Fear of Biting

Nov 15, 2017

To the Editor:

Years ago, in North Jersey, my dad was bitten quite badly in the stomach by an unleashed dog as he was out for his daily constitutional. Naturally, his fear of dogs was born, as was mine. For years I would cross the street or turn back when I saw a large dog. If one came near me, I would scream uncontrollably. I’m not proud of that, but the fear was deeply ingrained. It took me years to overcome the fear, and finally I was even able to stop and pet dogs I encountered.

Then two or three years ago, on my daily beach trek, I came upon a woman who had just been attacked and bitten quite badly in the stomach and wrist by a dog whose owner said nothing like that had ever happened before. The injured woman was trembling and traumatized. I stayed with her until the police arrived and helped her make some phone calls. I was now once again traumatized myself and very wary. 

The other day there were several unleashed large dogs, as there are most days, on the beach in Surf City and one came barreling toward me. I realized after the fact that he meant no harm, but my fear kicked in and a piercing scream came from deep within.

I am recounting these incidents after reading Faith Coleman’s letter (“Dog Debacle” 11/8). While I know that dog owners love their dogs as family members, and if I had a dog I would also, keep in mind what Faith said: “As much as people love their dogs, they are animals and will specifically act as such when left to run wild with no supervision or control. … There are many families that don’t care for dogs or who have had a traumatic experience in their past and who are afraid of dogs, and it is wholly unfair to subject these people to unknown dogs touching them or invading their space when they are simply trying to enjoy all the splendor that our town’s beaches have to offer.”

I know it is quite impossible to enforce the leash law on the beach, but if you are a dog owner and other people are nearby, please leash your dog. It’s the right thing to do.

Marilyn Arnhols

Surf City

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