San Antonio’s Animal Care Services cites irresponsible pet ownership in recent dog attacks
Five dog attacks in the past three weeks have left five people with serious injuries including a 79-year-old man and a 4-month-old baby boy.
Animal Care Services assistant director Shannon Sims said every victim is still receiving medical care for injuries, including broken ribs, lung punctures and a skull fracture.
A 3-year-old suffered eight broken ribs; a 1-year-old girl had facial lacerations and a skull fracture; another 1-year-old is still in the intensive care unit at a local hospital with multiple injuries; and the 4-month-old is being treated for a punctured lung and multiple bites on his torso.
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The 79-year-old man, who is still hospitalized, suffered multiple wounds to his arms when one of two dogs attacked him as he walked to church Sept. 3.
“These five were 100 percent preventable,” Sims said. “They range from the poorest districts in the city to the wealthiest districts in the city and the common denominator is irresponsible pet ownership. Everyone single one of these dogs were owned.”
He said there should never be a time when a baby, toddler or small child is left alone with a dog.
Dog attacks moved into the public eye earlier this year when a 4-year-old by was killed by the family dog at home.
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In the months following the child’s death, awareness was heightened and there was a drop in the number of dog attacks, Sims said. That has changed.
“I don’t know if it’s a short memory span, but you put the information out and you see a dramatic drop initially while its fresh in everyone’s mind,” Sims said. “Then the Facebook mentality that we have of moving on to the next click kicks in and people forget the important stuff. And the children are going to bear the scars for the rest of their lives.”
Sims said there were a total of 12 serious bodily injury cases in fiscal year 2017 and 15 cases so far this year, with one month left in the fiscal year.
Education remains the key in preventing these attacks, ACS officials said. ACS officers offer classes at local schools and to community groups to try to spread the word about potential risks. Babies shouldn’t be left on the floor with a dog, even the longtime family pet. And everyone should be aware of a dog’s body language; the animal will often show signs before it attacks.
“Part of being a responsible pet owner is understanding why your dog does what it does and ensuring you’re proactive in how to read their signals,” ACS spokeswoman Lisa Norwood said.
“When we say these messages over and over again, it’s said with sadness and anger that we have to continue to repeat ourselves,” Norwood said, noting that seniors and children are the most vulnerable to dog attacks.
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Of the five dogs that caused injuries in the last three weeks, two have been euthanized and ACS is seeking the surrender of another.
Vincent T. Davis is a reporter in the Greater San Antonio and Bexar County area. Read him on our free site, mySA.com, and on our subscriber site, ExpressNews.com. | email@example.com | Twitter: @vincentdavis