OPINION – We need to stop blaming the victims of dog attacks

Apr 17, 2019, 2:56 PM | Updated: Dec 30, 2022, 11:28 am

victims of dog attacks...

After vicious dog attacks in Logan and Layton have both resulted in people cyber-bullying the victims, Dave Noriega says it's time we rethink how we react to dog bites. (Photos courtesy of Hope Brown and Alicia Garcia)

(Photos courtesy of Hope Brown and Alicia Garcia)

We have a new rule in the Noriega home: absolutely no petting of strange dogs.

I don’t care if the owners say it’s okay. I don’t care if they swear they’ve got the sweetest dog in the world who would never hurt anyone. There’s no way I’m letting my kids touch these dogs now that I’ve seen what happened to this guy in Logan:

Parley Goodrich dog attacks

Parley Goodrich after receiving stitches to help him recuperate for a dog attack in Logan on Friday. (Photo: Alicia Garcia / GoFundMe)

That’s what Parley Goodrich looks like now, all because he decided to bend down and pet a stray dog. The dog, in his sister’s words, “latched onto his face,” and now Goodrich is in the hospital getting 300 stitches and a skin graft to replace his torn-off lip.

That’d be bad enough on its own, but it’s far worse knowing it’s coming right on the heels of the horrific dog attack in Layton that ended with a little boy named Austin Brown losing most of his arm from the elbow down.

Austin Brown dog attacks

Austin Brown recovering in the hospital after losing his hand a large part of his arm to an alleged dog bite. (Photo: Hope Brown / Facebook)

What really makes me sick to my stomach, though, is that every time this happens, we don’t stick up for the victims. We stick up for the dogs.

Goodrich’s sister has already gotten e-mails bashing her brother and telling her his attack “wasn’t that bad”, and little Austin’s mother has gotten messages so obscene that I can’t even repeat what they say.

I want to know. Why are we defending this? Why are we so comfortable with dogs biting people?

4.7 million dog bites a year

CDC on Dog Attacks

There are about 4.7 million dog bites a year, the CDC says, and most of the victims are young children. (Image: Center for Disease Control and Prevention)

I know what every dog lover reading this is thinking. “My dog’s not like that. My dog’s the sweetest. He would never, ever bite.”

And I’m sure that’s true of every dog – until they do.

Dogs bite people way more often than you might think. I did a little digging, and when I saw the CDC’s stats on dog attacks, it made my jaw drop.

In the USA alone, every year, there are:

  • 4.7 million dogs bites
  • About 800,000 dog bites that require medical attention
  • Nearly a billion dollars in medical bills for dog bites
  • A 20 percent chance every dog bite will become infected
  • Every 75 seconds – chomp! – somebody in the U.S. is bitten by a dog.

    Let’s put that in perspective. In the U.S., there are about 2,000 unintentional gun injuries each year. That means that, for every person injured by a gun, more than 2,000 people get injured by dogs.

    But we definitely don’t treat them the same way. I can tell you, because I’ve been in the news business for a long time: if there’s an accidental shooting, we’re going to cover it. But if it’s a dog bite, odds are, you won’t hear a word about it.

    When there’s a bite we’ll minimize the attacks or just gloss over them. We’ll say: “They’re so cute, though.”

    And more than 250,000 of us will sign a petition to save the lives of dogs that allegedly tore off a young boy’s forearm.

    Dog attacks aren’t treated like other crimes

    Layton Dogs Polar and Bear dog attacks

    Polar and Bear, the dogs that allegedly attacked Austin Brown, who lost his arm below the elbow. More than a quarter of a million people signed a petition to save their lives. (Photo: Nikki Preece / GoFundMe)

    Even our laws treat dogs act attacks differently from attacks by human beings.

    If a dog attacks you, standard procedure is that it’s going to be investigated by Animal Control. It doesn’t matter how serious or how brutal the attack was – usually, the police won’t get involved.

    That was the case when Austin Brown lost his arm to a dog attack in Layton. This boy didn’t just lose a small little finger – these dogs tore off his arm from the elbow down.

    But still, the police didn’t give it a full, formal investigation. Animal control was put in charge of it, and it is as clear as day to me that they were in over their heads.

