weed free!

Patrice ~ We already have a chain link fence between our yard and theirs and its about 95 feet in length. We'd have to run a second fence inside the first one - too expensive. Yes, we're going to explore small claims court. I also got word back from a friend at city hall to contact our neighborhood police officer. He came to our HOA meeting in the fall and was a good resource. I put a call in to him this afternoon. I hate to bring the police out for something so small, but her attitude just really got to me. Right now, they're kept in their run, but they don't like it. I keep having to put them back in as they fly right over ~ well the smaller ones do. The buff orpingtons and plymouth rocks are too big now.

Anonymous said...

Issues with neigbors are the worst. I'm not a stir the pot sort either, and I don't know what I'd do here. I think pursuing it legally makes sense, I hope that there are actually laws and agencies that can be effective.

And I'm with you on the store bought food. The chemicals and drugs that are used in industrial farming are pretty scary.

fullfreezer said...

Oh, how awful. So sorry to hear about all of this- not only the hens but the neighbor mess. Some people are just so short sighted and rude. My Dad had a phrase for people like that that I always loved: 'They're swimming at the shallow end of the gene pool". I really hope these people don't have children...
Good luck.

Chickenista said...

I have or should say had a neighborhood dog, that was coming into my yard different ways. Try as I might I just couldn't keep her out. I didn't want to do anything because she was a sweet old dog. Really. That is until she ate half my flock or just killed them for fun! So I went to the owners house who refused to put up any sort of gate to contain her. She rather give me the money I was out which was a little over $300 and kill the dog!! I was more saddened by this than the owner was. It wasn't the dogs fault, it's nature, it's the irresponsible owners!!

Christy said...

I'm sorry. What a pain. So far we've been lucky with our neighbors.

ChristyACB said...

How awful! And the tragic part of this, aside from the loss of your hens and the trauma your family has now gone through, is that the dog is the one that will be destroyed for being dangerous.

I know this sounds bad, but the people are clearly the ones that need to go to the pound!

I'm so sorry to hear of this. I hope that you get resolution asap and life can get back to normal. I feel for that dog...and for you.

JLB said...

I'll head over to my blog in a minute and post the story about Freckles. You can get there through a link on the right side of my bedtick farm one but I try and keep my vet stories seperate :)
When I was younger when had a snowdrift that allowed our two dogs over the fence and they attacked a neighbors goat :( We payed for the damage though and found both dogs new homes seperate from each other.

Jenni said...

I'm sorry about your lousy neighbors!

I hopped over here from the commeent you left on my blog. You've got a very interesting blog here. It's amazing what you're doing while living in Wichita. I think I need to start following you--but only online:o)

Melissa ~ Wife to 1, Mom to 5 said...

Amber - thankfully we have rules here - I just didn't want to have to go that route.

Judy - They do have kids and grandkids. Grandkids love our chickens. :) Love the quote, I'll have to remember that one.

Chickenista - Oh wow! That's really tough too.

Christy - That's good. I've lived numerous places and never had issues before now. Thankfully!

ChristyABC - I know - I'm more upset over the dog than anything. They'll just get another one and treat it the same way.

JLB - That's definitely a responsible way to handle things. I bet that was really hard for you to do though.

Jenni - I found you via Karen's blog. She's a neat lady. I hope to meet her someday (and her ducks).

aterilli said...

I read your post regarding neighbor situation....have one next door. We actually have had no problems for several years. I suggest praying for them. I know that may sound crazy, but it worked for us.
I am interested in doing a square foot garden myself. I was just thinking about it yesterday and looked for wood I could use. I need to check some other sites as well as yours more in depth to get instructions! I want to plant loads of arugula. bye for now

Melissa ~ Wife to 1, Mom to 5 said...

Aterilli ~ Good advice on praying for them. Square foot gardening is awesome! Wednesday was so nice out so I thought I'd just spruce up one bed (clover has already sprouted in a few of the beds.) One bed was done is about 2 min, so I did another. And another. And, well you get the idea. I love gardening this way! I do still keep my potatoes in rows though. Tomatoes are in another area. New this year is peanuts and I haven't decided how to incorporate them yet. Give it a try and post about your results. We all love to read new blogs! :) Welcome to blogland.

PocketsoftheFuture said...

It was upsetting just reading your story, never mind living it. I have frequently read that once a dog gets a taste for fresh chicken, they will always come back for more. So you probably can't let your guard down with either the dog or the dog's people. That is so stressful to have right next door. I hope the situation is resolved soon and for the best.

Lanny said...

I am so sorry for your loss. Take the dog to the pound next time it is in your yard? Sorry that your girls can't free range but I am sure you would rather they be alive. I lost many a bird over the years here, even had ones pulled from cages that were ready to go to poultry shows. All horribly dispatched by black labs owned by our landlord, whom we loved dearly.

ATW said...

Melissa there are a few things I want to say, but they are not appropriate. I hope this situation works out in the end.