With weather warming up and people going outside to enjoy different activities, Bolivar County Animal Shelter Director Jamie Gregory-Grant wants to send a friendly reminder to "paws" before approaching dogs outside.
According to Grant, with warmer weather comes an increate in pet biting issues because more children and dogs are outside.
"The best way to avoiding bites all together is if you see a dog without an owner, don’t engage but also don’t run away screaming. We teach and are learning that you should act like a tree. You stand tall, tuck your arms, put hands under your neck and don’t make eye contact. The dog will get bored and walk away," said Grant.
Once at a safe distance, be sure to call animal control so the animal can be picked up from the area.
"It's hard for children because their instinct is to run away and scream. Always ask permission to pet or go near a dog. There are people who have dogs that are not friendly but want to walk and exercise so you need to be aware and ask," she said.
Grant also reminds people not to leave their children alone with pets, no matter how long they have had that pet.
"The animal can't tell us hey that hurts and the only way to do that is to bite. Teach children to respect their pets and don’t pull ears or tails. Teach your child from a young age to respect animals. We have to protect our children and our animals," she said.
A lot of times, when a child is bitten it's because a child has wandered into their yard or pulled on their ears, tail, or hit them.
"Always ask permission and be respectful. Never leave a baby alone with a dog. Parents need to be proactive. If a dog shows signs of being uncomfortable such as being still, licking lips, laying their ears down, we need to respect that and give the dog space.
"We get a lot of dog bites and a lot of the reasons are children climbing on them or messing with their puppies. Don’t mess with a dog eating, sleeping, or with their babies. We're all flawed creatures people and dogs," she said.
Recently, Mississippi Senate Bill 2934 was passed, which would make participation in dogfighting a felony offense, punishable by a fine up to $5,000.
Those who promote or stage fights, bet on fights, own a dog with intent to enter it into a fight or own dogfighting paraphernalia could be sentenced to between one and five years in prison. Repeat offenses are punishable by a fine between $5,000 and $10,000, and prison sentences between three and 10 years.
Dogfight spectators could also face felony charges and fines, and prison sentences up to one year.
"Dog fighting isn’t something we see often in Cleveland but there are people that do it. It’s a big deal and I think it’s a long time coming," she said.
"We abide by the pit bull ordinance; dog must be neutered, updated on vaccines, not allowed to run loose. There are not bad dogs just bad people," added Grant.