Animal Control: Record number of dog bites in 2013

Animal Control: Record number of dog bites in 2013

Lack of leashes, rabies shots continue to plague town

NORTH PROVIDENCE - Animal control officers are responding this year to record numbers of incidents involving dogs biting humans, fellow dogs, and other animals.

North Providence Animal Control Officer Ernie Calandra told The Breeze he's responded to approximately 40 calls for legitimate dog bites, with about half of those at least partly due to owners not having their dogs on leashes.

Calandra said that though he can see reasons for individual attacks, he is having trouble pinpointing exactly why biting incidents are on the rise.

"I don't know what it is this year," he said.

Calandra said he's sure there are many more dog bites than he even hears about, likely happening "on a daily basis," but many are never reported. He did not have numbers from last year to compare to this year.

The town continues to have problems with owners letting their dogs run without leashes, said Calandra, and many don't realize that their dogs, especially smaller ones, can often still get away even if their yards are fenced in.

Calandra wasn't sure exactly how many of the attacks involved dogs attacking humans, but did note that about "30 percent," or about a dozen of the attacks have involved pit bulls.

One particularly "tragic" attack involved a small dog that escaped from its yard as a man was walking his two larger dogs by the home, said Calandra. The owner of the smaller dog witnessed her pet being killed almost instantly. The larger dogs were "well kept," said Calandra, and the incident was considered a provoked attack.

"He held him and that was the end of it," he said. "It was really sad, really unfortunate."

North Providence has a leash law, said Calandra, and it's up to pet owners in this tight-knit community to "keep the dog from leaving the property," whether that means the installation of a strong fence, an invisible fence or some other means of keeping them contained.

Even the owner of a pet that seems well contained but escapes is held liable for that pet's actions, said Calandra.

One of his biggest issues continues to be with owners who repeatedly forget to get their pets rabies shots, said Calandra.

"I wish I could put a billboard up somewhere telling people to get their pets rabies shots," he said.

State law requires that an unvaccinated dog involved in a biting incident needs to either be put down or kept quarantined at the animal shelter for six months. The owner is charged a per-day fee for the service, he said.

Rabies clinics at the North Providence Animal Shelter and other shelters are held from March to May, said Calandra, and rabies shots typically go for about $10 or $12. Even if a pet owner missed the spring rabies clinics, a quick internet search can reveal pet stores in the area that are offering the shots at other times, he said. A rabies shot is good for three years.

A dog that has had its shots and is involved in a biting incident only has to be quarantined for 10 days and the quarantine can happen at the owner's home, said Calandra.

"It's much more comfortable for everyone involved," he said.

For more from North Providence Animal Control, visit www.nprovshelter.com .