Dog Bite Prevention
There are currently nearly 75 million dogs in the United States. Each year, approximately 4.7 million people in the United States are the victims of dog bites. Over half of all dog bite victims are children. And of even greater concern, children are more than three times as likely as adults to suffer a serious injury. Eighty percent of dog bite fatalities are children.
While even the most gentle dog may bite if provoked, most dog bites are preventable. Both the Center for Disease Control and the American Veterinary Medical Association believe public education is the best way to prevent dog bite injuries.
Teach Your Child to Avoid Dog Bites
A parent can teach his child to take certain measures to minimize the chance that he will be bitten. Following is a partial list of child safety measures:
- Do not disturb a dog while it is eating, sleeping or nursing its puppies. A startled or frightened dog may bite.
- Before petting someone’s dog, ask the dog’s owner or caretaker for permission. If they say it’s okay, allow a dog to sniff you before petting the dog
- Never pet a dog that is playing a toy or a bone. Dogs are often protective of their belongings and may think the child is trying to take it.
- Do not tease or chase dogs
- Do not look a dog directly in the eye. He will feel challenged.
- Do not approach a dog that is tied up, locked behind a fence or unattended by an adult
- Remain motionless when approached by an unfamiliar dog. The dog will lose interest and go away.
- Do not run from or scream at a dog.
- Do not hug a dog, lie on a dog, or put your face close to his.
Steps a Dog Owner Can Take to Prevent Dog Bites
There are also steps a dog owner or a person considering becoming a dog owner can take to reduce the chance his dog will attack someone. Just a few of these steps follow:
- Consult with a veterinarian or respected breeder regarding appropriate breeds for you and your family. Breeds that are known to have aggressive tendencies are not appropriate for households with children.
- Spay or neuter your dog, preferably before he is 9 months old. This will reduce aggressive tendencies.
- Socialize and train your dog while he is still a puppy.
- Never leave a baby or toddler alone with your dog.
- Take care of your dog’s health care needs, including regular check-ups and vaccinations.
- Keep your dog on a leash or in a fenced-in yard.
- Do not leave your dog alone for long periods of time on a regular basis.
- Do not wrestle or otherwise play aggressively with your dog.
- Consult a veterinarian, dog trainer or respected breeder if your dog develops aggressive behavior.
- Dogs tend to be more aggressive when in groups. Keep your dog on a leash in the presence of unfamiliar dogs.
Dog bite injuries can cause serious and long lasting physical and emotional injuries to the victim and create a severe economic burden for victim’s family. If you or a loved one has been the victim of a dog bite attack, you should immediately seek medical attention for yourself or your loved one. You should also consult with an experienced dog bite attorney who will be able to advise you of your rights and potential remedies.