Wild dog woes... Are humans to be blamed if they bite?

Dogs bite, and we are vulnerable. Should we be scared? When a Sri Lankan lady was walking her dog in Al Nahda area Sunday evening, she was surprised by two stray dogs that bit her hand and knee. Six hours later, the unfortunate lady ran into the same dogs again, while taking an alternative route home. This time she was bitten in her neck, and her dog became victim too. That day, she saw the hospital twice.

Living in a civilized society we do not necessarily consider the possibility of running into wild animals. Stray dogs, however, are everywhere. They breed, are bred or are abandoned by their previous owners. Running into a stray dog in the UAE is not unlikely at all.

Do we have to be afraid, then?

Not at all, thinks Raghad Auttabashi. “Dogs do not attack normal people.”

Raghat works as an animal rescuer and has founded Al Rahma Animal Welfare Society, Abu Dhabi in 1997. “I find many stray dogs. But in all those years I have never been bitten. “I trust dogs,” she continues. “I think they will only bite when they are scared, or feel threatened. It is very natural that dogs or cats live around humans, and we can benefit from them. We do not have to be afraid of them,” she explains.

Giath Al Falasi, Head of Inspection of the Veterinary Services Section, Dubai Municipality tells that in the emirate of Dubai dog bites are rare. “It happens maybe once or twice a year, and never are these serious cases. In the nine years that I am on this position I have never heard of any serious cases,” he tells.

It is recommended that a person who gets bitten by a dog visits the hospital. In hospital the victim will be vaccinated against rabies or tetanus.

“If possible, the dog should be brought in for inspection,” says Giath. “We will keep the dog for 21 days to see if it has any infectious diseases.”

Apart from the medical checkup Dubai Municipality also monitors the behaviour of a dog that has been brought in. “We see if the dog shows aggressive behaviour. A dog does not need to be aggressive to bite, it may have responded to a certain situation,” explains Giath.

But if the dog does appear to be aggressive he will be put to sleep, says the municipality officer. For Raghat this policy is unfair. “Instead of killing the dog we should put much more effort into educating people. This is nature, and we need to learn how to deal with it. Anybody dealing with a dog should know how to deal with this creature, from breeder to owner.”

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