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A Safford man is having to get a series of rabies shots after being attacked by three dogs and he’s urging local residents to be on alert for the dogs.

The 67-year-old man, who requested anonymity, said he was out on his daily walk on 8th Avenue near 24th Place Saturday Oct. 16 when the incident took place.

“I was crossing the bridge going toward the cemetery when I saw three dogs,” he said. “One of them started growling at me and the other two took their lead from him and started coming at me. They started nipping at my heels and barking at me so I started going the other way.”

The dogs left when he started yelling and whistling as loudly as he could, the man said. By this point his sweatpants were torn and one of his shoes was halfway off and untied.

“I wasn’t bleeding so I paused for a few minutes to collect my thoughts, but when I bent down to tie my shoe, they came back around the corner,” he said. “This is when they got really vicious.”

Despite yelling and whistling again, the dogs kept coming at him, biting his ankle and his hand and leaving him covered in bruises, the man said.

When the dogs abruptly took off, the man said he walked home and called authorities.

Although animal control officers weren’t on duty, the man said Safford Officer Nick Muenchow came to his house and couldn’t have been nicer.

“I was worried because when I was walking home I saw a lady walking with a stroller and a little kid on a bike right next to her,” the man said. “I thought I’d call the newspaper because I want to make sure nobody else gets bit.”

Taking Muenchow’s advice, the man said he went to Mt. Graham Regional Medical Center where he received the first of four rabies shots, a tetanus shot and antibiotics.

Muenchow continued to look all weekend for the dogs to no avail, the man said.

None of the dogs were wearing collars, but he wouldn’t tell if they were strays, the man said. One of the dogs was white and scraggly with black spots and the others looked like pit bull mixes. One was brown and the other black.

“I’ve walked that path for almost 15 years and I’ve never had an encounter like that,” the victim said. “I see dogs all of the time and I’ll say ‘Hello’ and they’ll come and sniff me, but these dogs weren’t having it.”

He resume his daily walks on Monday, but he’s carrying pepper spray now, the man said.

Safford Police Chief Glen Orr said the victim did exactly the right thing when he stood his ground instead of running and when he tried to be as loud as he could to scare the dogs. He also made the right move when he called the police

While the city gets a fair number of loose dog calls, Orr said it’s not often they get dog bite calls.

Since Jan. 1, they’ve received 284 animal calls, most involving barking dogs and loose dogs, Orr said Wednesday.

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