According to the laws where I'm from, an animal bite is defined as anything that breaks the skin, including a scratch. And when a dog bite is reported, it's pretty much a death sentence for the dog. When a dog is impounded into a shelter following a bite, chances are it isn't leaving alive. If rabies shots haven't been given or documented, the dog's head has to be tested for rabies. That means that some poor shelter worker has to cut off the dog's head, pack it in ice, and ship it to the State lab. This really happens, all the time. Even to the very nice lab who inadvertently scratches an elderly person with paper-thin skin. Even to the old pekingese who snaps at the child who crawls into his food bowl. And of course, to the chained pit bull who tries to defend herself from a beating.
I know this is a hard topic for some people who have been the victims of dog attacks. I also realize that public safety is important. I'm not suggesting you don't call the law, of course, but I do want people to understand that the minute the law is involved, the dog is dead. Public Safety Officials do not screw around when it comes to bites and rabies control.
Even *if* a "bite dog" is owned and gets through quarantine, most owners won't claim him or her because of stigma, fear, and the boarding fees for the quarantine period. The shelters won't adopt them out for "liability reasons." They are the first to be euth'd to free up shelter space.
I've been bitten by dogs, and it hurts like hell. It scares the shit out of me and it's easy to react from a place of anger. But the circumstances around a dog biting a human are usually complex. Many people have no clue about dog behavior. It's almost never clear whether the dog was provoked, and whether the dog is in fact "vicious" (especially since the definitions under most laws are murky at best). And what if they bite another animal rather than a human? Lots of breeds have been created for that, and now we kill them for it.
A bite is a most basic form of communication. I mean, dogs don't have hands, or English. What are they trying to say? I've seen dogs bite out of love. Extreme love, and the desire to be close, and to play. My dog bite embroidery is a series of linens that have been "altered" by Kaya, the artist, and then embroidered with phrases that I think she might be feeling while she's shredding my linens. The words are a reminder that dogs want family, a lifelong commitment; they are not bodies to be dumped when mistakes have been made, fear sets in and anger shows its teeth.
The Rescue of Kerry
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