Problem Solving

29
Dec 12

Getting Personal Regarding Dog Bites 911 Call

Recently I published a post about "free speech" which actually referred to the fact that dogsbite.org had refused my offer to submit dog training articles which I thought might be a good fit for their website. I have written in the past about how children should be trained to behave around dogs in order not to get bitten, as well as writing about how we should train and manage our dogs in order to keep them from biting children.

However, despite the fact that dogsbite.org was not interested in my articles, I still found their recent email with a link to a 911 call concerning a dog bite victim extremely compelling, so I continued to correspond with them, and I also posted a link to that article on their website on my FB page.

Wow...talk about controversy. Both dog rescue and dog show enthusiasts attacked the owner of dogsbite.org with a vengence. This was a couple of weeks ago and I did not have time to do further research before Christmas, so I simply took the post down since I did not want someone being so thoroughly trashed on my Facebook page if I did not have time to do some research to see if it was justified.

But today I had a little time, so I read extensively through their website. Oddly enough, while doing so, I had Animal Planet playing in the background, and today was a full day of "Pit Bulls" all day on Animal Planet (as in episode after episode of Pit Bulls and Parolees).

This article is not about that television show. It is not really even about Pit Bulls.

Today I  just wanted to write to you about www.dogsbite.org. If you are offended by someone talking about the percentages of fatal and serious dog bite attacks committed by Pit Bulls and Pit Bull type dogs, then you will find their website offensive. If however, you wish to read, with an open mind, statistics and articles about dog bite attacks, you will actually find the site fascinating and full of information.

I definitely did not find the website "anti-dog", which is what some of the comments on my FB posting indicated I would find. In fact, I found just the opposite. I admit the site is definitely not Pit Bull friendly, they do believe in legislation concerning this type of dog as a method of serious dog attack prevention.

Those who oppose breed specific legislation always use the words "your breed will be next". As an owner of Siberian Huskies, a breed that does consistently stay on the top ten list of fatal attacks, with 2-4 attacks a year on infants (not always in the US, but world-wide), I admit that I am concerned about breed bans. But I am more concerned about people having unrealistic expectations of dogs, and doing irresponsible things that lead to the loss of human life.

On dogsbite.org you will find quotes such as this one:

Pit Bull advocates and humane organizations often use scare tactis to help gain support for their cause. They say if pit bulls are banned today, German Shepherds and Cocker Spaniels will be banned tomorrow. The former Dog Warden for Lucas County, Ohio, Tom Skeldon, was the most recognized authority in the US concerning Pit Bull regulations during his tenure. In a 2005 article, Skeldon states:

'"Some humane groups have been manipulated by these Pit Bull factions to where they fight breed-specific legislation using scare tactics like 'your breed will be next.'  And for 13 years, their breed hasn't been next."

Reference: Bulldog Approach to Warden's Job Makes Skeldon a Favorite Target, by Dale Emch, Toledo Blade, February 21, 2005

I was given permission to quote from their recent email mailing which has the link to the 911 call, but I am going to give it to you as a link on the DogsBite.org website, so you will have the full story. Despite the fact that I own Siberian Huskies, a breed of dog that must be evaluated and placed very carefully only in responsible homes, I am not afraid to give you factual information about characteristics of different breeds.

Why?  Not because I have any need at all to protect Pit Bulls or Pit Bull type dogs that have been involved in such a high percentage of fatal dog bite attacks. I don't. I researched fatal dog bite attacks years before we had the internet, back when the articles could be found primarily in pediatric journals. When I woud go up to Cornell University to Canine Behavioral Workshops, I would always schedule an extra day to spend in their library, to research and copy articles. I care deeply about this issue. I do not believe that protecting dogs who kill people is related in any way at all to protecting dogs in general.

In fact, I believe when we do so, it has the opposite effect. Dogs which make safe pets are discriminated against when we fight laws that could lower fatal dog bite attacks. We may find one day that all dogs over a certain size will be outlawed (try to find an apartment to rent right now that allows dogs over 20 or 30 pounds and you will see what I mean).

Please don't speak before you research. Read articles about fatal attacks. Study statistics. If your heart can stand it, listen to the 911 calls. Then make your own decision on this issue based on common sense. If you have a child or a grandchild, or if your grandparents live in an area where dogs run loose, you may have a different view than someone who lives in a city where few dogs run loose, or if you are someone young and fit who feels safe around all dogs (believe me, though, you are NOT SAFE, especially if you go jogging alone because there are numerous attacks on adults who are not elderly).  In fact, I believe all those who walk or jog alone should carry pepper spray and/or a stick as protection against dog attacks.

