Beware of strange dogs. Don’t touch dogs you don’t know. People are attacked by unfamiliar animals. These are all things we tell ourselves and our little ones. Rarely, if ever, do we tell our family members and guests to be aware of our own pets.
On December 30, 2016, a woman and her family were attacked by their own pet, bringing to light an important reminder: Even the family dog can attack. The story goes like this: The dog was in the backyard when the woman tried to put a sweater on it. The dog apparently became agitated and attacked its owner. The woman’s screams brought her husband to the backyard where the dog turned on him. The 22-year-old son of the couple ran to the backyard and ultimately stabbed the dog in the head and neck in an attempt to stop the attack.
The family was able to escape the backyard and get into the house, away from the dog. Police responded and the dog was able to gain entry into the home where two small children were located. The police tased the dog, to no avail. Eventually, the dog was caught with a catch pole and removed from the home, still highly agitated. While the family members’ wounds are serious, each will recover. The fate of the dog, Scarface, remains to be decided.
One thing is for sure, this attack by a family pet in Tampa has shed light on the fact that even the family dog can be dangerous in certain situations. Knowing how to “read” dogs can be a first step in preventing life-altering attacks. Dogs typically bite out of fear or anxiety when they feel they have no other choice. Dogs rarely bite without giving some type of warning, even though these warnings may be missed.
When a dog displays signs of anxiety or being uncomfortable in a situation, it is important to heed those signs. A dog will display several signals that it isn’t feeling quite right. When you notice these signals, you can diffuse the situation. When you ignore them, you may be bit.
Raised Paw: This is not an offer to shake hands. It is a sign that the dog is worried and would prefer to not be bothered.
Half Moon Eye: Many people fail to recognize the half moon eye. It is not normal to see the whites of a dog’s eye in most cases. Of course, the unique anatomy of a specific dog breed, such as basset hounds, may make this appearance normal. In typical cases, however, if you see the whites of a dog’s eye when you normally don’t, also known as the half-moon eye, the dog wants to be left alone.
Displacement: When a dog is uncertain and not sure how to behave, it may utilize some sort of displacement behavior. Some of these include, yawning when not tired, licking the lips when food is not present, scratching, biting paws, sniffing object or shaking the body. Yes, these are things that a dog does normally, but the situation at hand needs to be studied. If the behavior doesn’t make sense for what is happening, it may very well be a sign that a dog is feeling overly excited or anxious and does not know what to do.
Avoidance: A dog may turn its head, hide behind its owner or someone else, bark and retreat or roll over in a submissive display. These dogs are attempting to avoid an uncomfortable situation.
Signs of aggression should never be ignored in a dog. A dog that is truly aggressive must be seen by a professional like a veterinarian or certified behaviorist. To neglect to do this is putting yourself and others in danger. Signs of aggression include:
Dogs who are fearful, feeling anxious or just downright aggressive will bite even their own family members in certain situations. However, biting is almost always a dog’s last resort, after they ahve used their body language to show their discomfort. When a person understands how to read canine body language, they are less likely to be bitten. Don’t be the owner who fails to believe that their dog would “ever” bite anyone. All dogs can bite, and any dog will bite given a unique set of circumstances. If you believe that your dog has the potential to lash out or you would like to learn more about dog body language, speak to your veterinarian or a certified trainer for more information and assistance.
If you have been bitten by a dog in West Palm Beach, you may be able to seek compensation for your injuries. Dog bites can be disabling and disfiguring, don’t assume that you have no recourse. Call our office today and schedule your appointment for a free case evaluation. We will review the details of your incident and advise you of your available legal options.