‘Poor upbringing’: Dog expert says attacks are not a breed

Officials say there are still no charges for the owner or people responsible for the dogs.

ST. LOUIS — The investigation continues into who is responsible for three dogs that killed a St. Louis man and injured two others this week.

Kristen Duhr, a dog behavior specialist, has spent the past 20 years rehabilitating aggressive or unruly dogs.

“This is the result of, essentially, a poor upbringing,” Duhr said.

“Under socializing, separating pups from their mother too early, and raising dogs in an aggressive environment leads to them possibly threatening or attacking strangers,” Duhr said.

In this case, the three dogs were pit bull terriers.

“I’ve seen chihuahuas be equally unfriendly,” Duhr said. “This isn’t a breed situation.”

If you come face to face with an aggressive dog, don’t run.

“The best thing you can do is recognize by running it will encourage a dog to chase,” Duhr said. “If you have one dog doing it, you will have two more right on their heels. What you should do is turn around in the other direction and slowly walk away. If you have anything on you like food, Hansel and Gretel it behind you so the dogs are as occupied as possible.”

She also recommends dog mace. 

She said there’s a cure for aggressive dogs: socialize them early and give them lots of TLC. Duhr said aggressive dogs are a result of negligence by the owner. 

Rehabilitating an overly aggressive dog or one that’s attacked someone is incredibly hard. Most scenarios end with the dog being put down.

The dogs in this instance were taken from a residence, according to a spokesperson for the Health Department, which oversees Animal Control. The department released a statement today.

“Three dogs were seized and are being impounded at our shelter relating to the investigation of this incident. Our Animal Care and Control officer is conducting the investigation. Service requests are not created based on a dog’s breed. A review of all animal-related calls through the Citizens’ Service Bureau (CSB) found very few requests for service in that immediate area. Within an eight-block square of the 4800 block of San Francisco, our data only shows two service requests in the past year, one for a leash law concern and the other for a report of an animal bite. For the entire City of St. Louis, there were 1,617 requests for service for all breeds of dogs. (request for service only, not confirmed request) for stray dogs/dogs at large/leash law/dangerous dogs in the city. We encourage residents to report any concerns to CSB at 314-622-4800.”

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