The Star-Herald

Cute photos or not?

Most of us scroll through Facebook posts and we all love the photos of various pets and family shots.  But recently I saw many photos of kids and dogs and the title was “These Photos Are Not Cute — They are Dangerous.”

Most of the photos were of very young kids sitting on dogs, babies laying on dogs, kids butting heads, pulling on ears, tugging on toys or pulling on the dog’s snout.  

It’s estimated that children make up 60 percent to 70 percent of dog bites in the U.S. each year.  Children are also more likely than adults to receive medical attention for dog bites.

Dogs are living creatures and each has its limits.  Just because he usually tolerates it fine, doesn’t mean he won’t get fed up and rightfully defend himself someday.  Dogs should not have to tolerate uncomfortable treatment. Children should be taught to respect other creatures and learn that they have feelings too.  Expecting a dog to “deal with it” because he is the family dog is not fair, and not realistic. Animals have emotions and will react accordingly.

People don’t realize their own beloved dog can, for some reason, unexpectedly and tragically, lash out. Maybe the dog has pain that’s new. As dogs age, they can develop arthritis, or experience pain for any number of reasons. If a child is climbing all over a dog, pulling on it, they may inflict pain that causes the dog to react.

Also, dogs correct younger dogs by growling and bites, which don’t inflict the same damage on a puppy’s skin as they do on a child. It is their natural instinct to correct and protect themselves. People need to stop thinking of dogs as little humans; they are animals with instincts and natural reactions.  Bites happen when we don’t teach our children to be respectful of a pet’s space and boundaries.

Before approaching a dog and its owner, ASK FIRST. Don’t just assume that because the dog is small and cute, it’s OK to pet and touch it. This goes for adults, too.

Every dog owner should be educated on body language and boundaries; it’s sad what some dogs have to go through due to misunderstanding or lack of knowledge about dog behaviors.

Learn dog body language and try to make a point of supervising especially young children. It only takes a second for something to happen. 

Looking for a new pet to join your family?  Stop by the Central Aroostook Humane Society and also check us out on Facebook.  Our hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, closing for lunch from 12 to 12:30.  

Remember to be responsible: spay and neuter your pets.

Gloria J. Towle is the secretary and a member of the board of directors of the Central Aroostook Humane Society.

Get the Rest of the Story

Thank you for reading your 4 free articles this month. To continue reading, and support local, rural journalism, please subscribe.