In the United States last year, 4.7 million people were bitten by dogs, with children being by far the most common victims, and the most likely to be severely injured. Over 800,000 Americans receive medical attention for dog bites annually – with 400,000 victims being children. The U.S. Postal Service reports that around 2,500 mail carriers are included in those statistics. The next-most common victims of dog bites are senior citizens. The American Veterinary Medical Association is teaming up with the U.S. Postal Service and American Academy of Pediatrics to sponsor the 18th annual National Dog Bite Prevention Week, (May 14-20), in hopes of educating the public on how best to prevent dog bites.
A dog’s mouth can deliver from 150 to 450 pounds of pressure. Imagine if the mouth with its strong sharp teeth is latched on your arm or your leg. A dog’s bite can cause deep punctures and big lacerations. It can also cause broken bones and may damage the muscles and the tendons. Naturally, these kinds of wounds would bleed profusely. That is why it is so important to understand the importance of preventing dog bites.
Here are some interesting facts from experts that will help us understand the nature of dogs, and what may cause them to bite, particularly, a child.
- Children are dog height, and may be loud and unpredictable. When a child screams and runs, it may seem like prey to a dog.
- If dogs are not socialized around children, they are often less tolerant and can be caught off guard by their behaviors. Carefully select your pet, and make sure it is socialized as a young puppy so it is at ease with other people and animals.
- Dogs have some degree of tolerance, but may reach their threshold of patience quickly. Do not tease them.
- Human behaviors that children may do around dogs, i.e., hug, kiss, and make eye contact are offensive to dogs, especially if they do not know the child.
- Signs of discomfort by a dog are: turning away, yawning, licking their lips, ears back, hair bristled up, then a growl or snap.
Here are some basic safety tips to teach and review with your children often. It’s good advice for adults, as well:
- Do not scream or run from a dog – remain motionless when approached by an unfamiliar dog.
- Do not approach an unfamiliar dog.
- Do not approach a dog that is alone in a fence, car, or on a chain. If you own a dog, be sure the fenced yard and gates are secure.
- Do not play with a dog unless supervised by an adult.
- Avoid direct eye contact with a dog.
- Do not bother a dog that is eating, sleeping, or taking care of puppies.
- Do not pet a dog without allowing it to see and sniff you first.
- If knocked over by a dog, roll into a ball and lie still (e.g., “be still like a log”).
- Try to throw a jacket, purse, or anything to distract him from you in the event of being attacked.
- Treat your pet with respect.
- Never leave a small child alone with a dog.
- Dogs must be vaccinated regularly. Rabies is a deadly disease caused by a virus that attacks the nervous system when bitten by a rabid animal. Vaccination is a simple way to protect your pets and family.
When someone is bitten by a dog, here’s what to do:
- If the dog’s owner is present, request proof of rabies vaccination, and get the owner’s name and contact information.
- Clean the bite wound with soap and water as soon as possible.
- Consult your doctor immediately or go to the emergency room if it’s after office hours.
- Contact the dog’s veterinarian to check vaccination records.
It is important to distribute this information to the public; however, please don’t get the idea that all dogs bite! There are around 67 million great dogs out there! It’s up to owners to teach them how to socialize, to see that they are spayed or neutered, and keep their shots current. They make wonderful companions, and love their owners unconditionally. I can’t imagine life without a dog. Appreciate your pets and train your dogs to behave! Most important of all, monitor your dog when children are around. No one wants to see anyone suffer from a dog bite!