As far as process serving clichés go, there really aren’t many that are perpetuated quite as much as that of an angry dog biting the butt of a suited server. It’s the kind of thing everyone’s seen dozens of times over in all manner of movies and cartoons, but while it’s all delightfully dramatic and at times hilarious to watch, there’s actually a good deal of truth in what’s portrayed.
Of course, the actual drama of it all isn’t nearly the same in real life, but dogs are in general something of a thorn in the side of every process server in the game. In fact, more often than not it is the dogs any given recipient may keep that represent the biggest single threat of all to the servers – way above and beyond that of the recipients themselves.
Why is this the case? It’s simple really – people have a documented history and can be profiled with research and careful study. By contrast, a dog is in essence a completely unpredictable and unfamiliar animal that has the potential to behave in any given way without warning and without any provocation.
The chances of any recipient actually ordering their dog to bite or even scare a process server is pretty low – this is wholly against the law and not in the interests of an already troubled individual. However, when and where there are dogs loose in the premises or its surroundings, it’s perfectly possible to find yourself on the receiving end of a frightening encounter with man’s best friend.
And if the intended recipient happens to be out at the time, this is in fact the worst case scenario and calls for very careful action.
Minimising the Risk of Dangerous Dog Attacks
Sadly, there isn’t a blueprint in the world for any set of actions that guarantee you won’t be attacked by any given dog – all animals, environments and situations are 100% unique. So while the following tips aren’t to be taken as gospel, they’ve certainly helped a fair few process servers hold onto their rear-ends over the years when faced with doggy dangers:
1 – Beware of the Dog
First of all, if there’s a sign up warning you of a dog on the loose, then you have really nobody else to blame if it turns out to be telling you the truth. To enter a property guarded by a dog is never a good idea, regardless of how it may seem like the only way of progressing. Assess the obvious risk before opening the gate.
2 – Only Run When Appropriate
If you’re a couple of feet from the gate when you notice a dog bounding your way from 50 paces, there’s no harm in legging it out of the gate and closing it. By contrast, if the dog is only a few feet away and the gate is too far to reach in a split-second, running might well be the worst thing to do.
3 – Slow Movements
Following on from the above, any fast or sudden movements you make will probably startle the dog and could set-off an attack. If you’re already too close to the dog to run away, you’re better-off holding still and letting him come to you.
4 – Beware the Stare
It’s important to keep looking in the dog’s direction and to not turn your back on him, but at the same time it’s a good idea not to make too much direct contact. In the dog world this can be interpreted as a sign of aggression, so while looking in the dog’s general direction is important, try not to peer directly into his eyes too much.
5 – Talk to Him
Shouting, wailing or crying won’t help at all, but it’s surprising how far you might get with a soft, calm and soothing voice. You might even sound like one of his family members, so it’s always worth trying to reason with the dog by just saying anything that comes to mind in a nice tone – and this doesn’t include commands.
6 – Secret Weapons
And finally, for the everyday process server in Newcastle, there’s no more powerful weapon in their daily arsenal than a bag of doggy treats. In some cases, even the meanest dogs are powerless to resist a biscuit or chewy treat of some description and can end up like putty in your hands in a matter of seconds. Of course you can’t put too much faith in doggy treats or rely on them alone, but in terms of hidden aces-in-the-whole to carry with you, there’s little better.