Risk of dog bites reduced when pet is spayed or neutered, properly trained, experts say

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 9 2013 2:55 p.m. MDT

According to the Davis County Animal Care and Control, none of the dogs, including the victim in Monday's attack, were spayed or neutered. Experts say dogs that are not spayed or neutered are more likely to attack or bite someone than those that have been fixed.

Mike DeBernardo, Deseret News

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SALT LAKE CITY — Cherie Bloom is recovering after being attacked by two pit bulls Monday in Layton.

While there is no way to guarantee a dog won’t bite someone, experts say there are some things people can do to reduce the risk.

Pansy is a pit bull, a rescued animal and a loving pet, owner Temma Martin said.

"She's a kisser," Martin said.

Pansy has never shown aggressive behavior, she said. Since Martin has a 4-year-old son and two other dogs, another pit bull and a Labrador, she made sure Pansy wasn't aggressive before she brought the dog home.

Martin said Pansy gets along well with children and other dogs and has no problem succumbing to a belly rub.

Through her work for Best Friends Animal Society, Martin took the dog through training courses, and she keeps her socialized with other dogs and people. She's also had Pansy spayed.

"The first on nearly any list on preventing dog bites is to have your dog spayed and neutered," Martin said.

According to the National Canine Research Foundation, male dogs that are not neutered are 2.6 times more likely to bite than neutered dogs. The research group also found that female dogs in heat or nursing are more dangerous than spayed females.

According to Davis County Animal Care and Control, none of the dogs, including the victim of Monday's attack, were spayed or neutered.

Bloom was walking her 11-year-old boxer, Chauncey, about 5:45 a.m. Monday near Reid Avenue and Main Street. During their walk, they came across a male and female pit bull.

The dogs had their heads down, and Bloom said that was a warning sign they were going to go after her dog.

The dogs attacked Bloom's boxer. She let Chauncey off the leash to give the dog a chance to run away. She was knocked to the ground trying to get the pit bulls off of her dog.

Joel Haro and his girlfriend, Darlene Moroncini, happened to be driving by when they spotted the attack. They stopped and helped get the dogs off Bloom until police could arrive.

Bloom said she suffered about 15 bite marks — most of them she described as puncture wounds — on her calves and hand.

Chauncey suffered a ripped ear and other injuries that required treatment from a veterinarian.

Martin said another potential factor may be when dogs hit a key age. Dogs reach sexual maturity between the ages of 2 and 3 and can become more dominant if they're not sterilized.

"Here you have this pair of dogs, and (the male) could have been feeling protective of the female in the presence of another unneutered male," she said.

Martin said it's not the breed of the dog that makes it aggressive, but its upbringing.

Introducing the dog to different people and situations will make it less likely they will be nervous and frightened in those settings in the future, according to the Humane Society of the United States.

It also recommends dog owners take at least one training class with their dog. This helps socialize the dog and teaches the owner proper training techniques.

Clint Thacker with Davis County Animal Care and Control said the owners of the pit bulls came forward, handed the dogs over to the county and asked for them to be euthanized.

They told Thacker the dogs had never acted out before.

"They've raised them from tiny puppies. They say they've been in a great home. They say they've played with other family pets," he said.

The owners did not say how or why their pit bulls were loose.

The owners could face penalties for the attack, as well as for allowing the dogs to roam unsupervised and not having pet licenses.

Contributing: Viviane Vo-Duc

Email: ddolan@deseretnews.com

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