Price of a dog biteA punctured cheek, lost school days and broken bones resulted from a pair of May dog bite incidents in Douglas County.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
A punctured cheek, lost school days and broken bones resulted from a pair of May dog bite incidents in Douglas County.
One of the dogs, a family pet that attacked a 6-year-old, has been put down. Another dog that attacked a couple walking along a trail in Maple, remains unidentified.
Warm weather brings with it more dog bite cases, according to Chris Wagner, Superior police community service officer. Often, those who are injured are children.
That was the case May 30 when a 6-year-old was attacked by a 2-year-old pit bull/lab mix named Lucky at a Minnesuing Road residence. The scene continues to haunt the dreams of Tina Blaine, the boy’s grandmother. The family was sitting outside and Blaine’s grandchildren were playing catch. Six-year-old Brandon ran behind the dog, which was eating under the deck.
“The dog stopped eating and lunged for his face,” Blaine said. Lucky took the boy down and started tearing at his face. Blaine jumped off the deck to pull the dog away. When she picked Brandon off the ground and pulled his hands from his face, “blood just came gushing out.”
The dog had bitten right through the boy’s cheek. Doctors put in stitches to repair the damage, but told Blaine the 6-year-old may never be able to smile with that side of his face. If the bite had been a few inches lower, Blaine said, it could have hit the boy’s jugular vein.
Lucky’s owner surrendered the dog to the Humane Society of Douglas County for quarantine. The animal, which had never received a rabies shot, was later euthanized to test for the disease. The test came back negative, although Brandon received rabies treatment during his surgery.
The Maple couple also underwent treatment for rabies after being attacked repeatedly by a stray dog along the Tri County Corridor on May 19. The animal ripped open the man’s arm and left the woman with a broken thumb, lacerated fingers and puncture wounds on her thigh, according to a Douglas County Sheriff’s Department report. The couple was walking their puppy about 300 yards east of the Wouri Road when they saw a dog on the trail in front of them. The animal went off into the woods, then charged out to attack the woman, biting her in the right hand.
The man attempted to get the dog off her, and the animal attacked him. By kicking at the dog, he got the animal to back off. The dog went a short distance away, then turned and attacked the man, biting him in the arm. The dog remains unidentified.
Man’s best friend bites more than 4.7 million people a year, according to the Centers for Disease Control, and each year 800,000 Americans seek medical attention for dog bites; half of them are children. Although the number of dog bite incidents actually fell in 2012, claim costs rose, according to a study by the Insurance Information Institute.
The Douglas County Health and Human Services Department investigates about 21 biting incidents a year, according to Ken Zurian, environmental health specialist. However, that number also includes cat, bat, muskrat, squirrel and bear bites. Douglas County Sheriff’s Department statistics show there were 16 dog bite calls from June 2012 through May 2013.
Douglas County follows state statute in regards to dog bites. If an animal has bit someone, it must be quarantined for at least 10 days to see if it exhibits signs of rabies. Owners are liable for damage caused by a dog. And if the dog causes serious injury to a person or domestic animal on two separate occasions off the owner’s property without reasonable cause, a municipality can go to court to seek a court order to kill the animal.
In the city of Superior, an additional ordinance enacted in 2009 addresses potentially dangerous animals. Under the ordinance, a dog that has attacked another dog or human can be declared potentially dangerous or dangerous by the humane officer. Owners of such dogs can be required to follow strict measures, from keeping the animal muzzled whenever it’s outside of a secure enclosure to microchipping or even sterilizing it. The cost of licensing the animal could jump to as much as $500. Since the ordinance was enacted, Wagner said, less than 10 incidents have led to the dog involved being labeled dangerous or potentially dangerous.
Insurance premiums can also be affected by dog bite cases. According to the Insurance Information Institute, most companies will insure homeowner with dogs. But once a dog has bitten someone, the company may raise premiums or even exclude the dog from coverage.
One way to prevent bites is to socialize the animal and keep it under control, Wagner said. Supervision is also key. An adult should be present anytime a child age 10 and younger is with a dog, she said.
“Teach kids how not to approach dogs,” Wagner said. They should always asking permission to pet a dog and staying away from strange dogs.
Dogs need positive outlets for their energy like daily walks, social exposure to other animals and people, obedience training and time being part of the family “pack.” Providing for dogs’ social needs can be just as critical as providing for their basic needs.
“It’s a lifelong commitment,” Wagner said. “You need to provide for those needs all of a dog’s life.”
When dealing with strays, the American Humane Association suggests approach the animal slowly and cautiously while speaking in a calm, gentle voice. If the animal appears poised to bite or attack, according to the Cesar’s Way website, do not approach it. Note its location, call animal control and stay where you can observe the scene until help arrives.
The Douglas County Sheriff’s Department is still seeking information about the dog involved in the Maple incident. It was described as a pit bull-German shepherd mix, with shepherd coloring but smaller than a typical shepherd, wearing a dark-colored collar with tags. Anyone with information is asked to call 911 or Douglas County Sheriff’s Sgt. Richard Schnell at 715-395-1371.
Brandon returned home after spending the night at the hospital, Blaine said.
“He’s doing real good,” she said. “That kid’s got more good spirits than most people.”
The 6-year-old missed the last week of school, but his class at Northwestern Elementary School sent him homemade cards. Their families have called, asking how they can help. Brandon’s teacher sent lots of activities to keep him busy while he recovers.
“It’s nice to know people in a small community do care,” Blaine said.
It was hard for her youngest son, who was caring for the dog, to decide to put it down.
“It’s what needed to be done,” she said. It happened and there’s nothing more they can do about it. “No matter what the situation is you have to do the right thing.”