I hail from an immediate family of animal lovers. My brother and I were raised with a hedgehog, a Quaker parrot, a parakeet and now a 13-pound Chihuahua-Terrier pup my parents refer to as their son. Though we lived in an animal house, my parents were rarely concerned with our safety.
A family in Fulton County, Georgia isn’t as fortunate. A two-year-old child, identified as Beau Rutledge, was mauled to death by his family’s pit bull Wednesday afternoon.
Police and animal control authorities told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Rutledge was in his townhome with his mother when the attack occurred. The dog attacked Rutledge when his mother went to the restroom.
“She advised it happened fast,” Fulton County Detective Melissa Parker said. “It was an obvious death once the mother came out of the restroom.”
One of the neighbors, Joseph Messam, heard the child’s mother screaming.
“The dog killed the baby! The dog killed the baby.’ That’s what I heard her say,” Messam told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The family owned the dog for eight years and obviously felt safe enough to leave the child in the pit’s presence. Pet safety is imperative when there are children present in the home. It is literally a matter of life-and-death.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) offers several general rules for families interested in owning pets, specifically dogs:
- Teach your child to read your pet’s body language and identify signs that your pet wants to be left alone. More information is provided in the ASPCA’s “Reading Canine Body Postures” guidelines.
- Teach your child how to protect himself from an overexcited pet by demonstrating the basics of dog bite prevention, such as rolling into a ball, protecting hands and face and calling for help, rather than running or screaming if he’s chased by a dog.
- Teach your dog to respond to the word “Stop” and encourage your child to practice using that word when appropriate.
- Don’t let your child’s friends bring their pets into your home without adult supervision.
- Teach your child to leave your pet alone when she retreats to a bed or crate that you’ve designated as a pet’s “safe spot.”
Chime in Clutchettes. What other pet safety tips would you offer?