In response to deadly dog attacks published in the Aug. 15 edition of the Hi-Desert Star.

First of all, I would like to express my sincere, heartfelt condolences for your little Foxy. This is such a tragedy for Foxy, you and your husband. I can only imagine the horror that you experienced.

It is extremely unfortunate that this type of attack is not isolated. In my many years as a dog trainer, and more recently as a certified animal behaviorist, I have heard many similar tragic stories. Some have been coyote attacks, and others, dogs that are running loose attacking smaller dogs while their owners are peacefully walking them.

I always advise that people be alert and carry an air horn with them on walks. If a person sees a loose dog or coyote approaching, they should outstretch their arm in the direction of the approaching animal and blow the air horn. Ninety-nine percent of the time the offender will turn and go the other direction. This gives the owner time to retreat to safety with their beloved dog.

The dog will need to be desensitized to the air horn. This exercise will take two people to perform. First, allow the dog to see and smell the air horn. While the dog is stationary on leash with the handler, the second person moves a great distance away from the dog and sounds the air horn. Immediately, the dog should be given a high-value treat, petted, and talked to in a calm voice. This is repeated, moving the sound of the air horn closer to the dog, being careful not to take the dog over threshold of the sound. Some dogs will take to this quickly, while others may require several sessions over time.

I personally have used an air horn to break up a serious dog fight by blowing the air horn into the middle of the attack. The dogs were stunned by the sound and quickly retreated from each other. Air horns can be purchased at any sporting goods store.

Yucca Valley and San Bernardino County do have a leash law. In a court of law, an owner could possibly be held accountable for the damage their dog has done. I would check with an attorney.

There are two types, or breeds, of pit bulls. There are the pit bulls that are bred to be fighters. Owners who engage in this awful sport breed the dogs for strength, tenacity, aggressiveness and size.

Then there are the pit bulls that are bred to be family dogs, sweet and loving. The problem is that most times an owner will not know which breeding practices their adopted pit bull came from until a situation arises that may bring out the worst in the pit bull.

Most people love their dogs and treat them as family members. Sensitive period experiences, socialization, training, and breeding all play important roles in the well-adjusted dog.

God bless the memory of Foxy.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Lori Herbel holds a certificate in applied animal behavior from the University of Washington.

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