RUSSELL COUNTY, Ala — One Russell County mother is advocating for tougher laws for owners of large dogs. She wants to see Alabama get tougher on those dog owners in order to protect kids at bus stops.
Mia Upshaw’s children ride the bus each day. She worries that a neighbor’s dog, a Rottweiler, will hurt, attack, or kill her children.
“My kids’ lives are more important than a dog. I’m sorry. He’s beautiful. Don’t get me wrong. He’s well-groomed and beautiful. But he’s huge, and he will swallow my ten year old up in a matter of minutes, and I know it,” says Upshaw.
That’s why Upshaw says she’d like to see Alabama’s law changed to offer children greater protection during the hours they board and depart the school buses.
“I’d like to see Alabama have something in place for owners to have the vicious type of dogs tied up, locked up during school bus hours, morning and afternoon,” says Upshaw.
But what should a child do if he or she encounters an unfamiliar dog? News 3 spoke with Columbus veterinarian Dr. Lena Harris. She has suggestions. First, she says tell your child not to act scared.
“Ignore it. And if comes near you, don’t stiffen up and freak out. Just relax and ignore the dog’s presence,” says Dr. Harris.
Also, tell your kids to avoid eye contact. Dogs see it as a challenge. And perhaps most importantly, tell your kids not to run.
“If you run, then the game is, get the object that’s running and take it down because that’s the game they play. And it may not be that he’s real aggressive, but it’s going to end up that way if you’re fighting him back,” says Dr. Harris.
Dr. Harris adds that dog owners have tremendous responsibility when it comes to protecting others from their pets. She says if an owner knows a dog has vicious tendencies, an owner should take precautions to restrain it.
Mia Upshaw says she loves animals and understands dogs need to exercise. She explains that she even thinks the Rottweiler is beautiful. However, she would just like to see a change in Alabama law that holds dog owners responsible for extra restraint of their animals during hours kids get on and off school buses.