Please click this link and listen to this 911 call (which, by the way, is not nearly as upsetting as many I have heard). But I think it will touch you, and perhaps make you think more about the fact that we must protect our children....that the life of ONE child is worth much more than the life of a dog, definitely worth more than the rights of allowing irresponsible people to own any type of dog they so desire. I believe in the public's right to bear arms, but I also believe in background checks, and keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally unstable or people with criminal backgrounds. Unfortunately, we will never see the day when there will be background checks on who can own a dog, so the safest thing to do is to provide, as pets to the public, only the type of dogs that are, as a rule, safe as family pets. Here is the 911 call recently released:

911 Call of Near Fatal Pit Bull Attack

IT IS TIME TO FACE THIS ISSUE HEAD ON. IT IS TIME FOR UNNECESSARY, PAINFUL MAIMING OF CHILDREN TO STOP. IT IS DEFINITELY TIME FOR FATAL DOG BITE ATTACKS IN THE UNITED STATES, AS WELL AS OTHER COUNTRIES, TO STOP....SINCE THEY ARE, ALMOST ALWAYS, PREVENTABLE. AND KEEP IN MIND THAT THE FATAL DOG BITE STATISTICS ARE SHOWING A VERY TINY SNAPSHOT OF THE PROBLEM, BECAUSE THEY DON'T INCLUDE ALL OF THE PEOPLE WHO HAVE LOST ARMS, OR CHILDREN WHO HAVE BEEN PERMANENTLY MAIMED BY DOGS BUT WHO ARE STILL ALIVE. THERE ARE THOUSANDS OF THESE ATTACKS EACH YEAR THROUGHOUT THE WORLD, HUNDREDS IN THE US ALONE.

2014 update:  Here is a link to information on fatal dog bites thus far this year (as of 6/16/14) published by Dogsbite.org:

http://www.dogsbite.org/dog-bite-statistics-fatalities-2014.php

I challenge you, whether you are a single dog owner, a rescue volunteer, a dog show exhibitor or a dog breeder, please educate yourself on this issue. Please stop fighting laws that protect the public, but instead, help your legislators find ways to implement laws that do not penalize responsible owners, but do keep both dogs and people SAFE.

(c)2012-2014, Melanie Schlaginhaufen, all rights reserved. May not be reprinted, in whole or in part, without permission. We urge you to visit the www.dogsbite.org websie for additional information. We are not affiliated with that organization in any way, but we do appreciate the information they provide, at no cost, for those who wish to research this issue and work on keeping their community safe.

 

26
Oct 12

Free Speech?.

Free Speech?  I wonder sometimes, since honesty seems to be something that gets you kicked out of certain circles instead of people listening and trying to work out problems or differences.

Realizing that our readers could be from other countries, let me preface this article by saying that free speech is something highly valued in the United States, and even protected by our Constitution.

However, it is not just when you speak your mind about a political issue that you need to be prepared to be attacked or discriminated against. Sure, you can say whatever you want to, but be prepared to face the consequences.  Recently, I wrote to a website that I have always highly respected, because of their work on dog bite research.  I offered to allow them to do guest posts on this site, and offered to write for them if they ever needed guest authors who had extensive behavioral training experience.

First I received an unsigned email reply, telling me that my website seemed to be geared towards dog show and rescue people, so it would not be a good fit for them.  I wrote back, explaining all of my experience (and included a link to my bio which you can also see on the About Us part of this website).  I am right smack in the middle....if dogs were a political party, I would be an Independent, if they were a religion, I would be non-denominational!  I did request a reply from someone with a name, so the founder of their organization was the one who eventually wrote back politely declining any sharing of posts, etc, because our philosophies are not a good "fit".  Anyone who knows me personally knows I devoted years and years of my life studying dog aggression and researching fatal dog bite attacks, and I have been interviewed many times by local media while still in NC, particularly after fatal dog attacks took place. So it is interesting that simply because I happen to be a dog rescue volunteer and I show dogs, I am considered the enemy of people who are trying to protect the public from dog bites!

So strange...cannot help but make you wonder about WHY these  people are doing this work.  For the public's safety, okay, I will buy that.  But definitely they are not doing it to educate people about dogs and how to keep from getting bitten by choosing the right dog for their family in the first place, or training and managing their pets so that they will never bite anyone.  They are not doing it to make sure that dogs get a chance at life by being bred only by responsible individuals, and placed or adopted by people who understand dogs and know how to weed out aggressive dogs and adopt out dogs that will make good family pets. I don't really think they care much about dogs, but this is JUST MY OPINION folks...perhaps they have a financial or political agenda that is closer to that of PETA, who don't even believe that dogs should be pet animals.

