I mentioned in last month’s column that because of our copy deadlines for YCM, topics that are in the news at the time these articles are being composed may not always be on the readers’ minds by the time the magazine is printed and distributed. As I write today, though, I’m certain that our discussion will be both pertinent and important regardless of when you may be reading it. I will do my best to not be offensive or seem too “dogmatic” in my opinions, but please understand that as I have practiced as a veterinarian for the past 34 years, I have developed a perspective on pet relationships based on both training and experience.
Our conversation this month will focus on safe and loving relationships with pets. Because it is prompted by two pit bull attacks which occurred on the same day, I will concentrate on dog care and safety, but the principles we will share apply to any pet and any pet relationship.
First the situations: Two days ago, a client brought in their severely injured dog. Their Golden Retriever, restrained in their own rural York County yard by their “Invisible Fence”, had been attacked by a “Pit Bull” type dog. The attack lasted several minutes, and the offending dog did not stop the attack until it was scared away by a warning shotgun blast aimed into the air. Their pet required hours of emergency care and reconstruction surgery, but so far, she is doing well.
One hour after I came home that evening, I received a call from a friend who was assisting his neighbor in a Rock Hill subdivision. His neighbor, also a friend and client of mine, had been leash walking her own dog near her home with her two young children when another pit bull came out from its yard and began biting it. The young mother tried to break up the fight and in the process was severely injured. While her children, one of whom was also slightly injured in the incident, were still present, another neighbor also tried to get the pit bull to let go of her dog. After his efforts were unsuccessful, he used his personal firearm, killing the pit bull. I admitted the injured dog for treatment, and it is also recovering from her injuries at our office; we are hoping that an amputation will not be necessary.
Tragedies all around: One family dog, in its own yard, was very seriously injured by a dog which is still at large and whose owner is unknown. Another family will carry the physical and emotional scars of their experience for a long time. Still another family has lost their own pet.
This has been a frustrating experience for me as well. We have worked hard to help these pets recover, and I am glad that they are responding well so far. I know the families of both dogs and how upsetting these incidents have been to them. Finally, as I went online to read about the second attack, I was amazed at some of the comments made by residents about these two pit bull stories. Those comments and my personal involvement in these tragedies prompt this month’s column.
Here are some of my perspectives on these issues. Whether you agree with me or not, hopefully they will provide you some important information or at least help you develop your own opinions in the subject of pet and family safety.
I’ve shared alot of “don’t’s” so far: don’t let your dog run loose, don’t get a dog you can’t handle, don’t focus on the breed of the dog but on the behavior and actions of the dog. Here are some “do’s”:
Dog bite wounds prompt over 12 million emergency room visits every year, countless conflicts between neighbors, painful and damaging injuries to the dogs involved in fights, and, tragically, occasional human deaths. As bad as the two incidents in Rock Hill this week were, they were blessfully not as bad as they could have been.
This is a story that hopefully has fully resolved by the time this article is read. However, it is a subject that we must not allow to be forgotten. Please contact your veterinarian for resources that can help you keep your pet, your family, and your neighbors safe.