JUNE 3, 2010 8:31 a.m. (0)
The three dogs that attacked a Greenville man in March were never found, Greenville Police Sgt. Jason Rampey said.
Al Hammer was bitten on his hands and right thigh while walking in the Augusta Circle neighborhood on March 15. The puncture wounds required more than 200 stitches at Greenville Memorial Hospital.
Animal control, EMS and police officers responded the day of the incident but pursuing the case further is up to Hammer, Rampey said.
The city’s leash law requires dogs to be on a leash and under control in public, he said. Residents can pursue civil litigation for this type of incident but police officers will not be involved unless they are subpoenaed, Rampey said.
“We deal with (civil litigation) daily,” he said. “For automobile accidents and fights.”
Hammer’s son, Jeff Hammer, said the city has not held anyone in the neighborhood responsible for the dog attack.
Jeff Hammer said he hopes the recent dog attack against Greenville singer Edwin McCain’s 4-year-old son will “bring into light the fact that the city does have lax dog laws.”
His father has hired a lawyer and the family declined to comment further.
McCain could not be reached.
Spartanburg was the only county in South Carolina with a confirmed case of rabies in a dog in 2008, according to the most recent data on DHEC’s web site. Greenville and Spartanburg had a combined total of 20 rabies cases, most cases were found foxes or raccoons.
Desiree Beauchamp-Jones, a professional dog trainer in Greenville who has seven years of experience, said the key to preventing dog attacks is to correct a pet’s aggressive behavior early on.
Most of Beauchamp-Jones’ clients at Rapid Response Professional Dog Training have had their dog for some time, gradually noticing aggressive behavior. They turn to professional pet help only after the dog has done something more serious such as attempting to bite someone.
Territoriality, a dog’s personality, negative associations and abuse are reasons a dog may bite or attack, the trainer said. Most commonly, what causes aggression to get out of control is the owner not knowing how to correct unwanted behavior.
“It can be as simple as barking at the UPS man,” Beauchamp-Jones said.
If the owner does nothing the dog has learned a new behavior and the owner’s inaction has reinforced bad behavior.
Education, especially on the parents’ part, is important to preventing a dog attack before a dog feels threatened or upset. Children are bitten more often than adults, not because of their size, but because children tend to make quick movements and are more likely to yell at a dog, she said
“It’s important that people realize that although we live with dogs and they are a part of our society, they are still animals,” she said. “People can educate themselves about how dogs see the world.”
If you’re in a standoff with a dog, Beauchamp-Jones said there is a correct way to deescalate the situation. Here’s what she suggests:
1. Walk slowly away, without turning your back on the dog. A dog acting aggressive out of fear will interpret you turning your back as an invitation to bite.
2. Don’t make eye contact. A confident, non-fearful dog will feel threatened by any eye contact.
3. Don’t yell, wave your arms or make any sudden movements.
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