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Vet urges caution with dogs in public places

The killing of a dog by another at the outdoor dining area
of a popular St. George Island restaurant last week might have been prevented with
an extra dose of caution.

This is not to suggest there was any breaking of laws involved;
Sheriff A.J. Smith has determined it was a terrible accident.

 “I didn’t see any criminal intent on everybody’s part
to do anything wrong,” he told WMBB TV following the Wednesday afternoon

Deputies viewed the security footage and saw the German shepherd
was on a leash at the split seconds it bit and killed an elderly longhair Chihuahua.

“The person with the Chihuahua seemed to be engaging with
the German shepherd, talking to it, extending his arm,” Smith told WMBB.

The sheriff said the Blue Parrot adhered to county and state
laws that require all dogs be on a leash, and that service dogs are the only
ones allowed inside.

“Any unruly dogs must leave the restaurant,” said restaurant
co-owner George Joanos.

He said the video from the incident indicated the Chihuahua’s
owner had welcomed the presence of the German shepherd, which then suddenly lashed
out, as swift as a snake bite, at the six-pound dog sitting in a chair on the outside

Eastpoint veterinarian Hobson Fulmer said this unpredictability
is what pet owners have to understand, and incorporate in their pet care

“Unless your dog is gentle and friendly in all situations,
don’t take it out in public,” he said. “If it is ‘protective,’ timid, grumpy, ‘plays
rough,’ fearful, ‘was abused,’ shy or ever shows any aggression in any
situation, keep it at home.

“Many dogs don’t belong in public. All too often I have to
deal with the outcomes, and I am getting weary of owners making excuses for
their dog’s poor behavior,” Fulmer said. “Nobody wants to think their child, or
their dog, misbehaves.”

The vet said the key is being alert to any signs of

“Every dog’s an individual and you just have to know their tendencies,”
he said. “It may have been the first time the dog has ever shown an aggression,
but I doubt it. People have to be realistic of what their dog is capable of.

“It doesn’t matter why, it’s what happens,” Fulmer said. “It
doesn’t matter why they’re aggressive. If they show aggressive tendencies in
any situation, it is not a good idea to take them out. if your dog is not friendly
in all situations, don’t take it out in public. Enjoy them at home.”

He said one of his own dogs fence-fights other dogs, and
that while he’s a good dog and has never hurt anybody, he isn’t taken out in
public settings. “I don’t know how he would act,” said Fulmer.

“It varies from dog to dog,” he said. “Certain breeds are
more prone to be aggressive, but there are more variations within a breed.”

As Franklin County touts its dog-friendly reputation, with
an expanding presence of dogs taken into public places, Fulmer appealed to pet
owners to exercise care and caution.

“We have a dog-friendly reputation but dogs like this will
ruin that,” he said. “We treat them like children but they’re animals. They’re
not 100 percent predictable.”

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Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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