I was downtown today on Santa Barbara’s main drag, State Street. For those of you who aren’t familiar with our town, State St. is always busy, but during Summer it takes on a life of its own. Locals, tourists, college students, families, and homeless people can all be found wandering up and down our lovely, palm tree lined downtown area. Although we have the occasional violent crime, I have never felt unsafe while shopping downtown during the day. I often have my kids with me, and they love to skip ahead and look in all of the store windows.
I thought nothing of it as I crossed the street today, alongside a handful of other people. It didn’t occur to me to take special note of the man walking toward me with a dog on a leash. As they passed, I felt the dog bump my leg, and as I turned to look down, I saw the owner pull on its leash as if to reprimand it, and continue to walk in the other direction.
At first, I thought that maybe the dog had pawed at me. Within a few seconds, though, I started to suspect that perhaps the dog hadn’t merely pawed at me, as I started to feel a stinging/burning sensation where the dog had touched me. I was wearing jeans (luckily) so I tried to see if I could feel any blood. I crossed the street again and headed toward a bathroom so I could take further stock of what had happened. The man and his dog were further down the street at that point, and I was so in shock from what had happened that it didn’t really occur to me to run after him.
When I got into the bathroom I saw two red marks with bruises starting to form around them. My leg was still stinging, and I knew at that point that the dog had in fact bitten me. Thankfully, I wasn’t bleeding, and the dog hadn’t broken the skin. I left the bathroom and tried to determine my next move. I called my husband who encouraged me to tell the police. There happened to be two police officers nearby, so I alerted them to what happened and they took my information. They said they would look for the guy and make sure the dog was licensed and up to date on shots.
And that was the end of that. I have no idea if they found the guy, or if they even bothered looking for him. My main concern is that the dog bit me completely unprovoked…if I had been walking on the street with my kids, the situation could have been much worse. There are hundreds of people walking around downtown right now with their children, who could very easily be bitten by this dog. It’s not a small dog, and it’s not a breed that you would stereotypically expect to bite you. It is a very bad combination.
I will, without question, be more aware of people with dogs from now on, and I’m going to use this incident to remind the kids to keep away from dogs we don’t know.
Of course this happens right before I’m heading to New York for five days. In August. Where I’ll be wearing shorts and skirts in an effort to combat the heat and humidity. I’m going to have to plan my outfits so that they coordinate with my bruise.