spcaLA in the News
By Mateo Melero and Gordon Tokumatsu
Listen the audio version below:
By Kevin Ferguson
By Madeline Bernstein
By now, you have seen the amazing video. A family cat pounces at and chases away a neighbor’s dog, which was viciously attacking the four year old boy that owns the cat. Attention has focused on the cat’s unexpected behavior. But questions are being raised about the dog’s sudden attack, which seemed to come out of nowhere.
“He’s never done anything like that” says the boy’s father, adding that the orangy brown mutt belongs to the family next door. He is usually behind the fence, he adds, but “has always been very responsive to the owners’ demands, except this time”. The boy needed over 12 stitches to close two large bites.
“It happens,” says the Insurance Information Institute’s Loretta Worters. Insurance companies in California received almost two thousand bite claims last year, costing over $64 million, the highest of any state. The average cost per claim climbed more than 45% in the last decade, and encounters with otherwise friendly dogs account for more than a third of liability costs for homeowners insurance.
“Any dog, of any size is capable of biting” says Kris VanOver, trainer at SPCA Los Angeles. He can’t comment specifically on the Bakersfield incident, but there is one glaring thing that comes across in the video.
“You don’t want to set up your dog to fail” explains VanOver, “probably the first and foremost thing that you should do as an owner, is always walk your dog on a leash, and never, never let it run lose”.
SPCA LA works overtime to make sure the animals they adopt out are more than friendly…they have to be socialized. Then, comes training the owner, and the people they encounter. Kids love to pet dogs, and sometimes, they run up to pets, which can react to sudden, loud, startling behavior.
“Ask the owner if it’s ok to pet the dog”, says the trainer, and “if they say it’s ok, bend down rather than lean over the dog”. It’s advisable to let the animal first smell your closed hand, and after, if the dog wags its tail and seems friendly and interested, rub them on the chest, or under the muzzle.
What about a dog, unleashed, coming out of nowhere?
“If you have nothing to protect yourself with, or climb on, keep in mind you are probably not going to be able to outrun a dog” say experts. VanOver teaches this behavior to children: “think tree” he says. Stand real still, hold your tight fists over the front of your neck and don’t move”. If the dog pounces, he adds “think rock” as he demonstrates by bending in his elbows, using his hands to cover the front and back of his neck, and rolling into a round rock. “Knees up to your chest or neck if you can, and make yourself a tight, round ball, protecting your neck and face” is what he likes to say.
Has he ever seen anything like what the cat did in the Bakersfield video?
“No” he laughs as he shakes his head….”never”.
You can get a lot more information about avoiding dog bites and other animal related information by going to spcaLA.com
By Christina Gonzalez