WASHINGTON, May 14, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Every year more than 4.5 million Americans, more than half of them children, are bitten by dogs. As part of the National Dog Bite Prevention Week® (May 17-23, 2015) coalition, American Humane Association, the nation’s first national humane organization and the only one dedicated to protecting the welfare of animals and children, encourages adults to teach children how to avoid dog bites and learn the importance of pet owner responsibility.
“For thousands of years, dogs have been our best friends, providing love, comfort and protection,” says Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of American Humane Association. “In turn, we must be their best friends and protect all those around us – ourselves, our children, and our dogs – from the dangers and consequences of dog bites through good prevention strategies.”
“The majority of emergency room treatments for dog bites involve children,” says Dr. Kwane Stewart, chief veterinary officer at American Humane Association. “Studies have also shown that the greatest percentage of dog-bite fatalities occurred among children and unsupervised newborns.”
Dogs can bite for many reasons, including improper care and/or a lack of socialization. All dogs, even well trained gentle dogs, are capable of biting however when provoked, especially when eating, sleeping or caring for puppies. Thus, even when a bite is superficial or classified as “provoked,” dogs may be abandoned or euthanized. Therefore, it’s vitally important to keep both children and dogs safe by preventing dog bites wherever possible.
To reduce the number of injuries to people and the risk of relinquishment of dogs that bite, American Humane Association offers the following suggestions:
- Never approach an unknown dog or a dog that is alone without an owner, and always ask for permission before petting the dog.
- Never approach an injured animal – find an adult who can get the help s/he needs
- Never approach a dog that is eating, sleeping or nursing puppies.
- Don’t poke, hit, pull, pinch or tease a dog.
For Dog Owners:
- Never leave a baby or small child alone with a dog, even if it is a family pet.
- Interactions between children and dogs should always be monitored to ensure the safety of both your child and your dog.
- Teach your children to treat the dog with respect and not to engage in rough or aggressive play.
- Make sure your pet is socialized as a young puppy so it feels at ease around people and other animals.
- Never put your dog in a position where s/he feels threatened.
- Walk and exercise your dog regularly to keep him/her healthy and to provide mental stimulation.
- Use a leash in public to ensure you are able to control your dog.
- Regular veterinary care is essential to maintain your dog’s health; a sick or injured dog is more likely to bite.
- Be alert, if someone approaches you and your dog – caution them to wait before petting the dog, give your pet time to be comfortable with a stranger.
American Humane Association also offers a free online booklet available for families with children called “Pet Meets Baby,” providing valuable information on introducing a new child to a home with a pet – or a new pet into a home with a child: http://www.americanhumane.org/interaction/programs/humane-education/pet-meets-baby.html.
Consider these statistics and tips provided by National Dog Bite Prevention Week® Coalition members:
- The American Veterinary Medical Association says that after children, senior citizens are the second most common dog bite victims. During National Dog Bite Prevention Week®, the AVMA highlights the most recent findings in the veterinary behavior field, introduces new educational programs for pet owners of all ages and joins with its coalition partners in urging public to respect and better understand a dog’s behavior and urge dog owner’s to provide a safe, happy environment for both people and dogs. They have provided much useful information at this link.
- In 2013, State Farm paid nearly $115 million as a result of 3,500 dog-related injury claims. Over the past five years, the insurer has paid $528 million for claims resulting from accidents involving a dog.
- Prevent The Bite did a survey of 710 children on 12 key things to do and not to do in various situations with dogs. Not a single child answered all twelve correctly. Here are the top five results:
- If a dog is chasing you, should you try to run away? Just 53% knew the answer was No.
- Are there only certain breeds (or types) of dogs that bite? Only 47% knew the answer was No.
- Does an angry dog ever wag his tail? 33% knew the correct answer was Yes.
- Is a dog that is afraid as dangerous as an angry dog? Only 27% knew the answer was Yes.
- Do dogs like to be kissed and hugged? A dangerously low number, only 24%, were correct – NO!
- The Insurance Information Institute says dog bites accounted for more than one-third of all homeowners insurance liability claim dollars paid out in 2014, costing in excess of $530 million.
- According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons there was a 6 percent increase in reconstructive procedures to repair injuries from dog bites over the past year. American Society for Reconstructive Microsurgery President Gregory R. D. Evans, MD, FACS says, “Prevention of these serious injuries is an important responsibility of dog owners as well as parents. Injuries to the face and hands can be disfiguring or disabling and require prompt, expert medical attention.”
- The U.S. Postal Service reports that 5,767 postal employees were attacked by dogs in 2014 – up from 5,581 in 2013. Children, the elderly, and postal carriers are the most frequent victims of dog bites.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics says if you’re threatened by a dog, remain calm. Avoid eye contact. Stand still until the dog leaves or back away slowly. If you are knocked down, curl into a ball and protect your face with your hands. If a dog bites your child, clean small wounds with soap and water and seek medical attention for larger wounds. Contact the dog’s veterinarian to check vaccination records
About American Humane Association
American Humane Association is the country’s first national humane organization and the only one dedicated to protecting both children and animals. Since 1877, American Humane Association has been at the forefront of virtually every major advance in protecting our most vulnerable from cruelty, abuse and neglect. Today we’re also leading the way in understanding the human-animal bond and its role in therapy, medicine and society. American Humane Association reaches millions of people every day through groundbreaking research, education, training and services that span a wide network of organizations, agencies and businesses. You can help make a difference, too. Visit American Humane Association at www.americanhumane.org today.