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Wednesday, June 8,2016

Control Yourself

By Tina Valant-Siebelts  


Last month, here at a Boca Raton beach, swimmers harassed a two-foot nurse shark. Aggravated, the with its life for misguided human interaction.

Confession: Almost daily, I see an adorable dog; imagine running to young shark latched onto the arm of a young woman snorkeling. Even after the shark was killed, it would not release. She was taken to the hospital, and will recover with a souvenir (scar). People were in the shark’s environment, grabbed it by the tail and chased it. Sadly, the shark paid with its life.

Also last month, in Yellowstone National Park, visitors picked up a baby bison, put it in their SUV and took it to the park office. They thought it was lost and worried it was cold. There are signs posted in the park to stay at least 25 feet away from wildlife, for your own protection. Adult animals can become aggressive to protect their young. Park rangers attempted to return the calf to the herd, where it was repeatedly rejected. There is no approved facility to quarantine the bison calf to make sure it didn’t carry brucellosis. The park does not have the facility or means to care for an orphaned calf. It was euthanized. The tourists were issued a $110 fine and may face further charges. Again, an animal paid it, picking it up and smothering it with kisses on the head. HOWEVER

- I control myself, because I know dogs, proper canine etiquette and dog behavior. I respect that they do not enjoy getting handled by a complete stranger, and the person risks getting bitten. Imagine how it feels when someone invades your personal space and gets touchy with you!

As an animal-assisted therapy team-member, we taught bite-prevention to elementary and middle school kids. We shared the proper way to greet a dog:

1. Always ask the owner’s permission to approach.

2. Tuck your thumb into your palm, and wrap your fingers over it.

3. Bend down, to the dog (not hover over).

4. Offer the dog your curled up hand, to their nose.

5. Avoid staring into the dog’s eyes.

6. Avoid high-pitched sounds or baby talk.

7. Pet the dog under the chin or on the side - NOT atop the head.

8. If the dog moves away, don’t force yourself on him/her.

9. Thank the dog and owner, and calmly be on your way.

Humans feel the supreme need to do what we want, when we want, with little or no respect for the planet and the creatures we share our world with. As adults, we need to teach children better control, and how to cope with not always getting our way. We can best do this by leading by example.


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