Experts talk preventing, breaking up dog fights after fatal attack in Grand Forks

Published: May. 17, 2023 at 6:08 PM CDT
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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - We’re learning more about an attack that ended in two dead dogs and one woman injured in Grand Forks Tuesday night.

It happened in the 1600 block of 28th Ave. S., when the owner of two chihuahuas was dog-sitting a friend’s Pitbull. Family members tell VNL the Pitbull became aggressive while eating. One chihuahua was killed, the other injured, as well as the woman. Police were later forced to shoot and kill the dog.

If you can predict a fight, you can prevent a fight; That’s the mindset two local trainers say every dog owner should have, especially when bringing your four-legged friends into new situations.

“A dog is an animal and unfortunately, sometimes people imagine that all dogs are Disney dogs, like, ‘Whee! I love everybody!’ And that’s generally not the case,” Kish Mackin, ‘Down Dog Studios’ training owner.

Before any dog comes over to your home, short or long-term, Mackin says to pick up your dog’s toys, food bowl, beds and water.

“Pick everything up that can be considered high value because that can often spark fights or scuffles for dogs that we would have never anticipated. Dogs can become concerned or jealous they are going to miss out,” Mackin said.

“Always remember you can say no. You don’t have to watch someone else’s dog,” Bailey Stickney, ‘Laughing Dog’ training owner said.

If a dog is going to stay with you, both women say it’s important to set your home up for safety. They say to make sure your pets and the visiting dogs are separated when eating, and Stickney even suggests putting what she calls ‘a house line’ on the visiting pets, just in case.

“The dog just drags the leash around with them, so if you notice that their bodies are stiffening up, I’m going to grab that leash so I don’t have to reach my hand in there where there’s danger,” she explained.

“I think the worst mindset is, ‘Let’s see what happens,’” Mackin said.

Both women say while our instinct is to break up a dog fight, there’s no guarantee you won’t get hurt. They both urge you to not grab for dogs’ faces or collars, and instead say it’s best to try to re-direct the dogs attention without getting physically involved.

Stickney says it’s also important to consider the size of both your dogs and the dogs coming into your home. She says a 20 lb. difference should be your threshold.

“A fight between two similar sized dogs is less likely to end in death than a tiny dog and a large dog,” Stickney said.