Dog bites man not an unusual story in Summit |

Dog bites man not an unusual story in Summit

Shauna Farnell

Humane Society Tips to Prevent Dog Bites

– Don’t run past a dog. The dog’s natural instinct is to chase and catch.

– If a dog threatens you, avoid eye contact, don’t scream, and try to remain motionless until the dog settles down, then back away slowly.

– Don’t approach strange dogs. If petting a dog, let it sniff you first.

– When strangers come to the door or onto your property, keep the dog inside and under control before opening the door.

SUMMIT COUNTY – Since there is little postal delivery in Summit County, there are few “dog bites mail carrier” incidents, but dog owners and people entering property where dogs are still should be aware of the possibility of bites.

Because 3,138 letter carriers across the country were bitten by dogs last year, the United States Postal Service and Humane Society declared May 19-25 National Dog Bite Prevention Week.

According to Summit County Animal Control officers, most local postal carriers carry dog biscuits in their trucks, and haven’t, on the whole, been frequent dog-bite victims. However, dog bites occur with regularity, and animal control officers say many of those could have been prevented.

“We have more problems with meter readers,” said Summit County Animal Control officer Lesley Craig. “We’ve had one that was bitten. She didn’t even see the dog until it bit her. It was a sneak attack. Mainly, what we see is meter readers that can’t access the house because of dogs. It’s understandable. The dogs are protecting their territory.”

The Humane Society reports that small children are the most frequent dog bite victims throughout the United States. This also holds true in Summit County.

“It’s usually accidental,” Animal Control officer Scott Wanke said of dog vs. kids. “It might be an old dog with bad hips, and a little kid grabs it or runs into it and gets a quick nip. It’s (the dog’s) reflex response when something hurts them.”

In some bite cases, the dog might be acting out of line, but the majority of the time there is some provocation by the child.

“Sometimes kids don’t know how to behave around dogs,” Craig said. “Kids will step on them, drop things on them while they’re sleeping, poke at them … a lot of the time, kids are at eye-level with a dog and get bit on the face. Understandably, people get real upset about that.”

In unprovoked biting incidents – a dog runs into the street and bites a child riding a bike past the house – Craig said it could be a case of the canine’s play drive. In any case, though, dog owners are responsible when their dogs bite.

“You are liable for medical expenses if your dog bites,” she said. “We can designate a dog as potentially dangerous or dangerous … We look at the whole circumstances surrounding the bite. Were there injuries? Was the dog protecting itself? Did it jump a six-foot fence and run across the street to bite someone?

“We tell people, don’t assume anything. You don’t know sometimes what triggers a bite.”

Shauna Farnell can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 236, or at

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