It was a great “feel good” story about a dramatic dog rescue by a local firefighter. The dog, named “Gladiator Maximus” or “Max” for short, was rescued from a Lakewood reservoir Tuesday after falling through ice into frigid water. Tyler Sugaski is the West Metro Fire Protection District firefighter who pulled the dog from the water. During the rescue, Max, a 3-year-old who weighs about 85 pounds, could be seen swimming right to Sugaski as the firefighter worked his way to the edge of the ice.
Channel 9 had a helicopter hovering above gathering live footage for 9News. So it sounded like a good idea to have the firefighter hero, the dog owner and the dog in the next morning for a live studio follow up. Except the 9News anchor Kyle Dyer , after petting the dog for several minutes, “tried to kiss/snuggle with the dog,” according to the animal control report. The bite occurred during the live segment, much to the astonishment of all involved.
Dyer was not seriously injured and underwent reconstructive surgery Wednesday to repair the injuries to her lip. She is listed in fair condition.
The rescued dog is now in the custody of Denver animal control. The director of Denver Animal Care and Control, said Max will be quarantined for 10 days, as staffers look for signs of illness, including rabies. If all is well after 10 days, Max could be released to his owner, Michael Robinson of Lakewood. Robinson was cited for having the dog off leash and for lack of rabies inoculation, following the rescue.
The unfortunate conclusion to the story is a clear reminder of the difference between human and animal behavior. Our society so often attributes human characteristics to animals, particularly our pets, it is often forgotten that these animals have a completely different set of responses than the “human” ones. Dog experts caution never hold your face close to a strange dog’s face – you may think it is snuggling, but the dog sees it very aggressive behavior and reacts in kind.
There are approximately 800,000 bites per year in the United States that require medical treatment. And dog bites result in approximately 44,000 facial injuries each year. Unfortunately children comprise 60% of the dog bite victims. Severe injuries occur almost exclusively in children less than 10 years of age. The face is the most frequent target (77% of all injures).
The Humane Society gives this advice to dog owners – If you don’t know how your dog will react to a new situation, be cautious. If your dog may panic in crowds, leave him at home. If your dog overreacts to visitors or delivery or service personnel, keep him in another room. Work with professionals to help your dog become accustomed to these and other situations. Until you are confident of his behavior, however, avoid stressful settings.