Do’s and Don’ts Around Dogs

Bianchi students get some pointers on bite prevention

By Terri Weintraub

CONCORD – Bianchi Elementery School student Jack Mullins was playing with his golden retriever a few weeks ago whan the dog jumped up and bit him on the cheek. Mullins, 11, was teasing the dog by holding her squeeze-toy newspaper up in the air.

Another Bianchi student, Oliver Bouamalay, 11, recalls how a doberman that guards his father’s transmission shop bit him when he picked up the dog’s food dish. Bouamalay says the dog has a mean streak because strangers have been mean to the dog. Once, someone sabbed the dog’s leg with a knife, he says.

To try to prevent dog bites, Bianchi maintenance worker Dan Irish demonstrated proper people behavior around canines to a group of students on Monday.

Irish, 35, a Bethel Island resident, has done attack dog demonstrations for police departments for the past seven years.

Irish showed fourth-through sixth-graders at the Coewll Road school that Butch, his 9-year-old black and brown Rottweiler, is sweet and tame if treated with proper respect. Students lined up after class to pet Butch, a trained attack dog.

Last year, there were 1,212 dog bites reported by people in Contra Costa County, said Ted Brasier, chief animal control supervisor with the county’s Department of Animal Services.

The most bites reported in a six-month study in Contra Costa last year were from German Shepherds, pit bull terriers, labradors, golden retrievers, dobermans and cocker spaniels, in that order, said Larry Vase, an animal control supervisor with the department. Those rankings do not take into account which breeds have the largest populations in the county.

Irish says dogs will bite if they perceive a threat to their territory or food, or if they think people are playing chase games with them.

“To them, you’re like a rabbit,” Irish says, “They don’t like to bite things that don’t move. It’s a game to them.”

Above all, Irish says, people should treat dogs like best friends. Don’t jump on them while they’re sleeping, he says. Talk to a sleeping dog before touching it.

Don’t try to pet dogs on chains or in cars, Irish says. They might be frustrated from being confined and they will guard their territory, he says.

Vales [sic] [recte Irish] says people should avoid petting or bothering mother dogs with pups and any dog that is eating. Also, he says, don’t play too rough with dogs. While some dogs like rough play, others don’t. People can always tell the difference, he says.