• September 1, 2014

Fatal dog attack leaves community seeking answers

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Posted: Sunday, March 9, 2014 12:15 am

After last weekend’s dog attack that left a Killeen toddler dead and a young girl injured, everyone is looking for answers, but finding them may not be so easy.

The attack occurred when the children were walking with an 18-year-old man near Iduma Elementary School. The dog, a bull mastiff, charged out of the garage of a nearby home and attacked the girl first, and the teenager pulled the dog off her. The dog then grabbed the toddler and dragged him until someone fired a weapon, causing the dog to retreat to the garage.

It was a tragic incident that was later ruled accidental by the preliminary autopsy report. The dog was euthanized for a rabies test, which came back negative.

For a family that lost their only child, the pain and grief must be unimaginable. For the owner of the dog that perpetrated the attack, the remorse and guilt must be unfathomable.

Sadly, it was the second time in less than a month that a Central Texas child was killed by a dog.

On Feb. 17, a 2-year-old Temple girl was attacked by a pit bull-type dog that was being watched by the girl’s family in their backyard. She later died at a Temple hospital.

Just five days earlier, a Killeen police officer shot and killed a vicious dog after it chased some children and bit one child in a Killeen neighborhood.

The recent incidents have focused public discussion on the issue of dog attacks and what can be done about them.

According to statistics from the American Humane Association, an estimated 4.7 million dog bites occur in the United States each year. Nearly 800,000 of those bites require medical care, and 70 percent of all dog-bite fatalities occurred among children under 10 years old.

Notably, about two-thirds of the bites occurred on or near the victim’s property.

But statistics only illustrate the scope of the problem and do little to solve it.

Killeen’s animal ordinance is very specific about requirements for dog owners, including restraining and tethering the animals.

The ordinance also outlaws ownership of a “dangerous animal,” described in terms of aggression and unprovoked attacks. It also allows for such a classification based on sworn affidavits from other residents or animal control personnel.

But ordinances can only help to reduce the incidence of dog attacks — not entirely prevent them.

Moreover, the dog involved in the latest fatal attack was not considered an aggressive breed, statistically speaking. It’s also unclear what, if anything, might have provoked the attack.

Whatever the cause, a young life has been lost. But should charges be filed in the case, in light of the autopsy findings that the death was accidental? Ultimately it’s up to the authorities to decide.

Moving forward, it’s important that owners properly condition their animals to eliminate aggressive behavior, especially that directed toward children.

It’s also crucial to educate children about how to interact with animals and what behaviors to avoid, in order to minimize the likelihood of an attack.

However, as long as we’re dealing with animals — which can become angry, fearful or aggressive when provoked, even unintentionally — there can never be any guarantees.

What happened last week in Killeen is tragic, both for the families involved and the community at-large. A young life was cut short, another youngster was no doubt traumatized. And the owners of the dog that committed the horrible act lost their pet and must live with the pain it caused.

In response, local communities must re-examine their animal ordinances to ensure that pet owners are held to the highest level of accountability while also protecting the public at-large.

Owning a dog is a responsibility that should be taken seriously, no matter the breed. Whether accidental or not, any dog attack has the potential for major consequences.

Sadly, our community learned that all too well last week.

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2 comments:

  • charlis posted at 9:04 am on Tue, Mar 11, 2014.

    charlis Posts: 1

    I don't understand why people have dogs that have the potential to kill. My neighborhood here in Copperas Cove had suddenly been taken over with people who own pitt bulls. This is very concerning as I have seen two in the last two weeks roaming. I'm afraid it's just a matter of time before we here of another attack by one of these vicious dogs.

     
  • Eliza posted at 11:15 am on Sun, Mar 9, 2014.

    Eliza Posts: 726

    @ Just five days earlier, a Killeen police officer shot and killed a vicious dog after it chased some children and bit one child in a Killeen neighborhood.
    --------------

    Just a few months ago, the citizens of Killeen became aware that the Animal Shelter was not being run in the proper manner the citizens thought it was ,and in which they pay tax's to see that it is. /By Law.

    The citizens would have thought all duties would have now been brought up to date by this dept.
    One of those duties are to patrol the streets in case there are stray dogs running loose or maybe if a wild animal has wondered in from the wooded areas.

    We have citizens who like to walk on the streets but at times feel they have to carry weapons of some sort, sticks, golf club, etc. for safety while they are walking,.
    It isn't only for protection from the 2 legged animals who wonder the streets, but in case they run into a 4 legged one .

    I am out on the streets several times a week, north to south & east to west., and never, not one time , have I saw an animal patrol vehicle on patrol.
    Why is this ? Who keeps it from happening ?
    The citizens have paid for all the equipment to do the job, why isn't that dept. doing it.
    An ounce of prevention, is worth a pound of cure.

    What does it take someone to die before anyone does anything and which they are paid to do.?
    Well someone has died and someone has been inured badly.
    I'm not saying an animal patrol officer would have been on the spot to possibility aid in the attack not happening.
    But how are we to know ? Maybe they would have.

    The tax payers have furnished the money for all equipment and salaries needed for personnel to do their job description--

    Animal Control.

    In case there is another animal , stray, loose family pet or wild animal who wonders in,and which will attack in the future, some kid going home from school ,or to the store. Or some older person who just wants to take a walk without a club of some sort in their hands.
    Give some thought to furnishing the services the people pay for and perhaps some crimes and injuries may be able to be avoided.