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Hero Cat Tara Saves Boy and Teaches Dog Bite Safety Lessons

This article originally appeared on Dr. Mahaney’s Pet-Lebrity News column on Pet360.com as Hero Cat Tara Saves Boy and Teaches Dog Bite Safety Lessons.

Our society is quite familiar with the concept of animals as heroes. Dogs are the primary species we associated with heroes. Yet, sometimes other species step up to the plate to help people in need.

Recently, a new animal hero rose to prominence in the form of a cat named Tara. Incredible video footage shows Tara rescuing a child by disrupting a neighbor’s dog attack.

Tara and her family live in Bakersfield California in what looks like a typical suburban neighborhood. One of her human owners is Roger Triantafilo, who uploaded the compelling home-surveillance video onto YouTube in a piece aptly titled My Cat Saved My Son. The video shows Trianafilo’s son Jeremy innocently riding a bicycle only to have a collarless, red-brown, approximately 40 pound, mixed-breed dog stealthily approach from behind a white SUV and clamp down on the child's leg. The dog then knocks the child to the ground and begins thrashing back and forth.

Out of nowhere, Tara comes to the rescue by pouncing on and startling the dog into freeing its grip on the boy. We then witness Tara chasing the dog back on the route from which it came and then joining the Jeremy and his concerned mother Erica in fleeing to safety.

The text “fortunately it wasn’t worse” then appears followed by the image of the boy’s dog bite wounds shown both in open and surgically repaired formats.

Why Did Tara Protect Her Owner’s Child?

Although we will never know the definitive answer, I speculate that Tara protected the child for a few reasons.

Relationship to Humans- Tara is touted to be closely bonded to her human family members, as she’s lived with the Triantafilos for six years. Therefore, Tara may treat the Triantafilos as her own kin and feel the urge to protect them.

Territorial Tendencies- Perhaps the neighboring dog has attempted to gain access to Tara's domain in the past. The dog’s attack may have coincidentally occurred in a place where Tara saw the opportunity to protect the space over which she rules supreme. About Tara, Erica reports that “every once in a while she puts our dog back into place.” So, perhaps Tara’s used to defending her turf.

What Does This Incident Teach Us About Dog Bites Safety?

Dog bites can occur anyplace and anytime. Just because you are in your own neighborhood surrounded by familiar people and pets doesn’t mean such a life-changing incident won’t happen. A random dog could be set free on your street, a neighbor’s otherwise-confined pooch could break free from restraints, or a canine normally known to be nice may turn cantankerous due to underlying illness (arthritis pain, intervertebral disc disease, etc.).

According to the AVMA Dog Bite Prevention webpage:

4.7 million people the U.S. are bitten by dogs on an annual basis

800,000 Americans receive medical attention for dog bites each year

Children are most commonly bitten, as 400,000 receive medical attention every year (senior citizens are in second place)

Dog bites to children most commonly occur with familiar dogs engaging in everyday activities

Therefore, all owners must take proper steps to ensure their dogs are properly confined in their homes or yards and appropriately restrained when out in public. Perhaps if the Triantafilo’s neighbor’s dog was being suitably observed and confined instead of running free, this incident wouldn’t have occurred and the potential for the dog to be euthanized wouldn’t be an issue currently facing it’s family.

Additionally, people’s pooches should be properly socialized on a lifelong basis through positive reinforcement-based discipline and encouraging interactions with other animals and humans.

What’s Next for Tara in her Notoriety as a Hero Cat?

Besides seeing Tara on national news like The Today Show, she's being invited to lend her celebrity to other notable events. The Bakersfield Blaze, a minor-league baseball team, invited Tara to throw out the seasons first pitch. I look forward to hearing more from Tara in the future.

Has your cat ever committed an act of heroism? If so, please share your story in the comments section.

Thank you for reading this article. Your questions and comments are completely welcome (I’ll respond).
Please feel free to communicate with me through Twitter (@PatrickMahaney) and follow my adventures in veterinary medicine by liking Patrick Mahaney: Veterinarian Acupuncture Pain Management for Your Pets on Facebook.

Copyright of this article (2014) is owned by Dr Patrick Mahaney, Veterinarian and Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist. Republishing any portion of this article must first be authorized by Dr Patrick Mahaney. Requests for republishing must be approved by Dr Patrick Mahaney and received in written format.