Spike in dog bites results in concern

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 16, 1999

A neighborhood dog jumped on an 8-year-old and bit him in the back.

Thursday, September 16, 1999

A neighborhood dog jumped on an 8-year-old and bit him in the back. An Albert Lea homeowner was bitten by a loose dog in his driveway. A mother and her infant were snapped at by a dog they were watching for a friend.

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With six dog bites reported in the past 10 days, Albert Lea residents are being warned to steer clear of loose dogs, and dog owners are being told to keep their dogs leashed.

Albert Lea Assistant Police Chief Dwaine Winkels said the large number of dog bite reports recently doesn’t appear to be a trend, but does give reason for concern.

&uot;It’s a shock that we have that many,&uot; he said.

Winkels added the shock is heightened because at least half the animals were running loose in the city.

&uot;We can’t have dogs running loose in the city and attacking people,&uot; he said.

On Sept. 7 and Sept. 8, dogs attacked other dog owners while they were walking their own animals. The dog that bit a man in his driveway was known to run loose in the neighborhood.

While several of the bites were first-time incidents, Winkels said some of the dogs on the list already had a mark against them, meaning they are developing a habit of biting people.

&uot;Those with multiple bite incidents will be ordered put down or kept under lock,&uot; he said.

Still, even many of the first-time offenders warrant close watching.

&uot;We are declaring most of the animals as potentially dangerous,&uot; Winkels said.

Another reason Winkels said the recent bites are disturbing is because most reports offer no reason for the attacks. There was no provocation.

&uot;In the cases with the children, that’s scary,&uot; he said.

Winkels said parents should be cautious when their children are playing with dogs or when a loose dog might be near.

While he said he doesn’t like listing a specific breed as a potential attacker, the assistant chief said some are more prone to attacks then others.

&uot;Our statistics hold that out,&uot; he said.

Of the six recent bites, one was by a rottweiler, another by a German shepherd and a third was credited to a pit bull. The dogs in the other incidents weren’t identified by breed.

Still, Winkels said it isn’t only large dogs that can be aggressive.

&uot;We’ve had to declare some little dogs dangerous,&uot; he recalled.

Likewise, he said all dogs involved in bites aren’t deemed a threat.

&uot;Not all dog bites are the dog’s fault,&uot; he said, noting some bites occur from provocation or fear. &uot;You can’t blame a dog for defending itself.&uot;

Still, all dog bites are a concern and should be reported, he said.

Once a report is made, police will determine whether the animal is a threat and also check records for rabies shots. The dogs will also likely be observed for 14 days.

As for the victim, anyone bitten should seek medical attention, said an Albert Lea Medical Center representative.

Physician Assistant Heather Lunning said the first move should be to clean the wound. Then, medical attention is needed.

&uot;It really should be looked at right away after it is treated,&uot; she said, noting 24-hours is the longest a bite victim should wait.

Unfortunately, she said many people wait until the bite becomes infected and sore, something that is common with dog bites.

&uot;Dogs and cats have a lot of bacteria that will cause infection,&uot; she said.

As a result, most bite victims are treated with an antibiotic.

While some bites might be deep enough to warrant added measures, Lunning said it is uncommon for them to need sutures.

&uot;Usually dog wounds are not sewn up unless they are on the face,&uot; she noted.

If a bite wound is bleeding heavily, Lunning said pressure should be applied after cleaning the area with an antibacterial soap.

As for the threat of rabies or other disease, Lunning said it’s important that the dog be identified and detained for observation.

But, she warns not to try detaining a dog alone. She suggested calling the police to snare the animal.