A young New Zealander was attacked by a pack of dogs in Thailand, an opportunity to remind a few simple rules to know how to react with aggressive dogs.
In Thailand, there are often packs of dogs that stay quiet during the day but sometimes become aggressive at night, they are especially dangerous for children, but nobody is safe from a bite, especially since there are cases of rabies in the country.
There are problems with stray and adopted dogs; the former are often more fearful; the latter are usually free to go where they want and gather in packs in the evening to protect their territories.
New Zealand teenager attacked by a pack of dogs
PS: New Zealanders call themselves “kiwi.”
A teenage Kiwi girl’s idyllic vacation in Thailand turned into a nightmare after being attacked by a pack of stray dogs while running alone on a famous beach.
Sarah Calley, 16, narrowly escaped attack by 12 wild dogs and only escaped by diving into the sea, where she was forced to walk in the water until the animals no longer cared about her.
The teenager from Christchurch, who hoped to become a veterinarian, said she was now living in fear of dogs.
During a holiday in January, she had started running early in the morning along the beautiful beach of Nai Yang in Phuket, when she felt a jolt of pain and turned around to see a stocky brown dog that bit her on her calf.
The pack leader was quickly joined by 11 other dogs, who “came out of nowhere” to chase Calley, who started running along the beach shouting for help.
“I could hear them behind me and shouted, ‘Help me,’ but there was no one on the beach,” she said.
The dogs bit her twice before she went into the sea.
One of the dogs bit her on the ankle while she was diving into the water.
There, Calley waited until another tourist took her back to the hotel.
Just five meters from the hotel park, the brown dog came back for a second attack, forcing Calley, who was limping, to slam the hotel door.
“I was hysterical and shouted that I was bitten, but almost no one spoke English,” she said.
She then found her parents again but in shock, had difficulty being understood as her mother Moira tells us:
“She was standing; she had her phone in her hand, she was hysterical, and blood was running down her legs.”
As the holidays had been organized as a surprise for Calley and her sister Michaela, the girls had not been vaccinated against rabies.
Moira took her daughter to the shower to clean the wounds, while her husband rushed to the reception to call a taxi.
Driven to a nearby hospital, Calley received several injections, including rabies vaccines.
Her skin had not been torn, but she had deep perforations in the back of her leg.
They were treated in “variable quality” medical clinics every day for the rest of the two-week vacation, and her rabies treatment was completed in New Zealand.
The bites also made Calley uncomfortable a few days later, when his family had flown to Cambodia.
She was also unable to swim for the rest of the two-week trip for fear of being infected.
Calley said she had developed a fear for all dogs but was trying to overcome it to achieve her dream of becoming a veterinarian.
Calley’s tragedy comes after last month’s New Zealand Herald revealed the problems that can happen during a trip to Thailand.
Since 2009, 150 Kiwis traveling to Thailand have requested overseas medical assistance from the New Zealand government – the highest number of requests from any country.
But while Kiwis are more often warned of risks, such as alcohol consumption or injuries during adventure activities, rabies remains widespread in the country.
A week before Calley’s attack in January, the dogs also bit five other tourists, according to an article in the Phuket News.
Southern Cross Insurance President and CEO Chris White said claims for animal bites, particularly dogs and monkeys, are not uncommon.
“Some popular destinations for New Zealanders, such as Thailand, Samoa, and the Cook Islands, are home to animals that may appear domesticated,” he said.
The Worldwise Travelers Health and Vaccination Center website stated that tourists should consider rabies vaccination before traveling to Thailand with children with “particularly high exposure rates” because of their attraction to stray dogs.
Calley said Kiwi travelers should beware of stray dogs abroad because while they may seem friendly, they can suddenly become aggressive.
“Especially in the morning, it’s their hunting season. And don’t run because they might see you as prey,” she said.
Aggressive dog pack: how to react?
In general, they are not a problem, they growl a little, but if you go your way without worrying about it, they leave you alone.
Now, if they are aggressive and block your way, there are several solutions, but they are not necessarily obvious to everyone:
The peaceful reaction
- already, if you are on foot, you should not run, because then, in their heads, you will be a prey and they will chase you
- you should not show your fear, because they feel it and you should keep your calm, think about taking deep breaths and keeping your breath long, this already takes away some of the stress, and even if they feel your fear, they will be impressed by your calm appearance
- you should avoid looking them in the eye, as they see this as a provocation while keeping a close eye on those who come too close
- you should not show them your teeth, with an American smile, for example, because they also see it as a provocation
- you can bend down and pretend to pick up a stone, then keep the fake stone as if you were ready to throw it at them, sometimes that’s enough to keep them at a distance
- if you have a backpack, an umbrella or any other similar object, you can use it as protection, put it in front of the closest dogs
- take shelter at height if you have the possibility
- do not turn your back on aggressive dogs who prefer to attack from behind
- keep arms close to the body, closed points, so you don’t get bitten
- if they growl at you, twirl a bag or other objects (not a steak;) around you to keep them away
- if you have food, give some to distract them.
The aggressive method
You always have to try pacifist methods first, but sometimes they are too aggressive, and you will have no choice but to defend yourself:
- use a stick to scare them by making it spin around you and if not the choice, hit the body, but not the top of the head which is very hard
- If you don’t have a choice, you can use your fists to hit; the nose is very sensitive and can even kill them.
- use pepper, but it can make them more aggressive, or a pepper spray, but you will have to buy it on the spot because it will not pass through the airport
Aggressive dogs: what to do in case of a bite
Consult a doctor immediately, as early treatment is essential to reduce the risk of infection.
Wash the area with mild antibacterial soap and running water to reduce the risk of infection.
Apply an antibiotic ointment and cover with a clean bandage or sterile dressing.
Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before and after wound treatment.
To reduce swelling, apply an ice bag wrapped in a cold towel or compress (cloth soaked in cold water) to the blue for 5 to 10 minutes.
If you have been bitten, always assume that a stray dog bite poses a risk of rabies infection and therefore, a fast-acting vaccine (rabies immunoglobulin) is needed to prevent the rabies virus from infecting you.
The rabies vaccines are injected into the arm.
You usually receive four injections over 14 days.
Aggressive dog pack: my experience
I like dogs, and I don’t have any problems in general, except when I’m on a bike, on a motorcycle, just put your legs in and accelerate.
Once in Thailand, I was in a complicated situation, faced with a whole group of aggressive dogs blocking my way by barking.
I was on my bike, and it must have been 1 am, if I forced the dam they would have run at me, so I looked at the one who looked the most aggressive and seemed to me to be the leader, and I ran at him and ran him for a while.
They were all scared and ran away in terror because I was not the prey but the hunter and then they never caused me any more problems; they would go away when they saw me coming from far away.
Otherwise, when I arrive in a new place, and there are aggressive dogs on my way in the evening, I always try to take the time to make myself known by stopping and letting them feel my hand, a kind of presentation that sometimes ends with a caress session.
And if they are aggressive, then I play the dominant, I growl at them too, I chase them, it’s scarce that a dog doesn’t run away from a human, but it happens, and after this little game, they leave me alone then the other days.