You know what?  We will never solve anything like the dog bite epidemic or the heartbreaking issue of pet overpopulation (which causes millions of dogs and cats to be killed at shelters each year) if we cannot work together.  Rescue folks, the ETHICAL breeders are not your enemy.  They hate unethical breeding practices as much, if not more, than you do.  Breeders, you don't have to abandon helping animal welfare and rescue organizations just because some animal rights advocates have gone off the deep end.

I wish I were younger, wealthier, healthier and had more energy.  If I could turn back the clock ten years ago, where I was those things, then I think  I would concentrate on developing a group of dog lovers, who had common sense, from all areas of the dog world, to work on the issues that are facing us today.  Because if we keep fighting each other, and becoming more and more self-righteous instead of working together, so much less is going to get done. And before you know it, we could all lose our rights to own the dogs we love.

Would love to know your thoughts on this subject...do YOU have suggestions as to how to get dog people to work together?

 

 

 

 

14
May 12

Thunderstorm Phobias

By Melanie Schlaginhaufen

 

Every year about this time, I repost this article, because fear of thunderstorms is so distressing for both dogs and owners. Have you ever experienced the sight of a dog frantically pacing, whining, or diving for cover the instant thunder rumbles in the distance? Or came home to find that the happy dog you left playing in the backyard this morning has injured himself, even damaged your home, digging and clawing his way through a door to come inside?  All of these behaviors are incredibly upsetting, and are a sign that your dog needs treatment for a phobia of thunderstorms.


Animal behaviorists have studied this problem for years, yet no one has found the definite "cure". Complicating the issue is the fact that thunderstorm phobia can develop late in life, often manifesting itself for the first time at age 7 or 8. My theory on this is that older dogs experience some sort of pain when the barometric pressure drops, like an arthritic human being experiences when a storm is on the way. Since there are many components to a storm (atmospheric changes, loud thunder, flashing lightening, hard rain pounding on the roof) it can be difficult to determine exactly what triggers your dog's fear.


So what can you do to help your dog that is afraid of storms? A small percentage of dogs respond to desensitization techniques, such as providing valued food rewards while being exposed to a tape recording of storm noises. The tapes are initially played very softly, increasing the volume gradually during each training session as your dog becomes more comfortable. Unfortunately noise is only part of the issue, and it is almost impossible to duplicate things such as changes in barometer pressure. So unless you have the luxury of working at a research center that has a thunderstorm duplicate chamber, you can only go so far with desensitization.


However, you can help reduce the possibility that static electricity is part of the issue by rubbing the dog all over with a dryer sheet, such as “Bounce".  Because the unscented version can be hard to find, we offer it in our Knowing Dogs Amazon store, under the Anti-Anxiety section. It is helpful to rub this on yourself as well, so you do not accidentally shock your dog when you touch him on a stormy day. There is also now a special anti-static cape marketed for dogs with thunderstorm phobias, called the Storm Defender and there is another piece of doggie clothing, not anti-static but supposedly very effective for anxiety, called the Anxiety Wrap.  If you are interested in reading about a study which compared the use of an anti-static cape versus a placebo cape, take a look at this short article. With our storm phobic dog, we simply use the dryer sheets plus DAP plug-ins,  but if you have tried a Storm Defender or Anxiety Wrap, I would love to hear from you about their effectiveness. Thundershirts are another product that has become popular, and just like wraps, they work the same way that swaddling a baby works, to calm the dog.

 

Exercise and certain supplements can be valuable in lowering anxiety of any type, so increase your dog’s daily exercise (and therefore his endorphin level) during storm season. Try getting up earlier so you can take him for a long walk before you leave for work or errands, walking in the morning when it is cool, on any day when thunderstorms may have a chance of popping up. Make sure he is on a healthy diet, with supplements if needed. Taurine is an amino acid that increases dopamine levels, which can have a calming effect, so this is the supplement I most often recommend for dogs with any type of anxiety issue. I have also seen success when adding B vitamins, particularly B-3, which is niacinamide. More is not better, use the smallest dose recommended, gradually working up to a slightly higher dose if needed for more calming effect* All the B vitamins work together for neurological health, but most pet owners don't enjoy poking pills, and B vitamins can have a bit of a yukky taste, however niacinamide is a tiny pill, easily concealed in a treat or a piece of cheese, that most dogs eat without any trouble so it isn't necessary to poke it down the dog's throat.


