Protecting Yourself and Your Family from Dog Bites and Attacks
Serena HuJune 16, 2010 2:19 PM
Did you know that dog bites are the second most common childhood injury requiring emergency room care? In fact, the CDC reports that 60% of the 4.7 million people bitten each year are children. According to their data, about half of all children twelve years of age and under have been bitten at least once. As a result, dog bite injuries are reported more frequently than playground incidents and sporting activities. Besides for children, others frequently bitten include the elderly and delivery services personnel. These categories might not be very surprising, but what might be surprising is that most attacks occur in the home or at a familiar place. The attacking dog usually is not a stray or feral dog, but rather a family pet.
Thankfully, most dog bites are relatively minor. Only ten to twenty of the 4.7 million people bitten each year die as a result of dog bites. In spite of this, nobody wants to fall victim to a dog bite, watch a family member get attacked, or worry about the legal repercussions and fate of the family pet. Responsible dog ownership, including proper socialization, adult supervision, humane training, veterinary care, and safe confinement, is important to prevent dogs from biting. Beyond responsible dog ownership, there are ways you can conduct yourself to avoid dog bites.
· Never approach a strange dog, especially one tied up or confined behind a fence or in a car. The dog may feel threatened and bite out of fear or to protect its territory.
· Do not pet a dog without letting him see and smell you first.
· Never turn your back on a dog and run away. A dog’s natural instinct is that situation is to chase and catch you, and it is very unlikely that you will be able to outrun it.
· Do not disturb a dog while it is sleeping, eating, chewing on a toy, or caring for puppies.
· If a dog approaches you to sniff you, stay still, keep your hands to yourself, and avoid eye contact. In most cases, the dog will leave you alone after it determines that you are not a threat.
· Be cautious around strange dogs and treat your pet with respect. Assume that a dog sees you as an intruder or potential threat. Children in particular need to be careful around pets and need to be taught to ask for permission before touching a dog.
If bitten, make sure you can identify the dog that bit you. If you cannot identify the dog and review its vaccination history, you may need to be treated for rabies as a precaution. Depending on the prevalence of rabies in your area, your doctor may or may not recommend rabies vaccination following the bite.