Dog bites on P.E.I. are on the rise this year — and in most cases the pets are biting members of the family they live with, according to the P.E.I. Humane Society.
As of Friday, the society had received 38 complaints of dog bite ontario people so far this year. That’s almost as many as the 46 investigations staff handled for the entire year in 2019.
“It’s troublesome,” said Jennifer Harkness, the development and communications manager for the society. “The majority of them happen in the home environment.”
Harkness said while the public generally hears about attacks by unknown dogs in the community, 80 per cent of this year’s bites on P.E.I. have occurred by a pet the person is familiar with.
Dogs need a break
“We have a theory that it could possibly be because of the COVID restrictions and people being home more,” she said. “Dogs don’t really get a break.”
It’s a theory backed up by an associate professor at the Atlantic Veterinary College in Charlottetown.
“People who are not that social, they were born for this moment and there are dogs that are like that too,” said Dr. Karen Overall, referring to the isolation the pandemic has brought with it.
Even though dog bite law ontario are generally up in the summer, Overall said some introverted dogs may have forgotten how to cope with the anxiety of human interaction.
The other explanation has to do with the owner.
“Even those of us who don’t show it are a little bit stressed and distressed still by the ongoing situation,” she said. “That translates to the dog.”
Similar to people, Overall said “one of the things events like this do is they don’t create behavioural problems but they reveal who was at risk for them.”
There are several warning signs that a dog may bite. They include growling, showing teeth and looking away.
“When dogs growl or bite, they’re not doing it because they’re nasty,” said Overall. “They’re doing so because … they just need it to stop and they’ve lost their mind for a second. ”
“Most of us have lost our mind for a second from time-to-time. Well, when dogs lose their mind they don’t have hands. They have to use their teeth.”
Dog bites on P.E.I. are investigated by either the local police or the Humane Society.
As for Harkness, she said the Humane Society does receive some calls from owners wanting to surrender their pet after it showed signs of aggression. Though, most of the calls are from people looking to educate themselves on how to prevent the dog from biting in the future.
“We’re not there always to really take dogs away,” said Harkness. “But to just make sure that the safety is there and that they perhaps continue to safely live within their home too.”