Tuesday, April 7, 2015

5 things to do if you see someone attacked by a dog.

Despite the title, this is not one of THOSE articles. 

I hate clickbait articles that purport to give you ten things that will save you marriage, or five things you didn't know about the celebrity family that we know far too much about. But I was contacted the other day by a national magazine publishing an article about "How to be (or not be) a hero". They looked at scenarios where people might want to intervene and help out someone that is being victimized actively in one way or another. The answer is mostly "Don't. Call 911. Let the professionals do this!"

The author still presents advice, and asked me about responding to a dog attack. Honestly, I get this kind of question fairly regularly. Even for professionals, getting involved is very dangerous when it comes to a dog attack. Dog attacks are really scary-and chances are any savior will also get injured, potentially very seriously. Yet we all want to help when we see someone in trouble. 

If you insist on intervening as a good guy you need to think about a couple things.

First off, CALL 911. GET REAL HELP. 

When that is done, IF you decide you just have to do something...
1) DON'T BECOME THE NEXT VICTIM!  Many dogs aroused to attack will, if deprived of their first target, redirect. That means they release one thing and bite the next thing they can reach. That may be you. As they told us as young cops learning to drive fast, you're no help if you don't get there. Battle scars may be cool, but trust me-dog bites hurt like hell. Don't add to the victim count.
2) Try not to scream in panic! The victim is already probably doing that and it just makes things worse. Instead, yell loud and low "NO! LEAVE IT ! SIT!" Yell like you really mean it. Like a drill sergeant. Yell with authority and direction. Sometimes it even works.
3) Try to use something non-human to stick between the victim and the dog. A trashcan lid-or the whole trash can. A big piece of wood. A backpack. Anything that can separate the dog and victim.
4) IMPROVISE. If you can grab a fire extinguisher, hose that puppy down. It will distract and probably drive them away. You can clean up later. If you have a loud noise maker like an air horn, use it to startle and distract the dog. Water works too sometimes.
5) DON'T REACH IN BETWEEN THE DOG AND THE VICTIM. If you feel that you HAVE to put your hands in there, grab the dog from behind, by the back legs. Keep space between you and the business end. The dog, if cranked enough, may turn and redirect to you, so part two is pull the dog back, spin him using his legs as a handle, and toss that bad boy away from you and the victim. THEN use something to keep him from coming back a you, like a physical object or a barrier. Will this harm the dog? Most likely. Is it humane? No. But it works, and we are talking saving a human life here. Firearms should only be used by a trained professional, and then mostly not. Flying lead is more dangerous than the dog. Dogs are small, moving targets in direct contact with the victim. That's too close for a safe shot.
There you go. My five tips on how to play hero and probably get yourself bitten by getting into the middle of a dog attack. Here is the predictable warning in plain terms in case you weren't really listening above:

IF YOU GET INVOLVED IN A DOG ATTACK YOU WILL PROBABLY BE INJURED, MAYBE SERIOUSLY, POSSIBLY WORSE THAN YOU CAN IMAGINE SO IT IS YOUR DECISION ALONE AND I AM NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ANYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO YOU. YOU ARE ON YOUR OWN.

If you do put on your Superman cape and jump in, try and remember the above suggestions. They might just help you suffer a little less. Who knows: it might just work.

Link to the Men's Health article here: When you should and shouldn't be a hero