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It’s National Dog Bite Prevention Week

It’s National Dog Bite Prevention Week

Yesterday kicked off National Dog Bite Prevention Week, which will go from May 20-26 and is intended to raise awareness about the nearly 5 million dog bites that occur every year and help prevent these incidents from happening.

This year it’s being hosted by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), along with support from the United States Postal Service (USPS), physicians, the insurance industry and Victoria Stillwell from Animal Planet’s “It’s Me or the Dog” in offering tips to help prevent bites, according to the AVMA.

“Veterinarians recognize, while there are 72 million good dogs in the United States, any dog can bite if it is frightened or feels threatened, even the family pet. Unfortunately, children are most often the victims,” said Dr. Larry M. Kornegay, AVMA president.

The ASPCA predicts that 50 percent of children will be bitten before they turn 12-years-old.

According to the AVMA:

  • 4.7 million people in this country are bitten every year children are by far the most common victims
  • 800,000 Americans receive medical attention for dog bites each year
  • Children are far more likely to be severely injured; approximately 400,000 receive medical attention every year
  • Most dog bites affecting young children occur during everyday activities while interacting with familiar dogs
  • Senior citizens are the second most common dog bite victims

Dog bites are also financially costly and accounted for over one-third of all homeowners insurance liability claim dollars paid out last year, totaling almost $479 million, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.), which attributes problems with dangerous dogs to the ones who are the victims of poor training, irresponsible owners and breeding that fosters aggression.

The USPS, is also no stranger to dog bites. Last year, 5,577 postal employees were attacked in over 1,400 cities, according to a statement, which included a list of the top 25 cities for attacks that named Los Angeles, Calif., San Diego, Calif., and Houston, Texas as the top three cities with the most bites.

The AVMA is urging people to use caution around strange dogs and to be respectful of their own pets. Because children are the most common victims of dog bites, parents and caregivers should:

  • NEVER leave a baby or small child alone with a dog
  • Be alert for potentially dangerous situations
  • Teach their children including toddlers to be careful around pets. Children must learn not to approach strange dogs or try to pet dogs through fences. Teach children to ask permission from the dog’s owner before petting the dog

Learning a little bit about canine body language and the ways they use it to express themselves can go a long way in preventing an unfortunate mishap. A wagging tail doesn’t always mean a friendly dog and hackles don’t always mean aggression.

The AVMA and the USPS were also joined by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), the American Society of Maxillofacial Surgeons (ASMS), the American Society of Reconstructive Microsurgery (ASRM), Prevent The Bite and the Insurance Information Institute.

For more information and resources about the prevention of dog bites, visit the AVMA.

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Photo credit: John Carleton

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67 comments

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9:19AM PDT on Jun 14, 2012

Maybe I got too close for comfort to our dog and got bitten.

7:39PM PDT on May 30, 2012

I used to break up our dogs when they would fight, with my brother, but we have never been bitten. Scratched to hell, but never bitten.

8:02AM PDT on May 30, 2012

thanks for sharing

7:00PM PDT on May 25, 2012

I've never been bitten....but I probably should have by now. I don't always read a dog's body language before I approach.

5:51PM PDT on May 24, 2012

People need to learn how to read a dog's body language.

12:08AM PDT on May 23, 2012

when do we have a dont bite the dogs and other animals day? :D

1:24PM PDT on May 22, 2012

Train the people, they are the ones dogs learn from...

12:27PM PDT on May 22, 2012

I'll gladly celebrate this day when all humans know how to properly care for all animals!

9:31PM PDT on May 21, 2012

I have been bitten by dogs four times in my life. All four of these dogs had irresponsible owners who knew the dogs would bite and did nothing to stop it. Fortunately, my love for dogs kept me from being afraid of them. One of the dogs that bit me had all ready approached me in a friendly manner, let me pet her, then turned on me. It is not always the human's fault when they are bitten. Most dogs bite because they have been treated badly, and this becomes their method of self defense.

9:25PM PDT on May 21, 2012

Thanks

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Beth Buczynski Beth is a freelance writer and editor living in the Rocky Mountain West. So far, Beth has lived in... more
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