Joseph O'Brien 8 p.m., Oct. 18
- Community Blog
- Writing to Remember
Dogs Behaving Badly
There is strength in numbers. Whoever coined that phrase must have owned a pack of strong dogs. Dogs are amazing opportunists and are good at sizing up their strength against human beings and other dogs. While it is not unheard of for a pack of Chihuahuas to go on the attack, usually attacks involve strong dogs such as Pit Bulls and Rottweilers. These breeds aren't only physically strong, they are faster and more precise than any others. And when you put two or more of these prizefighters together, pack mentality makes them a serious force to be reckoned with, especially for smaller dogs and children.
This week, Clayton "CJ" Snow learned a treacherous lesson about just how dangerous two dogs can be together. While walking to school, two Rottweilers launched an attack on him that resulted in over 40 bites to his arm, chest, abdomen and hand. After a rousing good time (for the dogs, not for CJ), a young man stepped in and pulled the dogs off as they dragged CJ away.
Two women had tried to help the boy, but the dogs in all their glory, went around them or jumped on top of them to get to their target. One woman went to her car to look for a weapon, but I doubt it would have helped. I've read that men used crowbars to beat two Pit Bulls off a girl, and it didn't faze them.
When dogs are in a high state of arousal, they go into a trance, and nothing short of shooting them will get them to stop. I have many years of experience with strong breeds, but it's a relief I wasn't called upon to rescue the boy. To do so, I would have put my own safety at great risk. There a few good answers in stopping dogs on the run.
The important thing when it comes to rescuing someone is to find an object to place in front of yourself for protection. Even a shopping bag will help. If possible, the victim should roll up in a ball to protect the soft places on his body. Remain calm, but use a loud voice to put the dogs on notice. A simple bump on the dogs' back end with your shoe might be enough to knock them out of the trance, and then you can demand that they back off.
Another solution may be to try pulling the back legs and circling around, so the dog has to use his front paws to balance himself and can't turn around to bite you. Keep using the loud voice and insisting that the dogs get away from the victim. Keep walking forward to let them know you are not intimidated. With luck, you'll still be around to celebrate the next Christmas holiday.
The Rottie's owner says he can't figure out why the attack occurred because he took the dogs to obedience school, walked them regularly, and often got them around people. Nice try, but these things don't stop predatory behavior. A secure fence works every time (That's assuming he didn't let the dogs run loose deliberately).
As Temple Grandin, author of "Animals in Translation" puts it, "A typical bad-news situation is what happens when a group of predatorily-motivated dogs happen across a small dog or unsupervised child careening across their path. With so many minds at work it is much more likely that one will be inspired by the thrill of the chase and others will be drawn into the fray by irresistible, almost magnetic natural forces.
In humans, the "lynch-mob" or "gang" mentality describes analgous behavior driven by the effects of peer pressure. In some cases the power of some forces become overwhelming and reason is superseded. Although they are rare, there are a number of extremely unfortunate incidents each year in the United States in which groups of "wild dogs" attack and maim or kill children. The culprits are usually medium- to large-sized dogs with innately high prey drive that are cruising neighborhoods in groups of two to six "pack" members.
With this kind of knowledge so readily available to dog owners, one has to ask: Why do these attacks keep happening?