In nearby West Chicago, an 83-year-old grandma took her dog Toto out for a stroll. Attacked by a pair of pit bulls, and despite the aid of four men, one armed with a shovel, Toto died and the grandmother was bitten and bruised from the attack.
Recently, I too was bitten by a dog stemming from a dog play date gone awry. My youngest daughter, whose instincts are not yet marred by the complexity of adulthood, warned me to pass on an invitation. Hearing her but not listening, upon crossing into the territory of the staked dog, it responded by taking a hefty bite out of my left thigh.
The large and gaping hole required more than 20 stitches and became infected, as do almost half of all dog bites. The infection was severe enough that I was required to stay in the hospital for a few days followed by weekly visits for a couple of months to the Edward Wound Center.
Before my incident, I approached other dogs and their owners while walking my dog in an effort to “socialize” my rambunctious dog. Since being bitten, I avoid the whole scenario and cross to the other side of the street.
Across the U.S., almost 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year — half of them are children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. One of five bites requires medical attention.
DuPage County sees about 900 dog bites each year, and Will County reports that one to two dog bites are reported each day.
This year so far, DuPage County has seen about 400 bites involving dogs, said Todd Faraone with DuPage County Animal Care and Control.
“The vast majority of the bites reported are dog-to-dog incidents,” he added.
This typically occurs when one dog is loose roaming a neighborhood. Less frequently, one dog bites another dog while both are out for walks with their owners.
Faraone said sometimes dog walkers might find themselves in a helpless situation, but he did provide some tips on how dogs and owners can stay safe while out walking.
Dog walkers should “have an idea if there are any potential problem dogs in the area they are walking and avoid those areas if possible,” Faraone said.
“Dogs that are on tie outs have an increased tendency to be aggressive and can break from the tie out,” he added.
“Walkers shouldn’t be listening to music or talking on their cellphones so they can hear a barking or an approaching dog,” Faraone said.
If approached by another dog with an aggressive posture, he said, it is important to keep your dog under control.
“A tight collar or harness along with a sturdy leash to maintain control of your dog is important,” he said.
Faraone added retractable leashes are convenient for allowing a dog to roam when out for a walk, but might not be the safest thing in a contentious situation.
Running from or staring at an aggressive dog can stimulate it, he said. If needed, Faraone suggested using the word “no” a commonly used command word to ward off an aggressive dog.
He also said walking with a cane, umbrella, air horn, citronella spray or dog repellent spray can provide some protection for dogs and their owners.
Avoiding a contentious situation is the best thing, Faraone added.
Months after my incident, my dog bite has healed enough to swim several times in Lake Michigan, ironically at a dog-friendly beach.
Following Faraone’s advice and paying attention to my own instincts, my super-friendly pooch hasn’t made one summertime pal along Lake Michigan’s shore despite his best efforts. And that is the way it is going to be for now anyway, unless my daughter tells me otherwise.Tags: pets