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Animal Protectors of Allegheny Valley employees injured in dog attack

Two employees of Animal Protectors of Allegheny Valley were injured Monday evening when they were attacked by a dog at the New Kensington animal shelter.

Phyllis Framel, a shelter board director, said the attack happened as the two employees were checking the kennel locks before closing for the night.

When a female employee opened a kennel to give a dog an extra blanket, the dog lunged and bit her leg, Framel said.

The dog also attacked a male employee who came to the woman's aid, biting his arm and legs. Framel said the female employee sprayed the dog with a hose to get it to release the man.

Framel said both employees were treated and released from a hospital Monday night. She said both required stitches. She expected them to be cleared to return to work within a few days.

The employees, whom Framel did not identify, were the only people in the building. She said safety concerns mean no one works alone.

“They did the right thing” in terms of how they handled the incident and contacting 911 to summon medical help, Framel said. “I'm sure it was very scary.”

Framel said the incident was one of the more serious animal attacks she can recall at the shelter. She said cat bites, which can involve deep punctures and the greater potential for bacterial infections, often are bigger concerns.

Framel believed the dog was a pit bull mix that had been in the shelter since early August.

“It was a dog that both of them had handled many times, and there had been no indication of a problem,” she said.

The female employee, who Framel described as an experienced dog handler, told Framel, “I've laid down in the kennel with him and cuddled with him before.”

Since the dog's medical background, including its vaccination history, is unknown, Framel said it must be quarantined for at least 10 days to monitor whether it shows signs of rabies. She said that's not likely since the dog already has been in the shelter's care for at least 10 days and has shown no signs of illness.

Framel was hoping the employees can avoid the intensive and expensive rabies treatment. She said their medical care is covered through the shelter's insurance.

As for the dog, its future is unknown but bleak. Although Animal Protectors is a no-kill shelter, Framel said euthanasia sometimes is necessary for dogs deemed too dangerous for adoption.

“A decision will be made about its future,” Framel said. “It will probably have to be euthanized. Once they bite, that's generally the policy. We will not release what we consider a dangerous dog to the public.”

Framel stressed the incident is a rarity for the shelter, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

She hoped the attack will not generate negative publicity for Animal Protectors as the agency ramps up efforts to raise money for an upcoming move to a new facility at Industrial Boulevard and Church Street in Parnassus.

“This is not going to help our fundraising,” she said.

Liz Hayes is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at [email protected] or 724-226-4680.


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