    The investigators couldn’t even find the boy’s arm. They just said: “Yeah, we’re not quite sure what happened,” assumed the dogs ate it, and – as far as we’ve been told – never figured out what happened to it.

    Did these people seriously not think to give the dogs an X-ray? I mean, I’ve seen my cat’s X-rays. They show bones. It never occurred to anyone to give that a try?

    This investigation needed to be handled by professionals. But because dogs were involved, it wasn’t.

    I just don’t understand that. When dog attacks are as serious as these ones are, why don’t we take them seriously?

    And why are we still defending the dogs over the victims?

    More to the story

    When my co-host, Debbie Dujanovic, and I talked about this story on the air, she brought up a great point. What if, instead of reporting these attacks as dog bites, the victims just said they didn’t know what had happened?

    What if little Austin Brown had forgotten who attacked him? What if he’d told the doctors that all he could remember is playing out the yard and, the next thing he could remember, his arm was gone?

    How would we react then?

    Listen to the Dave & Dujanovic podcast to hear Debbie’s perfect break down of just how much better these attacks could have been handled.

    Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon on KSL Newsradio. Users can find the show on the KSL Newsradio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.

    affordable care act

    We want to hear from you.

    Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

    Crime, Police + Courts

    riverton police department building...

    Jessica Lowell

    Riverton Police chief no longer working for city

    A spokesperson for Riverton said the decision for Riverton Police Chief Blair Barfuss to leave his position was made yesterday.

    9 hours ago

    People take part in the March for Our Lives rally against gun violence in Salt Lake City on Saturda...

    Waverly Golden and Mark Jackson

    More than 400 Utahns have lost their lives to gun violence this year

    This year, 456 Utahns have lost their lives to gun violence. In America, 40,264 people have died due to gun violence thus far.

    13 hours ago

    eight-year-old falls from second-story window in Eagle Mountain...

    Derrick Jones

    Eight-year-old falls from second-story window in Eagle Mountain

    eight-year-old falls from second-story window in Eagle Mountain

    1 day ago

    A customer who threw a burrito bowl in a Chipotle worker's face in September has been sentenced to ...

    Chris Isidore, CNN

    Woman who threw bowl of food at Chipotle worker sentenced to work 2 months in fast food job

    A New York woman who assaulted a Chipotle worker was sentenced to work two months in a fast food restaurant.

    2 days ago

    Parents anxiously wait outside UNLV shooting scene....

    John Miller, Elizabeth Wolfe, Taylor Romine and Evan Perez, CNN

    UNLV gunman was a career professor who had applied for a job at the school

    The shooting began shortly before noon on the fourth floor of the university’s Beam Hall business school building at UNLV.

    2 days ago

    Shonie Christensen, domestic violence advocate and survivor, hugs Lindsey Boyer,...

    Don Brinkerhoff

    Service for domestic violence survivors expanding in Tooele

    South Valley Services in Tooele has seen a spike in the need for services for survivors of domestic violence.

    2 days ago

    Sponsored Articles

    Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

    Visit Bear Lake

    Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

    Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

    front of the Butch Cassidy museum with a man in a cowboy hat standing in the doorway...

    Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

    Looking Back: The History of Bear Lake

    The history of Bear Lake is full of fascinating stories. At over 250,000 years old, the lake has seen generations of people visit its shores.

    silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

    Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

    8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

    Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

    Wellsville Mountains in the spring with a pond in the foreground...

    Wasatch Property Management

    Advantages of Renting Over Owning a Home

    Renting allows you to enjoy luxury amenities and low maintenance without the long-term commitment and responsibilities of owning a home.

    Clouds over a red rock vista in Hurricane, Utah...

    Wasatch Property Management

    Why Southern Utah is a Retirement Paradise

    Retirement in southern Utah offers plenty of cultural and recreational opportunities. Find out all that this region has to offer.

    Human hand holding a protest banner stop vaping message over a crowded street background....

    Prosperous Utah Communities

    Utah’s Battle to Protect Youth from Vaping Epidemic Faces New Threat as Proposed Rule Threatens Progress

    Utah's strict standards of nicotine levels in vaping products are at risk, increasing health hazards associated with use. Read more about how you can advocate for a better future for Utah's youth.

    OPINION – We need to stop blaming the victims of dog attacks