What do you do when you are approached by a strange dog? What is the proper way to greet a dog? How do you avoid getting bitten?
The correct answers to these questions are the focus of Charlotte Mecklenburg Animal Care and Control, (CMACC) officer, Julia Conner. Conner gives the low down on basic safety to help teach members of the public how to behave around animals, and ultimately, how not to get bitten.
Julia’s message is extremely important to children, as they are often not taught how to properly interact with dogs, and are more vulnerable to attacks than most adults. Julia regularly visits local schools to teach her dog bite and safety prevention course with her partner Topaz, a registered therapy dog. Annually, Julia teaches about 100 classes, however, as Julia says, every interaction with the public is a teaching opportunity. “When children or adults turn around and spread what they have learned to their families, friends, coworkers, and neighbors I feel as though I’m reaching out to the public through them and THAT is how changes are made in communities.”
The program started in 2004, officially dubbed Humane Education. Julia gets to witness the success of the program firsthand in often coming across individuals that have learned from the program and have avoided a bite and/or attack based on what they had learned prior with her.
Much of the program’s initiatives take place in the field, however, Julia has a strong presence at the shelter with educational outreach, giving shelter tours, and working as an Animal Care and Control Officer.
Julia thoroughly enjoys engaging youth and entertaining the questions that they present during her talks. The question she seems to get asked the most is whether or not she likes her job. Julia’s answer: “Yes. Always. There are certain parts of my job that can be very difficult but knowing that I am here for the animals off-sets any of the difficulties. When I return a dog home to their owner after they got lost or stolen, it’s a wonderful feeling. Every time an animal gets adopted (especially one that’s been here a long time), it’s heartwarming”.
Julia’s important take home message: “Never assume a dog to be aggressive but never assume that they will not bite either. Never run from or around a dog and don’t try to catch anything that is running around loose. Always watch children around dogs (whether it’s the family dog or visiting at a friends’ house). These are the most common reasons behind bite reports.”
For more information about the CMACC Dog Bite and Safety Prevention class, or to schedule a visit with Julia and Topaz, email firstname.lastname@example.org.