All bark, no bite
July 30, 2005
A pit bull named Mugzi and a mutt called Smudge taught kids a valuable lesson on animal safety Friday.
The two dogs ” one muscular, with a metal-studded collar, and the other petite, with a tail consistently on the move ” were educational examples for the Kids Kamp at Glenwood Springs Elementary School.
“Who do you think the good dog is, and who is the bad dog?” asked Aimee Chappelle, an animal control deputy for the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office, who led the dog bite and animal safety presentation.
The majority of the campers were quick to pick 8-year-old Mugzi as the “bad dog,” while Smudge received most of the praise as the “nice” canine. Taylor James, a 10-year-old blond-haired camper experienced with training dogs, knew the answer was quite the contrary. Mugzi was so friendly, he plopped right into Taylor’s lap as fellow campers giggled.
“She’s a lap dog,” said Chappelle, Mugzi’s owner.
“If you don’t know the dog, you don’t know if it’s good or bad.”
The Humane Society of the United States reports that dogs bite more than 4 million people in the United States each year, and most of those are younger than 13.
“Dogs can really, really hurt you. They’re like little muscles with teeth,” Chappelle said. “Even friendly dogs can bite. You have to play nice with dogs.”
During Chappelle’s presentation, she played a video called “Bow Wow Ow!” The educational film gave pointers on how to act around dogs, including “never kiss a dog in the face” and “watch out playing with dogs with puppies.”
Chappelle told the campers not to judge all dogs by their breeds, using Mugzi as an example. She said pit bulls often get bad raps because owners have been known to train them as aggressive guard dogs.
“We have 11 pit bulls in the shelter because people don’t know they can be a family pet,” she said. “That’s when I get on my soap box. I take Mugzi everywhere ” she’s Miss PR.”
She said that well-known dogs like the dog in the RCA TV commercials and the cartoon “Pete the Pup” were pit bulls and very friendly dogs.
Sheila Frazee, a Garfield County jail classifications officer who handled Smudge during Friday’s presentation, said awareness is key for kids to avoid dog bites, no matter what the breed.
“It’s important to get the information out to stop the biting,” she said. “Kids need to be educated on biting.”
To schedule a presentation or for questions about dog biting and animal safety, contact Aimee Chappelle at the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office at 945-0453.
Contact April E. Clark: 945-8515, ext. 518