Dr. Joseph Harari, a veterinary surgeon in Spokane, discusses how to stop a dogfight in the sixth in a series of posts on the subject from local behaviorists and veterinarians.

Thumbnail image for Harari.JPGDr. Joseph Harari, a veterinary surgeon in Spokane, discusses how to stop a dogfight in the sixth in a series of posts on the subject from local behaviorists and veterinarians.

As a veterinary surgeon, I’ve treated dogs for fighting injuries, and as a pet owner, I’ve twice had to overcome dogs attacking one of my Labrador retrievers.

Prevention is often easier than treatment. I encourage owners to:

– Neuter their pets to reduce aggression as the victim or attacker.

– Avoid feeding competitive pets together.

– Provide enough toys for multiple pets in a household.

– Avoid walks through bad neighborhoods with poor leash laws.

–Avoid crowds of dogs on fields or in parks.

– Above all, be prepared and aware of your surroundings.

In the instances involving attacks on my dog (on leash), I instinctively picked up the aggressive Malamute by its neck, threw it to the ground, and it scampered back to its yard; the other attack involved three medium-size pit bulls running toward us, and I kicked the lead dog in the chest/lower neck. Stunned and knocked backward, it then retreated, followed by the others, back to their screaming owner.

I tell owners to avoid screaming and yelling because mass hysteria ensues, and not to put your hands between or around the mouths or heads of fighting dogs — you may be injured.

Pull dogs apart by leashes quickly and quietly. Swift kicks delivered to the aggressor’s chest or abdomen may knock down and stun a dog.

All in all, the situation is a difficult one for owners and pets, hence the term mad dogs (and Englishmen).

Dr. Joseph Harari

Harari graduated from WSU’ College of Veterinary Medicine in 1980 and later was a member of its faculty. He completed his surgical training at the University of Illinois and later was on its faculty, specializing in small-animal surgery. He has practiced in Seattle and now co-owns Veterinary Surgical Specialists, a surgical referral center in Spokane. Harari is a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons and has lived with Labradors and cats for more than 30 years.

•   •   •

Do you have a question about veterinary health or pet behavior? Ask now! We’ll pose some of your questions to a local trainer in an upcoming post.

Read earlier Q&A columns here.