When I was 5 years old, I remember my mother screaming at me: "Don't let Bootsey get too close to your face!" Bootsey, my gentle tabby cat and first pet, would really never hurt a fly. But as a rambunctious child, I had scratches all over me from aggravating the cat. Luckily, I did listen to my mother for the most part and didn't let him get his claws too close to my face.
Although I was only 5 years old, this story still holds true for a person of any age. We trust our pets, we love our pets, and we certainly do not think our pets would ever do us intentional harm. And most animals won't. But it is always a good idea to remember that animals do not have the ability to say to you: "Hey! Get out of my face. I'm in a bad mood today. I'm feeling threatened." Sometimes, animals may bark, growl, yowl, hiss, etc. to let you know they are not content. It is important to watch for these warning signs. But, accidents can happen in a split second.
Because I've worked with rescue organizations for awhile now, I've been around animals who have had good homes all of their lives, and animals who have been rescued from neglect, abandonment and abuse. Regardless of the situation, it is crucial that as humans, we know our boundaries. Just like animals, we need to use our instincts. I recommend to all current and future pet owners that you research animal behavior in order to truly understand the warning signs. Unfortunate events occur when people let their guard down around their own animals and around animals they do not know well. Not only do people end up badly hurt, but in many cases, the animals are euthanized. Then, there is usually a media frenzy centered around big, "vicious" dogs that attack when the incident was merely an accident on both ends. In order to avoid these situations, it is important to treat your pets with the same respect that we do people-give them space, watch for warning signs and understand your boundaries.
Check out the link below regarding a news anchor who was unfortunately attacked by an Argentine Mastiff. Clearly an accident, the anchor is in the hospital and the dog may be on his way to euthanasia. Keep in mind that the dog was on the live interview because he was just rescued out of an icy lake the day before. In my opinion, the stress from that situation alone and being surrounded by people close to his face probably prompted the attack. The following account of the situation, labeling it as a "vicious" attack, is unfair: