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By Jose Cepeda III

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (May 24, 2001 - Pacific Daily News)---An increase in the number of dog bites and dog attacks in recent years has some residents concerned about their safety and public health officials calling for residents to tie up their dogs.

Since January, there have been 40 dog bites and dog attacks reported, according to the Department of Public Health and Social Services. There were 27 dog bites reported in all of 2000, and 13 in 1999, they said.

One Tamuning resident said the villages are becoming increasingly dangerous places to jog.

Mick Flynn runs along the roads of Guam to stay in shape. Two years ago, Flynn, 69, of Tamuning was attacked by a stray dog while running past the old Guam Memorial Hospital in Tamuning, his first attack in more than 30 years of running in Guam.

Because of the dog bite, Flynn said, he had to have a tetanus shot and the wound took four months to heal while he was taking antibiotics to avoid infection.

Flynn is one of many dog bite and dog attack victims in recent years. He also is one of several people who have been attacked while jogging.

He said he often ran along Pale San Vitores Road to Ypao Beach, and had never before experienced a dog attack. He said that there are many places to run without being attacked, but said dogs that do attack should be euthanized.

"If people can't keep them (dogs) under leash or fenced, then they should be taken away," Flynn said. "If they can't find someone to take care of the animals, they should be destroyed or put to sleep."

Rosanna Rabago, acting administrator for public health's division of environmental health, is asking residents to tie up their dogs. "We want to encourage pet owners to either leash or confine their dogs on their premises at all times," Rabago said. "Animals must be leashed or confined on their property."

She said people bitten by dogs should see a doctor to get a tetanus shot or receive antibiotics. They also should contact the environmental health division so it can conduct an investigation and capture the animal.

"The last thing we need is for someone to get mauled by a dog," Rabago said. "We're trying to identify the dogs that are aggressive, in order to better protect the public."

Next month, public health plans to begin capturing animals without dog licenses, and those animals will be taken to the Yigo Animal Shelter. Captured animals will be housed for 10 days before being placed into an adoption program, returned to the owner or euthanized.

Joanne Bonine, secretary and a volunteer with Guam Animals in Need, which operates the Yigo shelter, said there are things people should remember when dealing with dogs. These include:

Bonine was bitten by a dog when she was jogging and said that once a dog has bitten someone, she feels the animal has become unsafe.

"Personally, any dog that bites even once, or displays an irregular personality, unless they have been severely threatened, that dog is untrustworthy," Bonine said.

Yona resident Ken Leon Guerrero said he was bitten by a dog two years ago while jogging. He needed several stitches to close the wound on his leg, he said, and he is more careful now about running on public roads because of the potential for attack.

He said dogs who attack people should be euthanized. "If that was my kid getting bit, I'd want to kill the animal," Leon Guerrero said.


Dog bites and attacks:

Department of Public Health and Social Services

Dog safety tips:

See: www.nodogbites.com 



By Dionesis Tamondong Pacific Daily News

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (May 24, 2001 - Pacific Daily News)---Pet owners may be liable if their pets attack and injure people, authorities said.

The number of reported dog bites and attacks has continued to increase in recent years, according to reports filed with the Department of Public Health and Social Services' Division of Environmental Health. Thirteen dog bites were reported in 1999, 27 in 2000 and 40 so far this year.

"We receive reports of dogs chasing schoolchildren or joggers every week," said Rosanna Rabago, acting administrator of the environmental health division. "Most of the reports are from clinics and others from residents."

Guam law requires pet owners to keep their pets leashed or confined behind a fence, as well as vaccinated and registered with the public health department. The law allows anyone who is attacked by an animal to kill the animal to prevent further injuries to himself or herself, according to Guam law. People witnessing the attack also are allowed to kill the animal, according to the law.

An unleashed or unconfined pet that has bitten a person or people two or more times may be declared "vicious" by the public health director and ordered confined or destroyed, Rabago said.

After receiving a report, public health's animal control unit will impound the dog for 10 days and determine whether the dog can be returned to its owner, adopted or euthanized, Rabago said.

"Although our animal control unit is mandated to collect menacing pets and strays, it is ultimately the owner's responsibility to keep their dog leashed or confined," Rabago said, adding there are only two animal control officers to cover the island.

For additional reports from the Pacific Daily News, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Pacific Daily News (Guam).

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