Honestly, dog fights ARE scary. But they don't happen in a vacuum, and this whole mess was caused by humans who did several things wrong and may have actually provoked the whole thing with their stupidity (no need to mention just how stupidly the gun-toting human ended this mess, is there?)
Dogs are generally are pretty good at communicating with each other according to dog rules. Anyone who spends time at a dog park knows that leashed dogs will fight much more readily than dogs who are allowed to meet on their own, where they can put a little space between themselves & the other dog, if they need to.
But when you have a fearful human on one end of the leash, the dog tied to the other end is no longer free to maneuver in his own space. A dog on a leash now has YOU to worry about too. That leash is like a telegraph line sending "FEAR" from that person to their dog.
The leashed dog in this case was a German Shepherd, a noble breed known for their keen sense of loyalty-- They do a dang good job protecting their property & people. It's very possible there was a dog fight, but my guess is that the Shepherd may have been the one fighting. What else could he do, leashed to an hysterical woman he now had to defend?
It sounds like Bear Bear was acting like huskies typically act. If you've ever watched one of our "Monday's View from the Moo" Moo-vies, you will know that husky play can look and sound an awful lot like a dogfight to the untrained observer. I suspect poor Bear was wanting to play a little husky smack-down, all in good fun. From what his neighbors have said, he was NOT an aggressive dog prone to fights. Huskies do not go around attacking people, either. They are an extremely friendly breed, and will readily walk right up to strangers. Many of them are not intimidated easily, and will hold their own if necessary. (Our Star, a true Alpha, would never start a fight, but she'd be the one to finish it. She would never walk away.)
We'll illustrate this with a Moo-vie out-take:
So, what can we learn?
1. Dogs will be dogs. If you don't understand the rules of dog behavior, learn them. (Its not that hard to learn what tails, ears, and stances mean. Then you can at least tell if a dog really is friendly or not, no matter what the owner says.)
2. If you don't understand dog park etiquette, ask about things before you barge in with your leashed dog.
THIS NEXT PART IS THE MOST IMPORTANT INFO:
(a short version in my own words.*)
3. If dogs are fighting, the best thing is do drag the one on the leash away & hook the leash around a fence or something handy, then go grab the hind legs of the other dog, lift them off the ground (like when you played "wheelbarrow") and walk it backwards in a semi-circle - they have to sidestep to keep their balance, which prevents them from turning around to bite you. . Lock it inside the gate or get someone to help you secure the dog so the two dogs cannot get to each other again.
If there are 2 people, each person should go behind a dog & lift those hind feet off the ground and walk the dog backwards in a semi circle. Usually the dogs will be so startled, they will stop fighting immediately. (I've practiced this with my own dogs in non-fight mode so I can have confidence to follow thru in case of a real fight.)
3. Under no circumstance should a gun be used to discipline a dog. (I'm pretty sure 99.99% of the population had already figured this one out)
4. Oh, and this one too, not directly dog park related, but worth considering: If you are so fearful of a place that you feel bringing a loaded weapon with you is a good idea, DON'T GO THERE AT ALL.
We'll be watching Bear's story unfold, as there were a number of things that have come out (like how the cops threatened to tazer Bear's guardian if he tried to re-enter the dogpark to go help Bear. Poor Bear laid there suffering for almost an hour before the cops "allowed" his human to come to his aid. That is just beyond comprehension.) While we can believe the shooter honestly "thought" he was genuinely in danger, he MUST be held accountable for his extremely reactionary behavior and unbelievable lack of judgement. He owes Bear Bear's family both an apology and compensation for their loss. The publicity will probably be devastating to his current life as he knows it, but, at least he's still alive, unlike poor Bear Bear. (It upsets us that people are making threats against this man & his family - yes, what he did was awful and needless, but it was a stupid decision, the guy's not out there using dogs for fighting or target practice.)
Bear Bear, you have earned your Silver Harness, we know you will be safe now to play husky smack-down to your heart's content with our furkids beyond the Rainbow Bridge.
Sending you woos & snooter kisses,
jack a-roo , miss moo, and mom
A couple sites that explain this technique:
or here at Leerberg - warning - this one has extremely graphic photos of dog bites. Including the sales pitch pics, the article begins under the 6th pic down.