A daily anti-anxiety medication (sometimes in the anti-depressant family) is often prescribed, with tranquilizers as needed on stormy days. The hardest part of being successful with medications is the timing. If the dog's adrenaline level is already up due to sensing the approach of a storm, his body may not be able to respond appropriately to the tranquilizer. Keep in mind that tranquilizers must be given at least an hour before he is able to sense the storm's approach. This can be difficult in climates where storms arise suddenly, often while you are at work. One of the most wonderful things can be a dog-loving neighbor who will actually sit with your dog if a storm arises when you are away.. But even if this cannot be arranged, a stay-at-home neighbor may be able to come over at least long enough to give your dog his med if a storm is approaching. This is always less stressful on the neighbor if your dog will take the pill hidden in a tasty treat, such as a small piece of cheese.  There are now even treats made especially for the purpose of hiding pills (called Pill Pockets).


This year, 2017, I finally have a bit of news to add in reference to medication for storm phobic dogs. A new medication, called Selio(TM) has come out, for noise phobic dogs. I am going to simply include a link to the website from the manufacturer, since I haven't worked with a dog who is on this medication. I have however, read some good reviews of it, from dog owners on Facebook who have tried it. These were dog owners who had to use rather strong tranquilizers in the past, since their dogs became so upset by storms when they were not home that they would harm themselves, and of course that usually also involved harming the home, from chewing through drywall all the way to breaking through windows!  So definitely I would suggest speaking with your veterinarian about the props, and any cons, to this medication. Here is the most current information I could find for you: https://www.zoetisus.com/products/dogs/sileo/.


Be sure your dog is in a safe place if he must be left alone during a day when a storm is likely. Doggie daycare can be a good option during storm-prone months, particularly for dogs who cannot handle being in a comfy crate while you are away. Some dogs do feel secure in the crate and will not harm themselves trying to get out during a storm, but unfortunately, some panic and do get hurt.  Safety is of the highest importance, because storm phobic dogs often will tear through fencing, even break through windows and doors, if left alone during a storm.


When you are home during the stormy event, be careful not to accidentally reinforce your dog’s fearful behavior by coddling him during storms. If you remain calm and act as if everything is normal, then your dog will be less fearful. Teach him, on non-stormy days, what the "place" command means, so that he is used to laying on a mat or dog bed when he is directed to his place . During storms, you can always move his mat to the room you are in, so that he is near you, but not having to be held constantly (as constant stroking and reassurance can backfire, again, let me stress it is better to try to keep the environment as much like normal as possible). Another reason to avoid holding the dog if you can, is because during a very loud clap of thunder, we, human beings, also sometimes have an automatic physical response, and your dog will pick up on this, making him more fearful because he will sense your adrenaline. If he is a small dog used to sitting on your lap, try to position him to your side, beside you in the chair, instead of right on top of you---most dogs know that if Mom has a book or a computer device in her lap, then they don't need to be sitting right in the middle!


If the storm is not directly overhead, keep the television or radio on, to block out some of the noise. Using a Comfort Zone DAP plug-in where the dog will be staying can also be very helpful, especially if you make sure to keep the plug in part fresh, and you use it only during thunderstorm season, not all year long, so the dog doesn't become desensitized to it.


Comfort Zone spray can also have a calming effect on some dogs, if sprayed on their bedding or misted in the air.  D.A.P. stands for "dog appeasing pheromones". For an easy-to-understand explanation of how these products work to lower anxiety in dogs, see the manufacturer's website - www.petcomfortzone.com.  For thunderstorm phobias and separation anxiety, I am a big believer in taking an approach that combines everything that may help lower the dog's fear level and keep him more comfortable.

 

Please feel free to leave a comment below or Contact me through the Contact form if you have a storm phobic dog and would like to share your suggestions with our readers. Also, if you own a fearful dog, please consider purchasing the inexpensive dog ebook, Healing the Broken Heart...How to Rehab a Fearful Dog. The price has been reduced to 5.97, and this is a booklet full of valuable information, delivered to your inbox seconds after your purchase it. 

(c)2002-2017, Melanie Schlaginhaufen, all rights reserved. For reprint permission, use the Contact Us form.  Portions of this article were originally written by Melanie for a website titled DogSpace, which later was launched as DogSter, however the author has retained the copyright on this article and added to it from time to time through the years. Animal rescue groups, and ethical breeders, will normally be given permission to reprint, as long as this copyright information and a link to www.knowingdogs.com is included at the end of the article. 

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