Dog bites on the rise: Texas Legislature cracking down

AMARILLO, Texas---Without notice, a dog can transform from a loveable pet to a lethal animal.

"I did a report where a girl was missing half of her bottom lip from a dog bite," Amarillo Animal Control Officer Barbara McGregor said.

That's just one of many stories she can tell you from her time on the clock.

"There was also a little girl who had climbed up over the fence and stuck her hand over it and a boxer jumped up and took her pinky finger off."

It's a scary reality.

From October 2011 to January of this year, Amarillo Animal Control says there have been 179 confirmed cases of dog bites.

To put that into perspective, that's more than one bite every single day of every month.

In the state of Texas, more than 400,000 dog bites were documented in 2011.

Here's something that might come as a shock to you:

"The majority of animals are known by the people that are bitten whether it's a friends house they were over at, a family dog or a next door neighbors dog," McGregor said.

Often times bites come as a result from teasing or startling the animal.

In rare cases, a dog may get loose and if that happens, McGregor has some advice.

"Pretend like you're a tree and stand as still as you can," she said. "A lot of dogs may come up and bark at you or even nudge you but they'll go away."

Here's what you should do if you are being attacked:

"If the dog has knocked you on the ground, you want to protect your neck and get your belly on the ground so they can't get to you."

All dogs are required to be confined to their property per Amarillo city ordinance.

Recently, the Texas Legislature passed a bill where pet owners can face prison time if their animal attacks and kills someone.

For more information on Amarillo Animal Control, visit them on the web at