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Four Kids and a Dog By Elizabeth Bottiaux
Four Kids and a Dog By Elizabeth Bottiaux

By Elizabeth Bottiaux

One of our family members is a furry, four-legged, rescued friend. My kids love dogs. I grew up with dogs. We are dog people. But, our dog does not go with us everywhere. Dog owner entitlement seems to be on the rise.

As my two little boys and I recently pulled into the parking lot of a local restaurant I noticed the older couple on the patio with their medium-sized dog lying next to them. I didn’t think much about it. It’s become quite common to see dogs of all sizes and breeds with their owners inside stores, on restaurant patios and in most public areas.

We ordered and found a table outside, on the patio. I quickly dashed inside to retrieve condiments, drinks and napkins. I was inside for less than one minute, when my older son came running in to tell me his brother was crying. I returned to find the dog owner holding my five-year-old’s hand and apologizing. Confused, I immediately assumed that he’d gotten scared while I was away and had started crying. Just as the mom guilt washed over me, the woman explained that her dog had bitten my son.

I did my best to remain calm. All eyes were on me. I could feel the weight of an entire restaurant watching me. Waiting. I hugged my scared little guy. I pulled up his shorts to check the chomp. There was a definite bite mark. Skin was broken in a couple of areas and hints of blood threatened to surface. The area was already bruising. There would be no trip to the ER, thankfully.

The dog owners apologized and recounted their version of what had occurred. My unassuming son had headed to the nearby trash can. He’d started out walking, then had run the last few steps to the trash. The startled dog lashed out at him.

The owners said their dog was known to have certain fears and would randomly lunge at people. This aggressive animal with a checkered past was brought to an enclosed area with many people nearby. My son, who had in no way interacted with or provoked this animal, and was minding his own business, was attacked.

An onlooker stopped by the patio as she was leaving the restaurant. To my surprise she was not concerned by the fact that my young son had been bitten. No. She was there to console… the dog! She cooed over the dog, while petting it’s head. Really? My child was attacked and this woman wanted to soothe the attacker! Unreal. When did furry friends become more important than humans?

Before leaving the restaurant, I obtained the dog owner’s contact information and reported the incident to the manager. Although, obviously unenforced, the manager confirmed that dogs are prohibited on the patio. It was negligent of these owners to bring their aggressive dog to an enclosed restaurant. I suspect they’ll continue doing so. The next day, I reported the bite to Animal Control. Contrary to popular belief, nothing much happens when a bite occurs and is reported.

Children should be taught to always ask the owner’s permission before petting a dog. If an owner says they’d rather not let my child pet their dog, I respect—even commend—the owner for setting that boundary. For safety and sanitary reasons, dogs simply shouldn’t be allowed everywhere with humans. Authentic, card-carrying service dogs are a different matter.

Dog ownership isn’t just a privilege. It’s a responsibility. I’m grateful the bite didn’t deter my son’s love of dogs. It could’ve been worse. But, it wasn’t.

Elizabeth Bottiaux is mom to four small humans, ages 5, 7, 9 and 11. She’s a San Clemente resident and has lived in Orange County for the past 16 years. She publishes a blog,, about family life in our tri-city area.




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comments (2)

  • I understand your situation am so sorry this happened to your son.

    We have three daughters and a little dog. Our dog is a rescue also. While he is known to respond to a territorial threat response with barking, as he is very protective of us, he is the kind that will end up licking you to death.

    Sadly, this is a situation where poor judgment by people enabled this. The people that most likely mistrained or mistreated the dog before it was rescued. Then people that own the dog now, should not have taken their dog to a public place if he is known to lunge at people, particularly as it is not permitted.

    The people that own and work at the restaurant should not have allowed the dog to be there if it is not allowed. That being said often nowadays people are falsely representing their pets as service animals which is reprehensible.

    The laws have changed and people are gaming the system now. It poses a safety risk when untrained dogs might actually hurt someone or a trained dog. Businesses are limited to asking two questions now “Is this a service animal?”, and “What is it trained to do?. That is about it.

    They can also post signs stating that “fraudulently misrepresenting service animals is a misdemeanor”. They can also publish a whistleblower number with that sign so patrons can rat people out. That is about all that can be done now.

    These phonies, like the ones misusing laws for their fake sober-living homes, are jerks that will ruin things for people with disabilities that need these laws.

    I had a situation where we were at PetCo looking for a harness with our dog and then wanted to stop in at CostCo to get something while I was right next door, instead of having to drive back another time. Again, our dog is 12 pounds and small. So I was heading into the store with him in the shopping cart. They would not let us in. Instead, they directed us to put the dog in the car on a hot summer day. I pointed out how absurd a comment that was and that my dog is well behaved, not a giant dog, and would remain in the cart while I picked up some medicine. They wouldn’t have it so I called the corporate offices the next day, I explained the poor judgment and policies, and they apologized and suggested that better training was required.

    While CostCo lost some credibility in my mind because of this the point from their corporate offices is valid. Better training about dogs in public is needed for the business owners, dog owners and general public.

  • As a mother of two boys (2 and 4) and as a dog owner, I really appreciated this article. If it had been my kid, I would have called animal control. I completely agree with your belief regarding what seems to be the majority of dog owners. My main gripe is the SC farmer’s market. Is it really necessary to bring your 5 (yes, five!!) dogs to the market with you? What about your 120 lb. husky? I’m not really a fan of environments that attempt to blend dogs, children, and food. It just never ends well. I’m sorry that happened to your son, and I applaud your patient and respectful attitude with those idiot owners. I love dogs; I just don’t like their owners.

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