AmericaNurse News
November, 2003

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Pets are now used to bring people out of autism, depression, etc. They are a loving part of many people's lives: yet, as in all things, they can bring illness and infection into our lives as well. Specifically, they harbor diseases and when they are allowed to indiscriminately contaminate our lawns or other aspects of our living, we are at risk and pet owners are responsible. I have often asked why people encourage their pets to eliminate or defecate on other people's property especially lawns where children play or people picnic. Would you like to knowingly sit down or lie down or put your food in an area that you knew was recently contaminated with urine or fecal matter? How many times have you seen people carrying a pet scooper and yet never really using it? They often do not pick up the excrement. Let's look at the benefits of pets-they are a great friend, a wonderful guard, and can lower your blood pressure and have other health assets. Now, we will examine the dangers that may lurk. A Vet recently told me to tell adults and children not to ever approach an animal unless the animal approaches them. This pertains to both strange animals and your neighbor's animal.  There may be a problem especially if the temperature is high and the animal is overheated or uncomfortable-this is a good tip for the human species too. Looking straight into the eye of a dog may also intimidate him and cause him to act out toward you. They may suddenly strike out if irritated or threatened..   You must always protect your neck and face if under attack.  If you are carrying food, a hungry animal may also attack you to get the food-throwing it away from you may fend off the attack causing the animal to be diverted. I remember a dog attacking someone to get a pizza he was carrying and actually pushing the person into oncoming traffic. This was an unleashed dog sitting outside a lounge after school where children had to go by. Danger was imminent due to the owner’s negligence. The owner was ticketed and taken to court for dialtory behavior and had to pay for cleaning bills etc. If you own an animal, remember not everyone loves your animal or even knows it (just like you may not know or like some people). It is your responsibility to morally and legally control the potential dangerous actions of your animal.  Some people carry pepper spray to fend off the animal and may get the owner instead. Leash laws should be adhered to. Loose animals should be reported to 911, the police and animal control for their protection and yours. Your dog may be taken away and controlled by someone else if you are negligent. Never leave a child unattended with any pet-no matter how docile the animal may seem-an animal may hurt a child while trying to play.  There are special beaches in many areas that are for pets especially in California where everyone expects to be surrounded by dogs-utilize these amenities whenever possible.  Try not to be defensive or offended by people who fear animals, they have probably had a scary bad experience as a child and the memories never left them.  Love and Leash your pet. This will help you and the stranger. If there is a bite, control the bleeding, clean a superficial wound with soap and water or if it is a tear and deep bite, cover it with a clean cloth and either way-seek immediate medial attention to avoid further injury. 


 Karon Gibson RN may now be seen on Joliet TV, Channel 6, or on Western Cable, Channel 22, on her show Outspoken with Karon.  She can be contacted at or 815-773-4497. She is author of Nurses On Our Own, a story of adventure in the nursing profession.