Bites to the Face

This week has brought two incidents of dog bites to the face intimately to my awareness. One was a child in the care of my employee. Many dogs frolicking and the 5yo was in the middle of it when the oldest pet who had never shown indication of this before with no provocation bit her on the face = cheek and lip. Other was a medical professional handling a dog with another medical professional and totally out of the blue got bit on the lip, inside the lip and nose. Both dogs are small, less than 20 pounds.

We only hear about Pit Bulls due to the amount of damage that they can cause. True fact: chihuahuas are the most common listed breed for veterinarian related disability claims. They are wicked fast and can be angry little dogs. These dogs were a chihuahua and a terrier mix.

What is going to happen with these two animals? The terrier is moving out of state to a family member who has a ranch, lots of dogs and can handle this situation. My employee is besides herself because this one was her favorite, of course. And the child keeps asking for the dog. The chihuahua is a shelter animal. It is going to remain to be seen after it gets out of bite quarantine (10 days to be sure it doesn’t have rabies).

Unfortunately in the shelter world pets with a bite history are often given the benefit of the doubt. Like there was an adequate explanation for what it did. The concern of course is that it will get out, some young child (see other incident listed here) will bear the consequence of that decision. I would have no issue with euthanizing a dog with the information I have available. However veterinarians rarely have a say in these matters. Incidents are swept under the rug, erased from records, which can endanger those working with the pet in the shelter even. So tragic.

Back to our injured medical professional. There is a long unfortunate ER story of (poor) care provided, lack of knowledge regarding Rabies post exposure prophylaxis. But more significantly is the effect on ones psyche. She thought she understood dogs (“cats, I have no clue, I can’t read them”) and knew better than most the non verbal cues when an aggressive action may occur. Through a combination of not knowing the dog, poor hand off between people, inability to read absent signals an injury occurred. Now she questions her ability to be sure of any dogs intent. And recognizes that if she can’t tell how can most anybody tell? The public, staff, volunteers, etc.

This has absolutely been a severe learning experience.

For all of us.


(BTW, don’t ever get bitten in the nose. When you sneeze it really hurts)

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