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Dog expert's call to action to prevent fatal attacks

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

The warning from Cork-based canine and animal behaviour expert, Nanci Creedon, came after children in Tipperary and Limerick were injured in serious dog attacks over recent weeks.

Jack Sage Foran (3) was left with deep cuts to his head after he was "shaken like a teddybear" when a collie attacked him in Nenagh, Co Tipperary last weekend.

Abbey Cuddihy (6) suffered serious facial injuries when she was mauled by an American Akita, a similar breed to a husky, on a Limerick housing estate last March.

She required 17 stitches to a facial wound, with her mother admitting she was "shocked" by the scale of injuries.

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

"It is coming and it is time we cop 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.

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

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

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"Up until 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 in into our lifestyles without us understanding the dog."

She urged parents to educate their children about not approaching or hugging dogs, especially strange dogs they come across, as it can be interpreted by the dog as a threat.

Ms Creedon said there were some simple steps to avoid being bitten or attacked:

{HTML_BULLET} Dogs will signal before biting, including looking away from the source of stress, moving away, staring, lifting their lip into an Elvis curl, growling, snarling, pretend bite, lunging forward and finally a real bite.

{HTML_BULLET} Do not punish a dog for communicating its stress in such a manner. It is merely trying to issue a warning.

{HTML_BULLET} Dogs, as a general rule, hate hugs and kisses.

{HTML_BULLET} Children should never, ever put their face near a dog's muzzle.

{HTML_BULLET} Dogs confuse new born babies with toys – always keep infants well out of a dog's reach.

{HTML_BULLET} Never, ever corner a dog.

Studies have shown that attacks are not breed specific.

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