National Dog Bite Prevention Week is April 11 – 17, and now is a great time to share some tips with our community to keep you and your children safe around unfamiliar dogs. Just like fire and hurricane safety is practiced and preached to children, so should safety tips around animals.
According to the American Veterinarian Medical Association, more than 800,000 Americans must seek medical attention for dog bites each year; half of them children. The extended daylight hours, warmer weather and summer vacation encourages our community to enjoy more time outdoors. It is during this time of year we see an uptick in bite cases.
We encourage parents to review dog safety tips with their children as summer vacation approaches. Any dog can bite: big or small, male or female, young or old. Even the cuddliest, fuzziest, sweetest pet can bite if provoked. Teaching children at a young age to be polite, respect a dog’s personal space and what to do when approached by an unfamiliar dog can help save their life. Due to a child’s size and natural flight instincts, they are the most likely to suffer major injuries if attacked by a dog. Never leave a child alone with a dog and be sure to keep an eye on children playing outside in the neighborhood.
If you are approached by an unfamiliar dog, take the following precautions:
Do not run, climb on top of or hide under a near object – dogs are faster than humans and can climb. Instead, stand still like a tree or curl-up in a ball like a rock if you fall.
Do not make eye contact with the dog but keep your peripheral vision.
Do not scream – be very quiet and move away slowly.
Remain on your feet if possible. If you do fall to the ground, curl-up in a ball and cover your face and neck.
Try to put an object between you and the dog such as a purse, trash can or tree branch.
By educating and practicing safe interactions with animals our community can remain as safe as possible. Most dog bites can be prevented, but if a dog bite does occur seek medical attention if needed and call 9-1-1 immediately.
While teaching children to respect dogs and approach them appropriately, training pets and providing them appropriate socialization skills as also vital in reducing negative interactions with people.