Tuesday 10 December 2019

Fatal attack by dog is 'just a matter of time,' experts warn

Paola Sahovic with the dog that attacked her
Paola Sahovic with the dog that attacked her

Ralph Riegel

An animal behaviour expert has warned that it is only a matter of time before Ireland suffers a fatal dog attack.

The warning from canine and animal behaviour expert, Nanci Creedon, came after doctors were left fighting to save the arm of Paola Sahovic (22) who was mauled by the family's pet Staffordshire dog.

Paola suffered horrific injuries to her arm last Monday when she was attacked by the dog at her home in Mitchelstown, Co Cork.

Her screams alerted neighbours and it took up to seven gardaí to fight the dog off the shocked woman.

One local said the dog was effectively eating the woman's arm with the limb having been mauled down to the bone.

Paola remains in a stable condition but it remains unclear whether surgeons can save her arm.

Over the past two years, serious dog attacks have also occurred in Dublin, Limerick and Tipperary.

The breeds involved have included Collies, Akita (similar to a Husky) and Bull Terriers.

Ms Creedon admitted it has been "a miracle" Ireland has avoided fatal dog attacks similar to those in the UK and US.

"We are just very, very lucky to have not yet had a fatality. It is coming and it is time we copped on and do what we can to prevent it," she said.

In both the UK and US the numbers dying or being maimed in such dog attacks has spiralled over recent years.

Some 20 people have been mauled to death in the UK since 2005.

In Ireland, An Post said an average of two its postal delivery workers are bitten by dogs each week.

Ms Creedon argued that the problem has been a total transformation in dog treatment in Ireland over the past 20 years.

"Up until the past 15 years or so we have had a lot less contact with dogs - they were out roaming and this meant they had a lot more socialisation and mental stimulation," she said.

"We are now taking better care by keeping dogs secure, but we're expecting dogs to just understand how to fit into our lifestyles without us understanding the dog."

Irish Independent

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