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Aggression is defined as threats or harmful actions directed toward another individual or animal. In animals, aggressive behaviors are a means of communication. Dogs and cats use aggressive displays, threats, and attacks to resolve disputes.
If at anytime you feel in imminent danger by an aggressive animal or if you witness an animal attacking a person or animal, call 911 immediately. Police can respond faster and help assess the situation until Animal Services arrives.
If confronted by an aggressive animal, but you are not in immediate danger call from a safe location and report the incident*. You will need to provide the following information:
- Type of animal
- Breed (if known)
- Sex (if known)
- Location of animal
- Your contact information
- Owner of the animal information (if known)
- Any witness contact information
*Animal Services will respond to each case on a priority basis.
Aggressive Behavior in Animals:
"Aggression" describes the behavior, but does not give any information about underlying motives or causes. Aggression can have multiple motivations:
- Dominance (status related)
- Possessive (food or toys)
- Protective and territorial (family and property)
- Predatory (the hunt)
- Fear induced
- Pain induced
- Parental (protective of litter)
The distance between the animal and the perceived threat can be influential in determining the animals response. This is often called the "flight" distance. If the intrusion is far away, the animal may choose to flee. But, if the intrusion is very close, the animal may choose to fight. If flight is inhibited, as in a dog or cat that is cornered or tied up, aggression or fight is likely to occur.
Most dogs, and some cats, on their own territory are more likely to fight than retreat. When approached rapidly, a dog or cat may go through the stages of aggressive behavior very quickly and bite without the intruder being able to react. This happens in encounters between people and animals because they may approach too close, too fast. Dogs and cats that are mildly fearful may calm down if the intruder shows no fear, waits until the pet settles, and then offers a food reward. Avoid reaching for a dog or cat while continuing to advance. This is most likely to lead to aggression. Standing still is often the best way to reduce aggression in the dog that is chasing.