Clinic Stories

Have You Ever Been Bit?

This always strikes me as an odd question. I work with animals. Of course I’ve been bitten. It comes with the job. Most of the time the animal or the owner gives a warning so we muzzle or sedate them. Not always though. A 60 pound dog was brought in on emergency for limping on his front leg. When I reached down to feel his leg, the dog suddenly bit my hand. "That surprises me", the owner said as I washed off my bleeding hand. "He usually only bites when he gets a shot. Have you ever been bit before?" When I said yes, he replied, "That makes me feel better." So we have an owner who did not let me know that his dog had a history of biting despite that I was handling a painful area near his mouth, then felt better because it was not my first bite. He was alone in feeling better. My feelings ran closer to putting a muzzle on the owner.

My worst attack came from a 10 month old male Rottweiler. The owners and dog were from Russia. They did not speak English and brought a 10 year old daughter of a friend as a translator. I was asked to come in the room to help hold the dog after he was already muzzled. He struggled and the muzzle came off. An uncooperative dog became violent and I was his target. I backed into a corner and whipped him with the muzzle as he lunged. He got a hold of my shirt and tore it. As everyone looked on helpless, I braced myself against the wall and kicked him with the bottom of my foot to hold him off. He bit my shoe and pulled it off. His focus turned to the shoe and the owner was able to grab him by the collar. My shoe and shirt were ruined but I was unharmed.

Unfortunately, the dog bit young girl who was translating and also bit the animal control officer who came to investigate.

When the owners decided to euthanize the dog I had to face him again. No one was willing to help and I had to use a rabies pole and sedate him alone but was able to accomplish the job. The state put a priority on the rabies test since his only vaccination had been in Russia and he came from an area where Rabies was a problem. Fortunately, he did not have Rabies.

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