Being a dog lover and a dog owner for most of my life, it hurts to write about this subject. However, the problem of dogs running loose (whether wild or not restrained) has been a problem for some time and is getting worse.
We have all heard the news stories about children being attacked and severely mauled. We have cried for those children who lost their life being ripped to shreds by a neighbor’s dog or a “stray” dog.
There have been numerous dog attacks in my home county and neighboring county (Florence and Darlington County, SC) over the past few years.
Just two weeks ago a resident in an upper middle-class neighborhood in Florence was attacked and mauled by a neighbor’s dog that was left unattended in the dog owner's yard. The bulldog ran across the street into another yard. Some think the bulldog was initially after the woman’s pet puppy. Whatever the reason the bull dog charged is not the issue.
The facts are the bulldog charged, jumped and grabbed hold of the victim’s right arm and would not let go. It shook and growled while grinding its teeth into the woman’s arm ripping the triceps muscle. After falling to the ground the woman was able to briefly get away from the bulldog’s vicious grip. As the dog charged at her again she was able to kick the beast through a gate opening and the shut the gate.
At the Emergency Department (ED) stitches, staples and bandages held together and protected the arm.
Nothing can protect the victim from the recurring thoughts of the attack. Nothing can repair the scars on her arm or her thoughts. There are hopes the partial paralysis will disappear, but there are no guarantees. The injury was to the right arm and she is right handed. She is (actually hopeful to continue being) an avid tennis player.
Sadly, she can be described as a lucky victim.
Not long before this attack a male senior citizen, a former elected official, was attacked and severely injured. For weeks there were doubts he would survive. He did. But again, he will not be the same man.
What would happen in both of the above cases if the injured party was a five year girl or a two year old toddler? Chances are they would not have survived.
In less than two years a several children have been mauled and killed in SC by dogs.
I find it unbelievable that people believe it is okay to let their dogs run free. While pets these pets are “animals”. Yes, they may be loving pets. They may have never shown any aggression. But they are animals with animal instincts.
Animals know no boundaries. They see something they want they go after it. It is instinctual.
It is up to the owners of these animals to protect neighbors, friends and loved ones from being attacked.
It is up to the pet’s owner to keep them behind a fence, in a cage, their home or on a leach.
According to a report released from Dogsbite.org from 1982-2013 there were 4,117 "reported" dog attacks resulting in injury in this country. Of that number 1839 children, 2278 adults were attacked. 466 of the attacked resulted in death!
South Carolina has a modern dog bite statute which makes a dog owner strictly liable for damages suffered by a person who is "bitten or otherwise attacked." The statute is unusual in a single respect, because it sets forth the provocation defense. Here is the text of South Carolina Statutes section 47-3-110:
SECTION 47-3-110. Liability of owner or person having dog in his care or keeping.
Whenever any person is bitten or otherwise attacked by a dog while the person is in a public place or is lawfully in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog or other person having the dog in his care or keeping, the owner of the dog or other person having the dog in his care or keeping is liable for the damages suffered by the person bitten or otherwise attacked. For the purposes of this section, a person bitten or otherwise attacked is lawfully in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog or other person having the dog in his care or keeping, when the person bitten or otherwise attacked is on the property in the performance of any duty imposed upon him by the laws of this State, by the ordinances of any political subdivision of this State, by the laws of the United States of America, including, but not limited to, postal regulations, or when the person bitten or otherwise attacked is on the property upon the invitation, express or implied, of the owner of the property or of any lawful tenant or resident of the property. If a person provokes a dog into attacking him then the owner of the dog is not liable.
If owners cannot, or will not take responsibility for the pet obey laws that are on the books perhaps we should have open season on all dogs that run free.
I know that is a ridiculous comment. Besides being ridiculous if a human being attacks a dog it is considered inhuman/animal cruelty and will land you with a huge fine and possibly jail time.
I know I will have friends and neighbors spitting fire at me for making the above comment. But folks, child and adults alike are at risk when your dog runs free.
This nonsense has to stop.
I challenge our lawmakers to pass some laws (pun intended) with some teeth. If a dog attacks a human being, without provocation, that dog should be put to death and its owner prosecuted for reckless endangerment. If a dog running free attacks a human being and results in death, the dog gets put down and the owner of that dog should be prosecuted for voluntary manslaughter.
Oh, I can hear you now. "Bill, those penalties are harsh and ridiculous."
Ask the victim of the mauling, or the parent of the child who was killed how ridiculous and harsh they feel about the injuries inflicted to their loved ones.
Below, adopted from information provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are some things to remember when and if you have a pet...
HOW CAN DOG BITES BE PREVENTED?
Before you bring a dog into your household:
Consult with a professional to learn what breeds of dogs are the best fit for you and your family.
Dogs with histories of aggression are not suitable for households with children.
Be sensitive to clues that a child is nervous or fearful around a dog.
Spend time with a dog before buying or adopting it and be extra cautious and use proper supervision when bringing a dog into a household with a baby or small child.
Do not approach strange dogs.
Do not run from a dog or scream.
Remain motionless when approached by a strange dog.
If knocked over by a dog, roll into a ball and be still.
Do not play with a dog unless supervised by an adult.
Immediately report strange dogs or dogs acting strangely to an adult.
Avoid direct eye contact with a dog.
Do not disturb or attempt to play with or move a dog that is sleeping, eating, or caring for puppies.
Do not pet a dog without allowing it to see and sniff you first.
Immediately report dog bites or scratches to an adult.