Caution around strange dogs

One of the most viewed stories on YouTube and the internet this weekend has been the story of the Denver news anchor who was bitten in the face by a dog on her show Wednesday morning.  This serves as a way to remind us not to put our face in the face of a dog, especially a dog they don’t know well.

Kyle Dyer, the KUSA-TV anchor was doing something we all do when loving on a dog, putting our face in front of the dog and talking “doggie talk” to them.   A few months ago I was visiting with Xalina Labarge, a dog trainer and co-owner of Dog School 101 in Marietta.  One of their clients brought in a dog and I asked for permission to pet it, the owner said sure, so I bent over and started petting the dog.  The dog was about 40 pounds or so and very friendly and I didn’t feel threatened at all.  The dog seemed to enjoy my affection.  After they left, Xalina told me that I should never put my face near the face of a dog that I don’t know.  This could possibly trigger a stress response in a dog, which may cause a dog to bite.  Most bites are due to a stress response based on fear, unfamiliarity, or even a pain reflex.  It’s best to extend out your hand, and allow a dog to come to you first for meet and greet.  I thought about how many times I have done that.  How many times have we even dropped to a knee to pet a dog?  Dyer learned the hard way not to get in a strange dog’s face.   Now before you call me a hypocrite for the picture I have on the blog, this was a dog I was familiar with at the dog’s home.

Many TV stations frequently have pets in the studio, usually they are brought in by someone from a humane society or adoption agency and they maintain control over the animal.  I’ve spent many years around TV studios and regardless of how nice and homey they may look on TV, it’s not the best environment for a pet.  It’s very bright because of the lights, it’s usually very cold because of the lights and there are a lot of things going on off-camera.  The reason Max, an 85 pound Argentine Mastiff, was on the show was that he was rescued from icy waters the day before and the rescue was a big story.  KUSA wanted to show that Max was fine.  Max’s owner released a statement after the incident stating that they were sorry Dyer was injured and wish a quick recovery for her.  They agreed to do the interview at the station’s request to thank the rescue workers.  Sunday night Max was serving a 10 day quarantine, at the end of which his fate will be determined.  KUSA is reporting it is doubtful Max will be put down when it ends.  Dyer was released from the hospital on Thursday after undergoing plastic surgery on her face.  It’s not known when she will be able to return to the air.


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