Due to a dozen other things going on right now, I'm a little behind, but do need to get caught up on a couple of fatal dog bite incidents that have happened over the past couple of weeks that I've not had a chance to report.
As I always note, I'm not the biggest fan of writing up these stories. Dogs are wonderful animals that bring so much value to our lives. However, unfortunately, sometimes a series of the wrong set of circumstances can lead one to attack. And sometimes, although very rarely compared to the 75 million owned dogs in this country, these attacks can be fatal. When they do happen, it is essential to look at the entirety of the circumstances in determining why these events took place.
Here are two such incidents over the past couple of weeks:
Beau Rutledge was a two year old boy that lived in southern Fulton County just outside of Atlanta. The boy and his family lived in a townhome together with their pet dog.
However, two weeks ago, the boy's mother went to the bathroom and left the boy and the dog alone together. At some point while the mother was in the bathroom, the dog; described by the media as a "pit bull", mauled the young boy, killing him. The causes of the attack are very unclear....and there were a LOT of missing pieces to the puzzle based on the media reports.
When the mother came out of the bathroom and saw the child and apparently 'knew instantly" that the boy was dead. No more details were given. Meanwhile, it is surprising that the mother was apparently in the other room and didn't hear any type of commotion that would have alerted her to the attack.
Because there were no witnesses to the attack and the mother was in the other room, there is no way to quite know what happened to lead up to the attack. Toddlers can be very unpredictable in their behavior and can, intentionally, or unintentionally injure dogs -- whether by pulling tails, ears, jumping up and down on them, or falling on them and causing a reactionary bite that, depending on the location and size of the child, can be fatal.
Young children simply do not understand canine behavior and warning signs, and thus, are going to be unable to determine when a dog is uncomfortable or hurt by a situation. Because of this, toddlers should always, ALWAYS be supervised when around a dog. Last year, at least 14 of the 17 fatal dog bites involving children under the age of 6 happened while the toddler or infant was unsupervised (2 of the 3 others where it is unclear if the child was attended or not at the time).
This story made a lot of headlines in the Georgia area. Nice job of CBS Atlanta to call on an area expert to talk about dog behavior and what can lead to horrific tragedies like this one.
My heart goes out to the Rutledge family.
In Coschocton, OH, thirty five year old Rachael Honabarger was attacked last week outside of her home by her own dog. A neighbor who was driving by right after the initial attack saw that Honabarger was in trouble and rushed to help pull the woman's 3 year old German Shepherd off of her. The victim was flown to Grant Medical Center in Columbus with what were described as "severe" neck injuries.
The victim died from her wounds two days later.
Not much is known about what may have started the attack -- and likely there will never be a clear explanation. A neighbor who lives nearby notes that the dog has "always been very aggressive" and "guarded the yard and the house."
Socialization is an important element for dogs -- and if dogs are not well socialized, they can often become aggressive. When your dog shows signs of aggression, it is essential that you seek the help of an area trainer to help you with the dog. Major attacks like this are seldom a dog's first sign of aggression.
My heart goes out to the friends and family of this young woman.
This story was in a lot of media outlets as well. Cochocton has a poverty rate of 16.2% -- so a bit above the national average, although it's unclear if this played a role at all in the tragedy.