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Pet Product News Editorial Blog:

Monday, December 14, 2009

Dogs Bite: This is News?

By Sherri Collins

Editor, Pet Product News International

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Dog mauls person. Those three words are practically a guarantee of some form of local news coverage, especially if the dog was of a “suspect” breed and the hurt person, an “innocent” victim. The stories seem to appear on a regular basis, yet every time they occur, both the media and their audiences act shocked at such “animal” behavior. However, if you really think about, why should anyone be surprised when an animal does what it’s evolutionarily programmed to do? Fish swim, birds fly (okay, penguins and ostriches, among others, don’t), snakes slither and, occasionally, dogs bite.

This entire train of thought came about courtesy of a thought-provoking article I read in the Los Angeles Times Friday morning by Kim Murphy about a man who rescues dogs that no one else, not even no-kill shelters or animal welfare groups, will take. Steve Markwell is the founder of Olympic Animal Sanctuary in Forks, Wash. (yes, the same location as “Twilight” vampire series), which, according to his Facebook ad, rescues scary dogs. The sanctuary is a permanent home for “vicious” dogs that have literally nowhere else to go; those that most others would have put down. Currently, the sanctuary houses more than 50 dogs, making it a bit overcrowded, so Steve is seeking funds to relocate to a larger facility.

Steve’s reasoning behind his actions in rescuing these reprobate canines is that if people create vicious dogs, then people should own up to it and care for them, no matter what. What really got my thought processes going, though, was his quote about the true nature of the beast.

“But we can't blame what is essentially a large carnivore for doing what large carnivores do: fighting and killing,” Markwell said. “Dogs and humans are the only living things that aren't allowed to bite. Cats are allowed to bite all they want. Horses are allowed to bite and kick and stamp. A hamster can bite. But when a dog bites, we go crazy.”

 According to the article, there are 4.7 million dog bites reported every year. And since it’s a safe bet that not every incident is reported (or makes the news), one could hazard an observation that a dog biting a human--or any other creature--is a rather common occurrence and not aberrant behavior. Or as Steve puts it, “Just a fact of life.”

Dogs bite…no news at 11.

Click here to read all about Steve and his remarkable sanctuary.

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