Animal bite prompts lesson on safety

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The Austin area is known for its friendly atmosphere and its up-close-and-personal relationship with area wildlife. However, just because these animals are seen, this does not mean residents should interact with them. A recent accident on the city's south side has prompted officials to steer clear of wildlife, in order to prevent an unprovoked attack. Back in October, a 3-year-old boy was bitten by what was first thought to be a German Shepherd. The boy had seen the animal, and after offering it a fruit snack the animal jumped on the boy, knocked him to the ground and bit his left cheek. The boy is expected to make a full recovery. However, upon further investigation, it is believed that it was not a dog that attacked the little boy, but a coyote instead. Coyotes are native to the area and can often be seen in local parks. Officials have also witnessed people in the park approaching the animals and feeding them, something they strongly caution against. Coyotes generally are non-aggressive and steer clear of humans, but when tempted with an easy meal such as bread or a hot dog, they will often approach the person offering the treat. Officials advise against this, because it destroys the animals' natural ability to track and kill its own food. Allowing the coyotes to be fed by humans could bring even more of the animals into contact with other humans and increases the chances of another attack occurring. Authorities advise that if a person does come into contact with a coyote, they should stomp their feet and yell at the animal to make it leave the area. Although this was not a traditional animal bite case, people are still bitten by domesticated animals every day. For those who are injured, seeking compensation for those injuries is within their rights. Speaking with an experienced legal professional can help anyone determine what those rights might be and how to enforce them. Source: Chicago Tribune, "Possible coyote attack on 3-year-old boy concerns West Side community" Michelle Manchir, Nov. 20, 2013

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