I explained before how often others' words belittle or diminish a dog attack after it happens. Along with the ever-present "It could have been worse" from others, I received a note from animal control, telling me this was a "common dog attack." That phrase sounded like "no big deal" to me, especially when paired with them disagreeing with my assessment that the dogs that attacked me and my youngest dog in late 2021 were dangerous. What is a common dog attack, anyway? I truly don't believe this label on our experience is true. And, if it is, then beware because that means a crap-ton of dangerous dogs live in our communities. Here's what I think.
As I start to gather research for a possible book for survivors of dog attacks, I may share more stats and such.
For now, this is how I see it.
Over 20+ years walking my dogs in our relatively rural mountain community in Colorado, I have been chased and threatened and lunged at by at least 12-20 dogs.
They bark. They snap. They posture. But until the dog attack in late 2021, none of us ever got injured or bitten.
Why? Because I like to think I know enough to keep myself and my dogs safe from mostly normal dogs who behave aggressively for a variety of reasons. Also, my current dogs are pretty darn amazing at NOT responding in unhelpful ways.
Maybe I'm naïve to trust that most dogs, even fearful or territorial ones, really do NOT want to bite. They have enough so-called bite inhibition to hold back in many situations.
Is it scary? You bet your @$$ it is. Once a neighbor used her CAR to get between us and a new dog in the neighborhood who raced well off his property to confront and threaten us on the road. That was the *only way we could get away from him because every time I tried to take a step toward home, he would come charging back at us, lunging and snapping.
She called later to make sure we made it home. We did, but that dog followed us for quite a while, from a distance.
Common Dog Attack
What seems common to me?
- Warnings in the form of barking and growling on approach
- Posturing and forward/back movements
- Lunging and snapping
- Even actually landing a single bite, not a sustained attack
NOT Common Dog Attacks
What seems like a NOT common dog attack to me?
- Zero provocation or even awareness of the dogs' presence
- Silent pursuit from behind
- Instantly going for the throat of the victim
- Biting, gripping, and shaking the victim repeatedly over several minutes
- Remaining quiet during the attack (not growling)
- Multiple bite injures
- Broken bones
Again, I will say that *if* that kind of behavior and injures *are* common, then we live in communities with a LOT of dangerous dogs.
A Recent Dog Attack Example in Georgia
Yet, both common dog attacks and uncommon ones don't seem to be taken seriously at first. Take this example of an 11-year-old being yanked from his bicycle and attacked by 3 loose dogs.
What makes me absolutely sick is that these dogs were KNOWN for running loose a lot and even chasing people on bikes. The boy's family filed prior complaints, but NOTHING ever got done about it.
The result? The boy lost part of an ear and most of his scalp along with other physical and psychological injuries.
That is NOT okay.
Dog Attacks on People vs Dog Attacks on Other Dogs
It's 100% clear to me that dogs that attack people may be taken more seriously than dogs who attack dogs, but not necessarily.
Dogs That Bite Other Dogs share certain characteristics, as we've discussed before.
I never allowed myself to believe the charges filed in our case would result in anything satisfying. It didn't really. Absolutely ZERO sanctions got placed on the 2 dogs that attacked us. They still live 1/3 mile up the road. I see or hear from others that they [or other dogs from the same household] are running loose again in the neighborhood ~5 times since the attack.
That includes one social media post showing one of the dogs from the same home standing alone at the top of out driveway, which triggered a full-blown panic attack.
I often hear them howling too, which is also difficult.
BUT, at least I set a legal precedent, so WHEN they attack again, and I believe they will, maybe someone will take it seriously; I hope.