They're almost always preventable -- but this one has just about every preventable warning sign in the book.
Over the weekend, 17 month old Dylan Andres wandered away from his home as his mother was unpacking groceries from the car. Dylan apparently darted over to a neighbor's yard where a Rottweiler was chained up in the yard. The owner of the dogs was not home.
There were no immediate witnesses to the attack, but the family heard the commotion from the attack and ran to find the dog attacking the young child. The child later succumbed to the injuries.
The zip code where this took place has a poverty rate of 28% - double the national average. According to the video report, the dog was bought by the owner to be a guard dog for the owner's lawn equipment and was always left chained outside.
The incident is a tragedy --and my heart goes out to the family. While dogs do tend to be very safe animals and a major part of our lives, things can go awry when humans play a role in the attack. I've mentioned a lot in this blog over the past 6 years the impact tethering as a primary form of containment can have on dog behavior. It's also important to note the importance of a dog's function -- whether the dog is a well-socialized family pet, or an unsocialized yard dog, or a dog that is actually trained and encouraged to be aggressive toward strangers (which would appear to be the situation in this case as the dog was specifically bought for guarding purposes). And then, there is the role of the unsupervised toddler wandering into the neighbor's yard and up to the chained dog. There is no limit to the amount of dangers that exist for unsupervised wandering 17 month olds.
It's a tragedy to be sure...but an avoidable one if people choose to focus on the circumstances surrounding the attack instead of the type of dog involved.
The story was picked up by 41 media outlets.