Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Dog Bite Prevention Week

*a post by the mom

A few weeks ago a post was made on Facebook by a mother whose child had been bitten by a dog that went to work with it's owner. I don't know enough to make any judgments about the incident, but it did get several bloggers talking about dog bites and safety issues. Four bloggers have joined together to write separate posts about it this week. It does seem appropriate since this is Dog Bite Prevention Week.

I’m lucky that the rescue that I currently volunteer for is no-kill. In fact, our rescue pulls dogs from the kill list at our local county dog shelter. I also still work with dogs doing transports. That being said, I am not a trainer and I am not an expert. But I do have experience and that perspective is where this post starts.
bloodhound on the way from a high kill shelter 
to a foster home through breed rescue

Prior to this rescue, I volunteered for the local humane society. I didn’t work with the adoptable dogs on the floor unless it was to go out in public to an adoption event or special event (which I did a lot). At the shelter itself, I worked with the dogs in the back of the building. These could be dogs that just came in to the shelter, they could be dogs with issues or they could be dogs that were part of humane cases based on abuse, neglect or dog fighting.

What I don’t think a lot of people realize about certain organizations is that they mostly have a “one strike” policy for dogs and aggression. If these groups even suspect a dog is even a little aggressive, they won’t be deemed adoptable and will more than likely be put down. What this means for dogs that are “adoptable” and taken to events is that they MUST be on their best behavior. One misstep and their lives can be forfeit.

When I take a dog out from our rescue to an event, my first priority is ALWAYS going to be the safety of the dog. And knowing this, the public is by extension safer. This means keeping an eye on body language but also keeping a close eye on the public and making sure there are safe interactions. Keeping my dog safe keeps everyone safe.

I have had to ask more than one person to not touch a dog that we have had out because of something that I have seen from the dog while out in public (and yes, I reported that back to the shelter to make sure the behavior was noted and no one was caught off guard in the future).

Yes, asking people not to pet a dog at an event can be irritating for all involved. However, it is to protect the public from a possible bite. It is also to protect that dog from the consequences of what could happen if a bite occurs. I have taken dogs out of events if they act frighten or overwhelmed. Again – my priority is the safety and well being of the dog. That is my job as a volunteer. And honestly, the behavior of a dog at a public event is not an indicator of how the dog will do in a home. Most of these events had several rescue groups, with LOTS of people and LOTS of dogs.

That being said, as a member of the public at any event, please keep some things in mind:
1. Don’t approach a dog without making yourself known first. I don’t care if it is your friend’s dog or a dog with a rescue. Startling any animal puts everyone at risk.
2. Ask the handler if you can approach and pet the dog.
3. If the handler says no, PLEASE respect that. It is for your safety and the well being of the dog. I’ve had more than one person respond with “I have a dog” or “I work with dogs”. That’s great. But not with THIS dog. All animals are individuals and deserve to be respected and treated as such.

All this being said, please don't ever think that a dog that acts nervous in public or at an event is less than adoptable. I will be the first to admit that crowds make me nervous as well.

Additional reading: Safety First by Debby McMullen

This post is part of a collaboration between bloggers. Please check out the following blogs for additional posts this week:
Monday - Fidose of Reality; Wednesday - Mr N the Terrier; Thursday - Miss Molly Says; Friday - Savannah's Paw Tracks


  1. Excellent post! Plus, I've watched a bazillion dog shows on TV, although we do not have a canine in our home.

  2. Great info here! Whenever I am at an event with dogs, I always ask if I can pet the dog first. It just seems like common sense, but apparently it's not.

  3. I have a family member who is having some problems with her dog. We don't know why this has started happening because he is very lovable with us. Thanks for the information.

    1. as with cats, have a vet do a complete check up. then have them write down when it happens....they may start to see a pattern

  4. Some good words. When I see a dog I want to pet, I keep my hands to myself until I see the dog's reaction to me and hear what the owner has to say about it. You would think people who 'have a dog' or 'work with dogs' would know that each animal is different, and so are its reactions. I work in graphic design, but saying 'I have a job' doesn't qualify me to start working on someone's car.

  5. Such a good post and a stellar reminder to people. I have a reply on my dog bite post from a mom of human kids. Her child :waddled" off while she was busy and ended up getting bit by a dog. Yes, that will happen. You need to watch your kids at all times. Thanks for this post and I am updating mine, sharing, and hope folks take heed and do as you do: Respect when a person asks you not to pet their dog.

  6. it really is a shame that people think that they are the exception before they are told they can be an exception (since I'm sometimes an exception I kinda had to put that in there) They rarely realize that the animal's life is actually on the line if things go wrong.

  7. My human's boyfriend is very foolish around dogs - he thinks he is the dog whisperer! He kind of is, but nobody is perfect. My human (who rarely goes near any dogs because she's just not interested in them) wishes he'd be a little more cautious.

  8. all three of my sons have been bitten while delivering papers. It was bad. No one ever took responsibility for their animal. None of them like dogs to this day. Can't say I blame them.

  9. Excellent advice. No one should try to approach or pet any animal..dog, cat, ferret, bunny, whatever...without first asking.

  10. Awesome post! I am uncomfortable in crowds also so I can only imagine the stress and anxiety some dogs feel. It is a perfect combination for an accidental bite. Whereas at home on in a more controlled environment they may be just fine. Handlers and the people need to be aware of this. Thank you so much for helping spread the word!

  11. Great post, and very good advice ! Claire was told to ask for permission before petting any animal since she was a child. Purrs

  12. It's great you take dogs out of adoption events if they're overwhelmed. I see way too many dogs at events who look stressed out to be there!

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  15. We need a lot of posts like this! People make arrogant and stupid assumptions, and it a dog or a cat's life that is at risk. * spit spit * Grrrrrr

    @ Dash Kitten

  16. Excellent points in your post, thanks! For the last 7 years I've volunteered at a shelter that isn't no kill so I'm very aware that any display of aggression towards people or another dog can be detrimental to a shelter dog. As for my own dogs, it irritates the heck out of me when other people just walk their dogs right over to mine to "say hello". Just because you have a friendly dog and my dogs are friendly dogs that doesn't mean you should unexpectedly approach without stopping and asking permission first! If my dogs are lounging at an outdoor café they're not expecting a strange dog & person to approach them. If they're happily chewing on a toy or chew stick a the moment, that friendly dog becomes a threat to their cherished possession. Please stay back until an owner gives the ok to approach & sets their dog up for a meet & greet!
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

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