There are many things that are not taught in real estate appraisal textbooks. One is how appraisers can avoid a dog bite. Almost every appraiser that I meet around Portland, Oregon has a story of a narrow escape or injury from a dog or other animal. I have several appraiser animal stories myself. Such narratives usually start with the owner saying something like, “Don’t worry, my dog is friendly and never bites.”
However, pets can see appraisers as different from typical visitors. When viewing a property, appraisers are walking around with measuring devices and tablets looking at parts of the home that typical visitors do not, and often without the owner of the property nearby. This normal real estate appraiser activity can look suspicious to a pet and make otherwise friendly dogs uneasy. For this reason, real estate appraisers must exercise extreme caution around dogs.
When scheduling the appraisal viewing and when greeting the property owner at the front door, the appraiser should always ask the owner to control any pets. Some owners might be able to place the dog in a pen, kennel, or move the dog to an area of the property away from the part of the home being viewed by the appraiser. If this step is taken seriously by the appraiser and the dog owner, it could eliminate almost all appraiser dog bites. Nevertheless, there are still situations where the appraiser may encounter a dog and need to know what to do. I’ve been chased by dogs immediately after getting out of my car at rural properties and I’ve had a another home resident come home with another dog who did not know I was still in the house.
Here is a list of precautions that an appraiser can take to avoid dog bites when owner control fails (Another good source is the Portland, Oregon Humane Society):
1. Check for dogs before opening a door or gate.
2. Avoid going near a dog, especially if it is resting, eating, or has a toy.
3. Let a dog smell and finish investigating you before you try to pet them. Avoid looking at them in the eye, because this can be a threat.
4. Carry dog treats in your pocket. Offering an uncomfortable dog a treat can turn a seemingly unfriendly dog into your best friend. Just make sure to ask the owner, when possible, before offering a treat. Some dogs can have allergies or need special diets to survive. Killing a homeowner’s pet could be more upsetting than an appraiser who “kills the loan.”
5. Stay calm and do not run away from an aggressive dog. The appraiser should stand still or back away slowly. It is best to keep your hands at your side, where they do not become a target for bite. If it looks like you’re about to be bitten, an appraiser’s tablet or measuring device can be directed toward the open jaws of an attacking dog.
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