Tampa Bay area expert talks responsible dog ownership

TAMPA, FL (WFLA) – It’s no doubt Padi the lab’s story is sad. The dog bit off part a 4-year-old boy’s ear. Many in Manatee County feel the dog was provoked. The boy was with a babysitter visiting the dog’s owner, veterinarian Dr. Paul Gartenberg. While playing with the dog, the boy chased the dog under a desk and the dog bit off part of his ear.

An attorney told 8 On Your side the boy will need extensive medical attention to fully repair the ear. State law requires any dog involved in a dangerous attacked be seized and euthanized. This tragic story has 8 on Your Side thinking about responsible dog ownership. Pam Backer, the Director of Shelter Operations at the Humane Society of Tampa Bay, is not involved with Padi’s case but tells 8 on Your Side we can all learn a lot from this sad situation.

“We never think our pets would do something vicious so I use this analogy. Say your child breaks a neighbor’s window,” Backer said. “You’re responsible for the window because it’s your child. It’s the same with a dog.”

Backer admits we “don’t have a crystal ball” and don’t know how our animals will react. She reminds pet owners to check for signs their animal is uncomfortable like rigid body form, strange eye contact, mouth is closed, etc. In Padi’s case, some feel the dog was provoked. Again, Backer doesn’t want to comment on this situation since she’s not involved, but recommends the following for safe dog ownership.

  • Secure your pet
  • If your dog is nervous, don’t encourage or force him to be in a situation
  • Teach your kids to ask before petting an animal
  • Know your dog’s body language
  • Don’t assume your dog won’t respond if provoke

A hearing officer is expected to make a decision in Padi’s case sometime next week.

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