Logan Braatz, 6, was killed by dogs on his way to school Tuesday morning, and Syari Sanders, 5, was seriously injured, while reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
I’m sick of it. My thoughts are with the family of the boy who lost his life, the injured girl and her loved ones, and all who witnessed this horrific scene.
Reports say neighbors had previously seen the two dogs, a Border Collie and a Pit Bull, roaming free in the neighborhood. This time something happened – something unthinkable and horrible.
Why? I hope that a full investigation will shed light on this for the good of the community. The owner, Cameron Tucker, has been charged with two counts of reckless driving and one count of manslaughter, the newspaper reports. Police shot dead one dog at the scene and Fulton County Animal Control took the other into custody.
I would like to focus here on how we can all come together to prevent such incidents. To do this, we need to better understand as a society how dogs move and breathe in the world we share.
Dogs are instinctive predators
Even though dogs have been domesticated for thousands of years, their hunting and hunting instincts are extremely strong. Breed has little to do with this behavior, and any dog ââof any size can exhibit it; some show their prey more than others. This predatory instinct, for the most part, is something that many of us love about dogs. Go looking, keep sheep, huntâ¦ should I continue?
Predatory behavior, however, is not recognized as aggression, as it is distinguished by the need to survive by chasing food, even if dogs no longer need to feed. It’s just what they do. In other words, it is normal behavior. If he moves, they chase him away.
However, a normal predator hunt can turn unpleasant within seconds. (I recently wrote an article on this exact behavior.) A dog behind a fence, on a leash, or in a car can be excited to the point of being aggressive, as shown in the image above. Dogs that have not been well socialized can be frustrated with everyday events such as children or other animals walking around, and constant exposure to these events can trigger excessive arousal in a dog, transforming a behavior. normal predator into full-blown aggression.
This can especially be the case when there is a group of dogs (two or more would be considered a group) involved. We saw him at the dog park when a fight breaks out and other dogs rush to join us. Dogs pick up energy, magnifying theirs, and it can go from zero to 10 in a flash. The situation can become fatal, especially if these animals are free.
How to deal with stray dogs
We can take steps to get potentially dangerous dogs off the streets. As a society, we also need to teach our children to read and behave with dogs. Here’s how to do both:
- If you see a stray dog, check around the neighborhood to find out where the dog lives. If you do, go home and tell the owner to keep their pet confined. Tell them if they don’t comply, you’ll call animal control.
- Call animal control whenever you see the stray dog ââand ask your neighbors to do the same until the animal is picked up. Often officers wait until there are three complaints before going out. Be careful. Enter the animal control office number on your phone so you’re ready to call when you see stray dogs.
- Use social media tools such as The next door to display sightings of dogs in the wild and educate neighbors. You can help reunite a safe pet with its family, or you can help get a dangerous dog off the streets.
- Take your children to school. If there are dogs roaming free on a particular street, choose an alternate route and call animal control.
- Teach your children to behave around dogs in general. Teach them not to yell, run, tease, or look directly at an animal. Crazy doggone has a game that teaches kids how to have fun and be safe with dogs. Teaching children to freeze like in the poster below can go a long way in overpowering a roaming dog as the dog may find them boring. Teach children not to panic and yell, but rather to look down, not look the dog in the eye, and stay as calm as possible. It’s easier said than done, but if kids learn this and practice, they have a better chance of remembering it when needed.
- Hold a neighborhood meeting and invite a behavior professional to talk about dog body language and how to behave appropriately with dogs. Ask your children’s school to do the same.
We all need to work to prevent another child, or an adult for that matter, from becoming a dog bite or death statistic. Together we CAN make a difference.
Top photo: Courtesy Channel 2 Action News
About the Author: Jill Breitner is a professional dog trainer and canine body language expert. She is certified as Without fear Professional and professional fearless for the foundation for puppies and kittens, as well as certified in Animal behavior and welfare. She is the author of Dog decoder, a smartphone app on dog body language. Join Jill on her on her Facebook page.