Dog Attacks in the News

Dog Attacks in the News

dogs-2-1254566-mWhile there is certainly much to be thankful for as spring arrives, and the landscapes around the country begin to change, there is so much sadness in the news, here in St. Petersburg and elsewhere, so that it can seem a depressing time when one hears about dog attacks.

While sitting with a mug of coffee this morning, I read about a wheelchair-bound man who faced a difficult loss, and several injuries as a result of a dog attack.  The stories of dog bites are always horrible and heart-wrenching for all involved.  There is much debate about how this problem should be dealt with.

In this case, it was local resident Greg Martens who suffered such an attack.  He was sitting in his home when he heard his two small Dachshunds crying.  Two pit bulls had made it into his home, where they proceeded to attack the smaller animals.  The Dachshunds were left in a pool of blood, battered and unconscious, but not until Martens intervened.  Throwing himself from his wheelchair, he pushed at the pit bulls, trying to get to his dogs.  One of the pit bulls latched onto his arm.  He suffered multiple fractures to his knee and leg in the fall from his chair.  Eventually, the pit bulls left the home, jumped the backyard fence and returned to their home. 

There are several parts of this story that are disturbing.  One of the Dachshunds died a few days after the attack.  The other dog and Martens are healing.  But he admits that he is rather terrified because one of the pit bulls has already been released into the care of its owners and the fate of the second, the one that bit him, is still unknown.  He fears a repeat attack.

The owners of these dogs will undoubtedly be held liable for the damages caused, assuming that Martens seeks the assistance of a personal injury attorney.  While that won’t bring his beloved pet back, and it won’t undo the physical damage he suffered in the fiasco, it is an important step that Martens would be wise to take.  These animals, which were obviously unrestrained, leaped into his yard, over the safety gate, which was set up in his doorway, and endangered his life.

Proper training can help keep dogs from acting on violent instincts that may have been brought on by past circumstances they encountered.  However, even with the best training, animals – even those who have never shown a history of violence – should be restrained.  Obviously these animals were athletes, and as such, it shouldn’t have been assumed that a low fence would be enough to keep them in the yard.  It is the duty of the owners to properly care for their dogs.  If it is decided that these animals are a dangerous threat, they could be euthanized.

The owners failed to protect their animals, and, in overlooking this obligation, they endangered others.  While it is understandable that people want justice to be served, euthanizing the animals will not necessarily resolve the problem because their owners could still bring new pets into their home.  Taking legal action against the owners of possibly dangerous dogs can help reinforce the fact that owners are responsible for their pets.  Perhaps the damages assessed by the courts will be enough to discourage the owners from repeating their previous offenses.