WICHITA FALLS, TX - Imagine going for a walk in your neighborhood only to find yourself face to face with a vicious dog. What would you do? What is the right way to get out of the situation unharmed?
Katrena Mitchell is the administrator for the City of Wichita Falls Animal Services and says they receive reports of dog bites nearly every day
"Unfortunately, we have seen some very violent attacks," Mitchell said. "I think most of those cases the dogs were loose and attacked people."
One of these cases happened back in 2012 when June O'Hara, who was 77 at the time, was attacked by two large dogs while she was walking in the City View area. She had bites on her hands, head and body. The two dogs that bit her were later put down.
The Wichita Falls Animal Services is equipped with a quarantine room where dogs are placed after they've bit someone. There are ten cages inside the room and Mitchell says at times, they have a dog occupying every single room.
"They give out a lot of body language when they're feeling uncomfortable," Mitchell said. "They're ears will go back. They'll turn away. They'll do all sorts of things. A bite or a snap or scratch will be the last thing after they've warned you."
According to the CDC, nearly 4.5 million Americans are bitten by dogs each year, half of these are children.
"Make sure they don't interfere with a dog that is eating, sleeping or playing." Mitchell said. "Make sure they're not getting in their face, they're not hugging them, not pulling on their tails and stepping on them because dogs are going to react. That's how a lot of bites happen."
The CDC also reports one in five dog bites results in injuries serious enough to require medical attention.
So, if you're walking and a dog comes up to you, Mitchell says don't take off running and screaming. When you do that, it kicks in the dog's prey drive and they're more than likely going to chase you.
"If you're riding a bicycle, get off your bike," Mitchell said. "Keep the bike between you and the animal so they're is a barrier."
It may be hard to do, but most of the time if you're still and calm, the dog is going to find you boring and they're going to go on down the road.
"Be safe and use common sense," Mitchell said. "Call animal control and have us go out there and handle it."
The next time you go out on a walk or a bike ride, experts say to bring pepper spray or a stick. Both of those can be used as protection against aggressive dogs.