Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Dog bites

Previously I mentioned I was going to discuss dog biting. Dog bites are serious and every year children and adults are sent to the hospital and in some cases die.

Personally, I can tell you that when your dog bites you are in for an interesting ride.

In 1998 I became a mom for the first time. My then husband, had been given a miniature dacshund he named Opie two years previously. He was a very spoiled weiner dog whom we took just about everywhere. I had even taken it upon myself to buy him lots of toys and clothes as if he were a child. On the outside he looked like the most adorable, sweetest weiner dog.

But when it came to strangers, especially kids, Opie would snap and at times become agressive.

I determined that this was due to the neighbor children who were in their pre-teen years teasing him. I had even found a beebee hole in my mother in laws bedroom window where they had apparently attempted to shoot at him one time when he was on the back deck.

Opie was not aggressive all of the time though so we just brushed it off and did our best to be as cautious as possible.

In June 1998 when my daughter was slightly over 3 months old, our lives would change forever.

I was sitting in the recliner nursing my daughter while talking to a friend (former co-worker). She and her son were staying with us temporarily. It seemed like it happened so fast but it began strangely.

Opie was being friendly to Bryson who was only three at the time. The next thing I knew Bryson was screaming and there was blood all over the kitchen floor.

There were bites all over Bryson's left side of his face. All I could do was scream for my then husband to come downstairs. Apparently from what we all figured, Bryson had tried to pick Opie up. Instead, Opie bit Bryson's left eye brow leaving a nasty gash. When Bryson attempted to put him down, Opie bit him at least twice on his left cheek.

After that, David could not even catch Opie. He was completely under the couch obviously realizing he had done something wrong. David was ready to kill Opie right then. He wanted nothing to do with a dog that would bite someone, especially a child. Since we had a small child, David wanted Opie gone.

In the meantime, David took our friend Donna and her son Bryson to the emergency room. I grabbed the vaccination papers on Opie assuming they would want to know if his rabies shot was up to date. This would keep Bryson from having to have the painful shots.

From what Donna and David explained, the had to place Bryson in a papoose like jacket while stitching him up. Child Protective services was called in to investigate and David gave them the paperwork on Opie.

Bryson had to have 27 Stitches.

In the meantime, I was still at home so very emotional. I felt very bad for Bryson and Donna. As I cleaned up Bryson's blood I got more emotional. I loved dogs so much, but Opie could no longer be a part of our household.

David actually wanted to take Opie out into the woods borrowing his dads gun and ending the problem right then. But after I finally got in touch with his dad and step mom they immediately came up to get Opie. They had a home for him on a farm.

But about two years later Opie had to be put down. No one really knows what was going on with him other than he had a serious disease that caused him to be extremely aggressive. He had killed a puppy and an adult dog. When he died all of his belongings had to be destroyed.

David and I took full responsibility for what Opie had done to Bryson. In all we had a total of $800 worth of medical bills to pay. However, we consulted with a local attorney who explained that even though we paid the medical bills, bought medications, etc. we would be liable for any plastic surgery if any that Bryson had if he wanted to all the way up until he is 18 years old.

Emotional scars are left on both the dog bite victim, their family, and the dogs owner's family. There are medical bills and medications to pay as well as the long road of liability. Having to part with a dog you loved very much is difficult too.

It doesn't matter what breed it is in, you cannot trust any dog at all. If you have an aggressive dog, please find an animal trainer or someone who is trained to handle dogs such as that.

If you are in a neighborhood that has dogs roaming and particularly hanging out in your yard be aware that you can be potentially liable if a dog bites someone in your yard. Don't assume that homeowners insurance will take care of it. Speak to the dogs owner if you know who it is. If not or if they refuse to take personal accountability with their dog(s), as cruel as it may sound, call the animal shelter. Dogs who have bitten or are known to bite can be banned from dog kennels including those at a veterinarians office, just because of liability.

I know because I had attempted to find a temporary place for Opie until a home could be found.

No one wants their child, friends, or family to be attacked by a dog. Take action against a dog known to bite before a situation like what I went through happens.

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