we can't fix the loose boards in the backyard fence from our side, they nail in from the neighbor's side. They nailed in some boards once but otherwise won't do anything; we do not know the landlord. The pit bull barks and runs around our yard and charged me once, but no one so far has been bit. On one occasion it came in through our dog's door into the house. They usually keep it penned on the side of their house but that fence is dilapidated and the dog either gets out or they let it out. If the dog breaks through to my backyard again and charges us, or comes in my house, can we shoot it, or do we have to let it bite us or maul/kill our chihuahua first before we're okay to shoot it? we do not want a lawsuit, the dog is not registered as vicious or dangerous that we know of.
Contact BOTH Animal Control (which is usually the County) AND the city (they usually have an office that deals with these matters as well) so they open files on this animal. Explain that the animal has repeatedly broken into your property and charged your family and pet in a menacing way. Contact them every time this happens--after a while, they will take the matter on with the neighbor. I would also call the cops every time it happens because it is in fact a danger. That way, you will have a clear record with 3 government offices of this animal's danger. You have the right to shoot the dog to save a person or your pet from attack to prevent the attack. You can not stop your neighbor from suing you, but with all the complaints you'll make above, and the evidence on your side, he will have a hard time winning. There are no guarantees. You can also record your own backyard as proof.
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You should not shoot the neighbor's dog. It is never a good idea to discharge a weapon in residential neighborhood. Call animal control and tell them that your neighbor's pit bull keeps escaping and running at large. Animal control may impound the dog or cite your neighbor but they will give them time to fix the problem. I suggest doing anything you can on your side of the fence (such as putting up some wire fencing) to prevent the dog getting into your yard. Until you have secured your yard, I suggest disabling the dog door to avoid your dog going out unsupervised. Keep calling animal control - the squeaky wheel will get the oil.
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You cannot simply shoot a dog just because it is in your back yard. If the dog poses a menacing threat to you or other persons in your back yard, you are justified in using reasonable force including shooting the dog to save a human. However, if you shoot the dog under the wrong circumstances, you may invite criminal charges against you. It is definitely in your best interest to make a record by contacting Animal Control and informing them about every instance involving the neighbor's dog coming unto your property. You should also speak to your neighbor in a cordial way and express your concerns about the dangers posed by the dogs and the inadequate means of corralling the dog. Confirm your conversation in a letter. If you have children in your home, inform the authorities and the neighbor in your letter. You should photograph how the dog is corralled and from where he escapes your neighbor's yard. If possible, record the dog on your property. Avoid making statements about shooting the dog as these statements could be misconstrued and used against you in future litigation. Be cordial and persistent. You will eventually get your neighbor to listen to you. If not, and there are enough instances, you can always file a lawsuit against your neighbor claiming that the dog is a nuisance; and seeking to abate the nuisance. Best of luck!
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