Dangerous dogs among us - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Dangerous dogs among us

February 9, 2007

Albany -- Animal control officers often respond to calls dealing with aggressive and mean dogs. But right now in Albany, there are no dogs officially classified as "dangerous" and just one dangerous dog in Dougherty County.

In order to meet that classification the animal must inflict a severe injury in an unprovoked attack. The owner must then register the pet with Animal Control and pay fees.

Animal Control and Environmental Health says there are still plenty of dogs out there that can put your safety at risk, and tell us why.

Animal Control Agent Tamara Piercey says no matter what the breed, any dog may attack if provoked. She says small children are often attacked because they are loud and make many movements that can scare a dog. But everyone's at risk, so watch out anytime an unfamiliar dog approaches you.

"Just be very still and very quiet, and hopefully the dog will just sniff you and go about its business. Sometimes if you use a very firm voice and say 'no!' or 'get back!' That sometimes works too," said Piercey.

There may be another threat. Animals who aren't vaccinated may have rabies, which easily transfers to a human or another animal through the infected animal's saliva. Environmental Health says it's a problem here that can lead to death.

"It is endemic in our area, meaning it's common in the wildlife. We need to vaccinate our domestic animals. We need to report bites to the health department for us to work and give people advice on what to do," said Mel Jones.

Environmental Health director Mel Jones says the symptoms to look out for include convulsions, vicious behavior or foaming at the mouth. And if you see an animal like this, call professionals.

Animal Control says having a pet comes with the responsibility of making sure it's not a threat to others. That means getting them vaccinated, keeping them confined and on a leash. They say owners who follow the rules, are more likely to have a well-behaved pet.

"By and large, the pets that are well-socialized, well-loved, and not abused, and cared for, are okay. Not to be feared," said Agent Tamara Piercey.

But some animals are exceptions, and experts say if you don't know them don't touch them. Call Animal Control to professionally handle the animal instead.

If you are bitten by a stray dog or wild animal, you should report it immediately to Environmental Health. You may need to start getting a series of rabies shots quickly. The vaccine isn't effective after symptoms appear.

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