HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — A local K9 trainer is providing tips on how to handle and identify a possible dog attack.
Tina Belcher, a Harlingen resident, said she was a victim of a dog attack when her own dogs bit her as she attempted to break up their fight.
“It was a very traumatic experience. It was on a Sunday morning. I have two pit bulls. Daddy is a male and Sable is a female,” she said.
As she tried to stop the fight, the dogs became aggressive toward her.
“When I pulled them apart, one of them bit the tip of my finger. So, I lost the tip of that finger,” she said.
She also suffered injuries from a bite on the back of her foot.
“She got my ankle, so she lacerated my Achilles tendon,” said Belcher.
She said her husband also got bit during the attack and both were rushed to the emergency room where she received 25 stitches to her ankle.
Belcher said the doctors said she may not walk properly again, but has been doing good.
The experience caused Belcher more than just physical damage.
“Now I am just like not that scared, but if I see that they’re growling or barking, right away it all comes back to me. It’s a form, I would say of post-traumatic,” she said.
Hubert Neri, a K9 trainer with DHK9 in Brownsville, said that there are signs to look out for when it comes to a dog attack.
“If the dog is just there and he licks his lips…he’s getting ready to bite. Another one, if that tail goes up straight up and it doesn’t move, it’s just there. His hackles are up, he’s focused on you, and he’s ready to engage,” said Neri.
He said the breed is not a factor in dog attacks.
“There’s a misconception that pit bull is a very dangerous dog. All dogs are dangerous,” said Neri.
He added that knowing how to handle your dog will help percent serious injuries.
Neri explained that if your dog is fighting with another, do not grab them by the collar to separate them.
“The best thing is just grabbing them by the back legs and pulling them. Of course, they’re still engaged but they’re going to release and you’re going to be safe,” he said.
He said there is a standard legal protocol for dog attacks.
“The doctor calls animal control and the sheriff’s department or the police then they come and they do the quarantine for ten days,” said Neri.
He explained that the judge can order for the dog to be put down or the owner can make that decision if they feel unsafe, but added that with an evaluation and professional training, the dog’s behavior can change.
Belcher said she decided to keep her dogs after the attack.
“Everybody told me to put them to sleep and I refused to do that and they’ve given me a lot of life, more than they took away from me that day,” she said.