WASHINGTON, D.C. -- 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 19-25, 2013) Coalition, American Humane Association, the nation’s oldest and largest humanitarian organization 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.
“Dogs are very special friends to millions of children,” says Dr. Patricia Olson D.V.M. and Chief Veterinary Advisor for American Humane Association’s Animal Welfare and Research Institute. “Dogs are amazing and loyal friends and when dog bites are prevented, that very special friendship can be preserved. It’s important to keep both children and dogs safe through good dog bite prevention strategies”
Dogs can bite for many reasons, some occur due to miscommunication between people and dogs, while others occur due to fear or aggression. All dogs, even well trained gentle dogs, are capable of biting when provoked especially when eating, sleeping or caring for puppies.
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 it needs
- Never approach a dog that is eating, sleeping or nursing puppies.
- Don’t poke, hit, pull, pinch or tease a dog – he dog may not understand you’re just playing
For Dog Owners:
- Never leave a baby of 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 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 it feels threatened
- Walk and exercise your dog regularly to keep it healthy and 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 alarming statistics and information provided by National Dog Bite Prevention Week® Coalition members:
- In 2012, State Farm had 3,670 dog bite claims and paid more than $108 million as a result of dog bites. A dog's tendency to bite depends on such factors as heredity, obedience training, socialization, health, and the victim's behavior. There are good dogs and bad dogs within every breed, just as there can be responsible and irresponsible owners of each breed. That's why State Farm does not refuse insurance based on the breed of dog a customer owns. Under the right circumstances, any dog might bite.
- The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) estimates the U.S. dog population was approximately 70 million at the end of 2011, down from approximately 72 million in 2006, yet the number of dog bite incidents hasn't decreased.
- Prevent the Bite, a nonprofit organization devoted to dog bite prevention through education, reports that from 2001 - 2011, dog bites were the ninth leading cause of nonfatal unintentional injury to children 5-9 (512,638) and tenth for children 10-14 (412,895).
- The Insurance Information Institute (III) estimates that in 2012, insurers across the country paid nearly $489 million in dog bite claims.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) states that more than half of all dog bite victims are children; approximately 400,000 receive medical attention every year.
- The American Society for Reconstructive Microsurgery (ASRM) reports that there were 27,752 reconstructive procedures performed in 2012 to repair injuries caused by dog bites.
- The United States Postal Service® (USPS) reports that 5,879 postal carriers were bitten or attacked by dogs in 2012.
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.