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Man's Best Friend?

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By Lissa Scott

Residents of our town have recently experienced dangerous encounters with man's best friend: dogs. Let me be perfectly clear; I am a dog-lover and have two of my own. But lately our town has suffered from mismanaged dogs that became a menace to our community.

We all recall the incident last year when a little girl was bitten by the dog owned by her next door neighbor's boarder. That incident made our local newspaper and final outcome was the homeowner losing her own dogs.

More recently, a beautiful purebred dog terrorized a Riverdale Park neighborhood. When Riverdale Park Police intervened, the dog attacked and bit two officers.

I took my own dogs to Riverdale Park Day a few weeks ago to enjoy the festivities and the lovely weather. I was amazed that strangers walked right up and patted them without hesitation--adults and children alike. I was often asked, "Do they bite?" to which I answered, "All dogs bite."

Those of us who love and share our homes with canine family members must also accept responsibility for ensuring that they become good neighbors and citizens of our town. Early socialization, curbing aggressive behavior through proper training, a sturdy fence or containment system, and never allowing a pet off-leash can ensure that both you and your pet live in harmony with your neighbors.

Inevitably, we all meet strange dogs, but the key to doing so safely is to use common sense. Parents must teach their children, the earlier the better, to not pet or approach dogs they encounter even if they are leashed or in a fenced yard. A child must never be allowed to tease a restrained dog as it can prompt an attack-- if not today, perhaps the next time the dog gets loose. If you see a dog running loose, never stare at the dog. They can perceive this as aggression. If the dog approaches, do not scream or run. It is a rare dog that a human can outrun, and this action can provoke an attack in dogs with a strong prey-drive. Stand quiet and still, and slowly back away to safety. Should the worst happen and the dog attacks, roll into a ball and protect your face and neck. "Play dead" until help comes.

Remember, all dogs must be inoculated for rabies and registered in P.G. County within 30 days of residency. You may contact P.G. County Animal Control to register a neutered pet for only $5. Call 301-499-8300 for details.

Lissa Scott is the Councilmember for Ward 6.

This page was last changed on Sunday, November 25, 2001. Questions, comments, or submissions? See the Website Committee web page. This page has been accessed 5547 times.