Feral Dog Dangers
Something we've discussed many times is how food is going to be a priority after the SHTF. Sure, you are prepared with a stockpile that will last for quite some time and beyond that you have plans to grow your own food. This is excellent, but that does not mean you are out of the woods by any means. Even though you have food to eat, the next guy may not. That makes him a threat that you may sooner or later have to handle and he's not the only threat you may face.
The fact of the matter is it is not just the creepy guy down the block that is going to be hungry once the SHTF. Let's think for a minute not about man but instead about man's best friend, only not the average pooch but those who instead roam the streets wild and free. The city of New Orleans, for instance, has been dotted with what are now considered wild dogs in a post Hurricane Katrina landscape. Then there is Detroit, where thousands of feral dogs are said to roam about in abandoned buildings. We are talking about packs of dogs breeding indiscriminately with no human to call their own and therefore no one to train them and make them into trustworthy canine citizens.
Where there is a pack of dogs, there is pack mentality. This is essentially a pecking order type system that balances dominance and submission amongst dogs but does cross over into interactions between humans and dogs. A dominant dog may challenge you if he feels his pack or den are threatened. He also will probably challenge you over of food. Hunger is a powerful motivator, after all. Keep in mind, too, that dogs have an excellent sense of smell, so if you are preparing food out in the open, it is very possible that you may have some uninvited feral canine guests for dinner. Then the questions becomes one of how are you going to fend off wild dogs not just to eat that meal but to continue to survive?
The typical family dog is very unlikely to bite unprovoked, but a feral dog is a whole different ball game. A wild dog could bite out of aggression or even fear, leaving you with a nasty bite wound which is going to be difficult to care for after TEOTWAWKI. You could need stitches, infection may set in due to bacteria in the dog's mouth, and it may even be possible that the dog that bit you had rabies. These dogs aren't vaccinated after all, and who knows where they've been or to what they've been exposed.
So what do you do if you get bit by a dog of unknown history or origin? Medical intervention is preferred, of course, but may not be available. Depending on the location of the bite, caring for it may prove difficult and seeking help from at least a friend may be necessary. First and foremost bleeding will need to be stopped via the application of pressure. Once that is done, the wound will need to be closely examined to assess the amount of damage done. If tissue is severely damaged, debridement may be necessary. Any jagged pieces of torn flesh will need to be trimmed up and any foreign materials removed. It will also need to be cleaned and rinsed with a sterile solution. It then needs to be determined whether or not stitching is necessary. Puncture wounds, for example, are generally fine to leave open, but rips and tears may need to be sutured closed. This is dependent upon factors such as the location and severity of the bite as well as the ability to treat it. Keep in mind that when it comes to dog bites, most of the damage is going to be below the skin. This means your bite is going to look a lot worse in the days after it occurred.
As an owner and lover of dogs, it may be hard to imagine the reality that one day you may have to go toe to toe with a pack of dogs that want to do serious harm to you, but it is important to realize the possibility exists and to arm yourself accordingly. According to the ASPCA, 3.9 million dogs and 3.4 million cats cycle through animal shelters every year. Imagine a world where the SHTF and those floodgates are suddenly opened, releasing those animals into the world to fend for themselves, competing with you for food. Not all of those dogs are going to be cute and cuddly and as they roam and breed will become even less so. And what about that 3.4 million cats? If you think a cat won't bite you, you are sadly mistaken.
Various dog bite statistics are available to let you know where you stand in the canine world. For example, Americans have a 1 in 50 chance of being bitten by a dog annually. There were 42 fatal dog bites in 2014. Also in 2014, loose dogs inflicted 40% of attacks, a number that has risen from past years. Dog bites account for more than 90% of all animal bites. 900,000 people seek emergency treatment for dog bites each year but far more are bitten, to the tune of about 4.2 million or more. In the end, the only way to truly handle a dog bite is not to get one. So remember, when the TEOTWAWKI arrives and you are face to face with the likes of Cujo, stay calm, avoid eye contact, do not advance, and follow the rest of these suggestions to get out safely.
Have you ever been bitten by a dog and in what type of circumstances? Have you ever been able to successfully diffuse a situation with an aggressive dog? Tell us how in the comments.