For all of its appeal to tourists, the Las Vegas area has a big problem. The serious crime rate is very high. The latest official FBI crime statistics, which can lag by up to two years, puts it at 849 incidents for every 100,000 residents. The national average is 373, so the Las Vegas rate is more than double.
Homicides are one component of serious crime (others include rape, robbery and aggravated assault). In 2017, the Las Vegas area had 199 homicides. That includes the 58 persons killed in the October 1 massacre along the Las Vegas Strip. By my rough reckoning, that works out to a local homicide rate of 10.0 for every 100,000 residents. The latest national average is 5.3, so the murder rate is almost double.
So far, this is all about humans. But I’m here to write about murders among dogs. Dog on dog crime, to be specific. At Dog Fancier’s Park, the off-leash dog park in East Las Vegas I visit regularly with my New To Las Vegas Basset Hound, I’m aware of at least two dogs in recent months who were murdered–yes, killed–by other dogs. Owners of victim and perp supposedly were nearby.
Now, the county-owned park, off E. Flamingo Rd. along S. Stephanie St., is quite large, maybe the biggest dog park in Clark County. Across its 12 acres there are five runs, running water, impressive stadium lighting for night-time visits (when summertime temperatures might be down to 100 degrees), poop bag dispenses and even bathrooms for humans. Walking around, Dog Fancier’s Park doesn’t seem like a dangerous place. Each day the facility draws hundreds of dogs, and their owners.
So statistically, maybe two killings aren’t so much. But it’s just one venue, covering 0.000002% of Clark County. Most of Las Vegas seems safe for humans–if it weren’t for those damn FBI statistics.
The first dog-murder case I heard about was on a late-afternoon day in the fall. It involved two families that were friends and three animals, a Chihuahua owned by one family and a pair of Pit Bulls owned by the other. The Chihuahua, as the breed is sometimes wont to do, started barking in the face of one of the Pit Bulls. At some point, the Pit Bull lunged–as that breed is sometimes wont to do–grabbed the chihuahua’s head in its mouth and started shaking. The other Pit Bull may also have latched onto the Chihuahua’s body.
End of Chihuahua.
The families quickly left the park carting the corpus delecti and the two suspects. I spoke with a witness less than a hour later who described the incident in detail. The witness was still shaken from what he had seen.
The second dog-murder case I heard about, maybe a month later, was similar, with a barking Chihuahua, except that it involved only one Pit Bull. The outcome, though, was the same: a dead Chihuahua. My informant was someone who had witnessed the incident a day or two earlier.
I have no idea if anyone made a complaint to animal control authorities in either case about a vicious dog. But I was told that a complaint actually was lodged over another incident at Dog Fancier’s Park in which a dog owner–a human–actually killed a dog.
As I heard the story, the owner was unhappy when his dog was mounted by a suitor. So rather than pull the dog off, the owner delivered a hard kick to its head. It’s possible the owner then delivered a second kick after the dog went down. The owner then hurried off with his dog, backing his vehicle out of the parking lot so it would be harder to see the license plate. But there were witnesses with cellphone cameras who got the tag, and they contacted authorities.
The injured dog was still alive but had to be put down a few days later as a result of the incident. Self defense or excessive force? I don’t know what became of the complaint.
It is an article of faith among dog owners that the conduct of dogs–other persons’ dogs, at least–reflects more the character of the owner rather than the nature of the breed. If that’s true, then I probably shouldn’t be surprised at some of the goings-on at Dog Fancier’s Park in Las Vegas.