Let's face it.  San Angelo has a dog problem. Wild and vicious dogs are attacking people and livestock. Some of these dogs are running wild in packs.  Some of these dogs, like the one shot and killed while attacking a man in the 3300 block of Oxford Drive Tuesday, are family pets.

Dog attacks are nothing new in San Angelo. Dog attacks in 2017 and 2014 resulted in savage injuries.

Bubba, a dog photographed for a Northern California animal shelter, finally found his home after spending the better part of a year in a kennel. He is free!
Photography by Adri

There seem to be lots of strays in San Angelo. To get a handle on this, people's attitudes need to change. San Angelo was historically a rural ranching and farming community. It is now a more urban environment. That means dog owners have to be responsible for their animals.

Dog packs have been spotted in the city and have attacked horses and other livestock. These attacks are devastating for the owners of the animals and costly, as veterinarian costs have exploded in recent years.

These dog attacks are particularly concerning considering that fatal dog attacks happen. Dog bites kill around 20 Americans each year. According to dogsbite.org a national dog bite victims' group, 66% of dog bite fatalities were caused by pit bulls. But according to Marjie Alonso, executive director of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants says one dog breed isn't any more aggressive than another.

One study shows that golden retrievers were responsible for more bites on children than any other breed. But, golden retrievers aren't dangerous.

Smiling Golden Retriever
David Sokoler

So, what should you do if an unfamiliar dog approaches you? Stand still and avoid eye contact, but only if you can keep from screaming.  Sometimes, no matter what you do, the aggressive dog will attack.

This website has some great pointers for what to do when threatened by a dog or attacked.

How to React to A Dog Attack and More

With the vicious dog problem in San Angelo, carrying a citronella spray might not be a bad idea. Keeping smaller dogs and other pets protected at all times when outside is a must.

Dog owners need to be aware that they could face severe penalties if their dog attacks someone. A dog owner may be criminally liable if they acted with criminal negligence or if they had reason to know their dog was dangerous.

Man teaching his black Labrador retriever to fetch

When it comes to liability for dog owners, Texas is a "one bite rule" state.  This means the owner can be held financially liable for any damages caused by an animal known to be dangerous.  However, if the animal has never bitten anyone before, the burden is on the injured person to prove that the dog was vicious, otherwise, no judgment for liability could be assessed.

Let's just hope that solutions can be found before some local San Angelo citizen is killed by a dog attack. It is just a matter of time. It would be great if man's best friend could be San Angelo's best friend again.

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