Written by Douglas Erickson
No doubt about it – for many people, especially for children, there is nothing more tempting than to touch an animal when it is in reach. However, there are many types of animals that do not like human contact. Even the kindest domesticated animals can react violently when they believe they are threatened. Before approaching or reaching for an animal it is important to think about safety first.
Judy Crumpton, Humane Educator, and Animal Welfare Activist of Long Beach, CA provide several tips for on safety around animals and the safe way to meet a strange dog.
Safety around animals:
- Do not bother animals when they are eating or sleeping.
- Always ask permission before handling so someone else's pet.
- Move slowly and talk quietly around animals.
- Leave mother animals alone when they are with their babies.
- Leave wildlife alone. Wild animals can bite and scratch. A wild animal that acts friendly may be sick and could make you sick, too.
- In the outdoors, watch where you put your hands and feet.
- Never tease an animal or use an animal to scare another person.
- Do not stick your fingers in cages.
The safe way to meet a strange dog:
- Stand quietly with your arms at your side.
- Do not shout at the dog. Do not wave your arms, grab at the dog, or run away.
- If a dog looks frightened or angry walk away.
Please consider other tips when approaching or reaching for a dog:
- Ask a dog owner for permission to touch their dog.
- Once permission received, slowly place your hand in front of the dog's nose allowing him to get a scent of you.
- Do not reach over a fence, through a gate, or reach into a car to touch an unfamiliar dog. In most cases, the friendliest of dogs will want to protect his or her territory.
In an event you are worried you are about to be attacked by a dog the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) offers five tips to help avoid attack:
- Resist the impulse to scream and run away.
- Remain motionless, hands at your sides, and avoid eye contact with the dog.
- Once the dog loses interest in you, slowly back away until he is out of sight.
- If a dog begins to lunge at you "feed" him your jacket, purse, bicycle, or anything that you can put between yourself and the dog.
- If you fall or you are knocked down to the ground, curl into a ball with your hands over your ears, head, and face with your arms and hands, and remain motionless. Try not to scream or roll around.
In the unfortunate event you are attacked and bit by a dog or any other animal you should:
- Clean the wound with antiseptic soap and water.
- Visit your physician or nearest emergency care clinic for treatment.
- Contact your local animal control agency. They will want to obtain as much information about the animal and the location of the attack. If possible, return to the area to learn if there were any witnesses. Try to get address of dog owner if attacked by a dog. This information is imperative to the investigation of a dog/animal attack.
Remember, think safety when around animals. All living creatures, even the more tames animals, have instincts to protect themselves when they feel threatened.