Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

Rescued Dog Could Pose Danger In Case Of Emergency

DEAR ABBY: My widowed 86-year-old mom was living by herself. My unmarried sister, "Anne," has become ill and has moved in with Mom. Anne wanted a dog. At first Mom was against it because they both have cats, but she finally gave in and Anne got a year-old beagle mix from the dog rescue.

I have been afraid of dogs since I was little. My family knows this. Usually, once I get to know a dog I'm OK, and I have had several of my own. But this animal has abandonment and abuse issues. He's very aggressive and barks, growls and lunges at anyone who comes into the house. It makes me afraid, so I have quit visiting and hardly ever drop by.

Mom and Anne have very little control over the dog. I worry that in an emergency -- whether for Mom or Anne --- the EMTs would not be able to get past the animal. What can I do? -- SCARED IN IOWA

DEAR SCARED: Explain to them that not all emergency medical technicians (EMTs) have been formally trained to handle unruly or vicious animals, and precious time might be lost. If your sister or mother wasn't around to control the dog and the EMTs were unable to lure it to another room, animal control would have to be summoned or a neighbor found who could assist, and the consequences could be serious. Then cross your fingers that nothing bad happens.

Read more in: Family & Parenting | Health & Safety