Deschutes County

Dog-bite protocols differ in C. Oregon

Recent incident puts spotlight on issue

Dog bite protocols differ

Numerous bites and an injured arm. That's the aftermath for 6-year-old Kaylee from Prineville after a dog attacked her.

"I'm still scared," Kaylee said.

But what happens next in dog bite cases can very from one community to another.

The dog was not taken away from its owner and not placed under quarantine. The Crook County Sheriff's Office said this dog does not qualify as a dangerous dog under Oregon law.

In Deschutes County, dogs are brought to the shelter for quarantine right after they bite a person, but not because they showed aggressive behavior.

"The way we operate is, if the animal bite breaks skin, even if they have proof of rabies, they are put on that 10-day rabies quarantine," said Karen Burns, shelter manager at the Humane Society of Central Oregon. "It's to make sure they have no neurological symptoms of the disease."

The 1-year-old leashed pit bull that attacked Kaylee on Sunday at Ochoco Reservoir has proof of rabies vaccination. Officers are not required to take the dog away, but in Deschutes County, they do it anyway.

After a dog is quarantined and found to be free of rabies, it is not automatically sent back home.

"We do have a behavioral assessment on any animal that would have a bite history," Burns said. "And if we feel that the animal is too dangerous to be placed back into the community, then we would choose to humanely euthanize it."

Euthanizing a dog is, however, the last resort. Dog trainers try to work on behavior of the dog first.

"Dogs bite out of fear. They're not trying to be dominant or try to take over," said Meredith Gage, owner of Pawsitive Experience Dog Training.

The biggest key is to determine if the dog can be retrained to interact with humans and animals and not be scared of them.

"We're changing their emotional state from, 'Uh-oh, I've got to get that scary thing away' to, 'Yippee, here comes the scary person,'" Gage said.

Dog owners should not wait until the first bite.

"I wan to see them contacting me when a dog is nervous and even tail-tucked or fearful or they take the fight response or lunge or growl or lip curl," Gage said.

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