I'm still catching up from some personal and professional stuff going on, but there are a couple of fatal dog attacks that I need to get logged.
I will start this as I start most of these discussions by noting that fatal dog attacks are VERY rare. With 75 million owned dogs in the US, and 300 million people, there are extremely few dog attacks in this country. However, like almost everything in our lives, there is some risk with dogs, and when these rare incidents occur it's always important to look at the social and human circumstances that led up to the attacks so we can better learn how to prevent them.
In Effingham, SC, 5-year old Arianna Merrbach was tragically killed in late June outside a relative's home. The young girl wandered outside unattended and walked up to the dog (described as a "pit bull mix") that was chained up in the back yard of the relative's home where a neighbor said the dogs were "usually" tied up. According to reports, the young girl was familiar with the dogs (there were 3 on the property).
It has been reported often that tethering, as a primary form of containment is not an ideal situation for a dog -- particularly if the dog is exposed to predators or where the containment can lead to frustration and poor socialization. It is also well-documented that children generally lack the ability to recognize warning signals that are given by dogs and thus, their interactions with dogs should always be supervised.
The poverty rate in Florence (where the Effingham zip code falls) is 26.6% -- which is significantly higher than the national rate of about 15%. While poverty is not an indicator of irresponsible dog ownership, major dog attacks do tend to happen in areas of high poverty where other social problems exist.
The story was picked up in only about 10 local news sources.
My heart goes out to the Merrbach family.
In Liberty County, TX, 63 year old Linda Oliver was found dead after being attacked by a dog. According to the reports, the dog wandered onto the family's property 2 weeks ago and Oliver, and her husband, began feeding the stray dog.
However, one morning Linda went out to feed the stray dog, and the stray began to attack the couple's small Dachsund. Oliver tried to rescue her own dog from the attack, and the stray dog turned on her and began attacking her -- biting her many times.
Oliver was able to get away and called her husband to tell her she'd been bitten but she sounded weak at the time and then the phone went dead. By the time authorities arrived, Oliver died from blood loss due to her injuries. When authorities arrived, the dog was very aggressive and charged at the officers and they shot the dog.
The stray dog was described as a large, long-haired black and white dog and has been called both a "Labrador Retriever Mix" and a "mastiff-Rottweiler mix". The reality is that as a stray, it was likely just a large, mixed-breed mongrel.
The story is tragic and shows why it is important to be cautious around stray, unknown dogs that likely lack proper socialization and let authorities take percautions about with the dog's temperament. My heart goes out to the Oliver family -- who were just looking to do what they thought was the right thing.
The storywas picked up by 30 news sources. The area where this attack happened has a poverty rate of 38% -- 2 1/2 times that national average.