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.
Photo credit: John Carleton