Friday, March 17, 2017

Idaho: Couple wants tough collar rules after violent encounter with pit bulls

IDAHO -- Mary and Sergio Miranda were walking their dog in the Wilson Park Trail area one afternoon late last month when they came upon another dog owner who was sitting on a bench with her two pit bulls, both on leashes.

The Mirandas said they were cautious and uncertain about the pit bulls, yet decided to proceed along their way, keeping their 7-year-old Siberian husky, Mishka, between them. As they got closer, the pit bulls suddenly lunged and ran at them, wrenching their leashes from the owner’s grasp.

Initially the pit bulls began attacking Mishka’s hindquarters. In the chaos, Sergio Miranda was knocked over on to the ground, while Mary Miranda, trying to break up the scuffle, got her left hand bitten by one of the pit bulls. She too fell to the ground.

“I kicked one of the dogs and lost my footing,” Sergio Miranda said of the Feb. 25 attack. “My wife started screaming.”

Moments later, some construction workers nearby and others rushed to help. The workers reached into the scrum and pulled the pit bulls away and secured them to a truck. Another bystander helped Mary Miranda clean up the puncture wounds on her hand.

Nampa Police, Canyon County Animal Control and paramedics showed up on scene after someone made an emergency 911 call.

In the aftermath, the couple drove Mishka to a local veterinary clinic for treatment and care. Ultimately, Mishka underwent three hours of surgery to sew up a large wound near his hind leg. The dog suffered several other smaller cuts and punctures in the attack and continues to be monitored for some tissue damage.

Mary Miranda also paid a visit to the hospital. At the time she was still recovering from recent spinal fusion, so doctors ordered X-rays to make sure the encounter didn’t cause any damage to the surgical repairs. Doctors also stitched her hand to aid the healing of five separate bite marks.

Despite his fall, Sergio Miranda, who had recently had shoulder surgery, didn’t require any medical care after the attack.

For the Mirandas, the hope now is that local or state policymakers will take notice and consider additional restrictions and protective measures for owners of larger dogs, steps like requiring electric, choke or prong-type collars.

“Until this happened, I never thought of making them mandatory,” Mary Miranda said of the more restrictive collars. “I hope this goes up the chain in the state of Idaho.”

Such collars deliver sharp discomfort via a series of spikes to the neck when dogs pull too hard or aggressively on a leash. Mary Miranda said she and her husband trained Mishka on an electric shock-style collar when he was 8 months old. They still outfit Mishka with a choke collar when they take him for walks.

“They don’t really hurt the dog,” Mary Miranda said. “Mishka pulled once, yelped, and since then he hasn’t. He behaves differently when he wears the choke collar, he knows what it does.”

The city of Nampa has no breed-specific ordinances on the books related to big or vicious dogs. Last year, the Idaho Legislature approved a new law related to dangerous and at-risk dogs. The law doesn’t single out specific breeds and deals specifically with dogs that attack humans without any provocation. The law provides that any person, parent or guardian of a minor who has been bitten or attacked by a dog can ask a court judge to declare that dog dangerous or at risk.

If a dog is deemed dangerous, judges have discretion to impose a variety of restrictions, including ordering that the dog be humanely put to death. The law also includes penalties for dog owners who fail to obey court-ordered restrictions on dangerous dogs.

Despite the attack, Mishka seems unfazed and has resumed socializing with other dogs. The Mirandas have no plans to take any legal action against the owner of the pit bulls. The Canyon County Sheriff’s Office concluded there was no criminal negligence involved.

“I’m not saying (the owner) didn’t try to control the dogs,” Mary Miranda said. “They just pulled, and she went flying. Big dogs need more control. They need to be restrained.”

(East Idaho News - March 13, 2017)

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