Paws for thought
Presented by Lincoln County Humane Society
Preventing a Dog Bite
Anyone who has ever been injured by a biting dog knows the experience is scary and painful. Dog bites can be devastating physically, even resulting in lifelong physical ailments or death. All too often, dogs bite in circumstances that could have been easily prevented. For public safety, a dog that has bitten may be impounded by the police or the owner may even be forced to euthanize the dog, depending on the severity of the bite and if the dog has a history of biting. By teaching your children, keeping your own dog safe, and educating yourself, the trauma of dog bites can often be prevented.
The Center for Disease Control reports almost 5 million people are bitten by dogs annually nationwide. Of those, more than 300,000 require immediate medical treatment. Sixteen people still die from their injuries. Children between 5 and 9 years are the most likely to be bitten by a dog. It is very important to teach children the proper way to behave around dogs.
Children should be told (with the information being reviewed frequently to help remind kids how to be safe):
1. Don’t approach a dog you don’t know
2. Never run from a dog or scream around one
3. Be “still like a tree” with your arms at your sides when a new dog comes near you
4. If a dog knocks you over, roll into a ball and stay still
5. Never, ever tease or be mean to a dog – you are asking to get bit if you do
6. Always tell adults when a dog comes near you without its owner
7. Don’t “stare down” a dog
8. Leave dogs who are eating, caring for puppies, or sleeping alone
9. Always let a dog sniff you before you try to pet it
10. Don’t reach for the dog’s face when trying to pet it
11. If a dog is chained outside or in a fence, leave it alone
12. If you do get bit, don’t be embarrassed and tell an adult right away
Prevent your own pet from biting
•Keep your pet safe and indoors – A study by the Center for Disease Control found that dogs who live their entire lives outdoors, on chains are 2.8 times more likely to bite. Chained dogs are also at more risk of being teased or harmed by people outside of your family which can make them more likely to bite in self-defense. Chaining your dog can often lead to more aggressive behaviors because of the lack of socialization, risk from passersby, and boredom. According to Karen Delise, author of Fatal Dog Attacks, 25% of fatal dog attacks between 1965 and 2001 were inflicted by chained dogs.
•Spay or Neuter Your Pet – According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, spaying or neutering your pet will not reduce protective tendencies but it will reduce aggressive impulses. That means that a spayed or neutered pet won’t lose the instinct to protect its family but will be less likely to bite unexpectedly due to the increased number of hormones in its system.
•Keep Your Pet Healthy – Make sure your pets are always up to date on their rabies vaccines. In case a bite does occur, a current rabies vaccine will reduce the cost and complications of a bite situation and greatly decrease the chances that the dog (or cat) would need to be quarantined at an animal control facility. A rabies vaccine is usually quite cheap but must be administered by a licensed veterinarian.
•Work with Experts – If your dog does have aggressive tendencies, don’t wait until it’s too late to get help. Contact local dog trainers and canine behavioralists that can work with you to reduce aggressive behaviors and prevent a terrible incident from occurring. Never train your dog to be mean to make it more protective, unfortunately it is rarely burglars (and more often neighborhood children) that are bit by the dogs of people who deliberately make dogs more aggressive. By working to educate your children, taking precautionary steps, and keeping your own pets safe and healthy the amount of dog bites can be greatly reduced. This will help to protect our pets and our community.