Dog Attacks raise concern

Published 6:04 pm Monday, March 9, 2009

By By MaryClaire Foster
Recent dog attacks in the county have raised safety concerns with residents, but officials say with the right precautions, risk of an attack is largely reduced.
Environmental Director for Public Health in Escambia County Area 9 Chad Kent said that there were 14 reported dog bites in January and February.
Renee Jones, director of the Humane Society of Escambia County, said they deal with dog bites weekly and the reason many of them occur is because of animals being unaltered, not spayed or neutered.
Jones said not altering your animals creates an aggressive environment when they reach sexual maturity.
She said a male dog who otherwise has not previously showed signs of aggressive behavior can do so when it is protecting a mate who is in heat, is pregnant or has recently given birth.
She said what is most important is to fully learn about your dog.
Jones said when buying a dog from a breeder to pay close attention to its parents temperaments, that the puppies would likely have the same when grown.
She said with all dogs it is important to take special care to train them to behave, but in some cases, with certain breeds, you “have to be prepared to bear the burden of containment” when your breed is known to have aggressive tendencies.
Jones said Rottweilers are ranked as the No. 1 dog for human fatalities and German Shepherds, Chows and Dobermans are listed in the Top Five also.
Jones said pit bulls, which she owns, have been misrepresented and are more prone to aggression to other animals, particularly small ones, but even then it is still necessary for the owner to take special care to control their dog.
Jones said many of the previously listed breeds are not adopted from the humane society because of their known aggression, but that the facility would not allow the adoption of dogs with aggression problems.
Kent said that this time of year when the weather is becoming warmer marks an increase in animal bites because people, especially children, are spending more time outdoors. Kent added that after storms is a time of high occurrences of animal attacks.
In addition to taking measures to keep yourself safe, Kent said it is extremely important to have your animals properly vaccinated to protect themselves and people.
He said if an animal is seen acting strangely to contact animal control, but if the decision is made by an owner to put an animal down themselves due to rabies suspicion, the owner should not damage the head or brain of the animal so that it may be properly tested.

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