Jeremy Thurman on March 6, 2012
Often when a dog attack makes the news, it involves a stray or loose dog going after someone. Unfortunately, people are also sometimes bitten by their own dogs. This was the case for Cuban-born gymnast Danell Leyva who was bitten by his American bulldog on February 20.
Leyva’s three American bulldogs got into a fight in his back yard. Leyva tried to break up the fight, and then picked up one of his dogs, Pirata (Spanish for pirate) to carry the dog into the house.
One of the other dogs lunged, Leyva turned, and in the excitement, Pirata accidentally bit Leyva on the side of the face. Once he got inside and was able to examine the bite, Leyva found his right ear hanging down from a large gash.
Emergency services were called, and 20-year-old Leyva was eventually treated by a plastic surgeon, receiving approximately 80 internal and external stitches. After the stitches were removed, there is little trace of the bite, and Leyva is back at practice, preparing for the London Olympics.
Not everyone is so lucky. About 4.7 million dog bites occur in the United States every year, nearly 800,000 of which require medical attention. The majority of dog bites and dog attacks are due to the dogs’ owners’ irresponsibility. A large percentage of dog attacks involve male dogs that are not neutered, and another large portion involve chained dogs.
Dog owners must care for and treat their dogs responsibly and humanely, and take steps to ensure their dogs are unable to get loose, although this does not mean chaining a dog and leaving it outside, which can lead to aggression.
If you or a loved one is attacked by a dog, you have recourse against the dog’s owner. It’s our hope, though, that education can lead to responsible pet ownership, and a reduction in dog abuse, which will in turn lead to a reduction in the number of dog attacks that happen every year.
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