published Friday, March 26th, 2010

Car-eating dog set free - Video

by Monica Mercer
Audio clip

Sherry Paty

Sure, rowdy dogs chew up furniture all the time. But cars? It still sounds absurd to the owner of a pit bull mix who did exactly that.

"I didn't think there would actually be bumpers missing from the car," Michael Emerling said with a smile and slight air of disbelief as he discussed his dog Winston, who's been held for the last two weeks at the McKamey Animal Center.

On March 14, Winston left four cars -- two of them Chattanooga police patrol vehicles -- with flat tires and at least one missing bumper because of his aggression.

Mr. Emerling and his mother, Nancy Emerling, said they planned to take Winston home Thursday after a court hearing and felt lucky that he'd have a chance to go through court-ordered obedience training.

Chattanooga City Judge Sherry Paty said she will drop the citation for Winston being a "potentially dangerous dog" after six months if training is successful and no other problems occur.

Winston has been a "model prisoner" at McKamey, their lawyer said.

"Actually, he'd been a model pet up until that Sunday," Mr. Emerling noted, still baffled by Winston's actions.

So what made Winston go wild, chewing through two fences to break free and forcing police officers to try to subdue him with pepper spray and, when that didn't work, a Taser?

  • photo
    Contributed File Photo Winston, who attacked a police car and other vehicles, now must go to obedience school.

No one is exactly sure, but Ms. Emerling said it could have been the blue lights of a police car in the parking lot next to Mann's Welding Co. on Workman Road where the attack began.

Whatever it was, attorney Jim Anderson said, it made Winston tear out of captivity like a "prisoner in a World War II German death camp."

"The obedience training is going to be more like anger management," Mr. Anderson joked.

Emotions were a little more serious just minutes before at the court hearing, where Judge Paty cringed at other possible outcomes of the incident.

"If it were a person or a child (attacked), it could have been devastating," Judge Paty said. "I don't even want the remote possibility of that happening."

Continue reading by following these links to related stories:

Article: Car-eating dog to go to court

Article: Dog rescued after fall down storm drain

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hcirehttae said...

Judge Paty is a thoughtful, judicious person who has a tough job, and her decision will be second-guessed by a lot of people. This is a tough call. I think her judgment was temperate and responsible in this instance, but didn't go far enough. I hope the court system will follow up this case correctly and not trust to the "honor system," as is so often done with judicial orders of all types.

Some people watching the video have said the dog was "playing with" the bumper, not aggressively attacking it, which is a plausible interpretation. But if the dog were holding onto a person in that fashion, it would not have let go and a lot of damage would be done by the person trying to escape. Some dogs have a strong instinct to grab and hold on, and this dog appears to be one. If a person were involved, there's also a strong possibility that the other dogs would have gotten involved, whether in a "playful" or "aggressive" manner. That has happened in many cases, though not all, where dogs attack humans for no apparent reason; it is attributed to pack instinct and the owners are always surprised after the fact.

I'm neutral toward dogs, neither a lover nor a hater. I'm not neutral toward public safety. I believe people have an absolute right to walk or drive down the street without being attacked by dogs. Period.

I'm gonna go ahead and say, "I told you so" in advance, because I don't believe that most dogs behaving this way do so only one time in their lives. This dog will be back, and it will not be "America's Funniest Police Videos" next time. This dog needs a lifestyle change, like a relocation out of the urban environment, not an anger management program. Once they've tasted bumper, they won't go back. Dogs cannot enroll in 12-step programs and come out the other side as Quaker pacifists. It may be true that on the Internet nobody knows it's a dog, but when it's got ahold of someone's leg in real life and won't let go, that's a different story.

March 26, 2010 at 8:19 a.m.
CLL said...

Pit bulls are illegal in many parts of the country. A good law, indeed.

March 26, 2010 at 9:47 a.m.
Smoke said...

I'm sorry but this is worth a good laugh. What dog doesn't enjoy a good pig skin? Good boy Fido. Sit.

March 26, 2010 at 10:59 a.m.
bulldog said...

After watching the video I have a new opinion about the role the police had in this. The cop car that was getting chewed on could have left several times and didn't. Did anyone really pay attention to the dog, he was playing not attacking. Go back and watch it again, don't take my word for it. His tail is up and wagging and the barks that you hear are happy barks. A dog attacking doesn't sound that way. Have you ever played tug a war with a dog? You have one end of the rope and he has the other. What happens next, you pull and he pulls and back and forth you go. What did the cop do? He pulled and pushed back and forth with the dog just like a game. Those dogs were only having fun and the damage could have been less if the police had handled the situation correctly. I bet any of the officers could have got out and called the dogs they would have stopped. That is what I would have done. Let me guess, you are thinking yeah right. I bet you would have got out. And I say that people are just afraid of a big dog for no reason in most cases. I have a 225 lb rottweiler so I get to see first hand how uneducated most people are about big dogs. To many people have little yapper ankle bitter dogs. You would think the police would be able to tell the difference between a mad attacking dog and a dog just having a good time. This whole mess is more the cops fault than the dog. I hope at the least the cop is getting dog biscuits and chew toys at work and maybe a bark or two when he walks by. What a shame.

March 26, 2010 at 1:53 p.m.
dianeatdogtrain said...

-uhhhhh, i'm thinking the poe-leeese car COULDA outrun the dog, iffen the the woo ossifer wanted to.

and yes, the dog was havin' fun. no bout adout it.

but, otoh -- i'm having a good deal of trouble imagining a

225# rottnweiler<< who isn't too obese to walk.

mebbe thass just me.

March 27, 2010 at 11:16 p.m.
obviousman said...

I guess now we know what happens when the dog catches the car.

March 30, 2010 at 10:21 a.m.
YagamiLight said...

Luckily they were released.

June 9, 2011 at 10:23 p.m.
YagamiLight said...

They are pretty strong. Now that police car needs to be restored.

June 9, 2011 at 10:24 p.m.
KennyRogers said...

These dogs actually ripped off the Bumpers & Bumper Guards off this car? Fortunately the police officers didn't shoot them.

June 9, 2011 at 10:31 p.m.
Dog_Fri3nd1 said...

Thankfully the dog was not put down because of that attack. It would be a shame if dogs were killed because of unexplained violent behaviour. I hope that it was able to learn some obedience and not cause panic to the public anymore.

February 7, 2012 at 11:45 p.m.
Dog_Fri3nd1 said...

Dogs like him should really go through these obedience courses. I am afraid to think what might happen if passing babies or kids attract the attention of these wild dogs. The owner should also play a part in ensuring their discipline.

Sherwin -

February 22, 2012 at 4:11 a.m.
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