In the United States last year, almost 5 million people were bitten by dogs, and almost one million of them (one-half of those are children) needed medical attention. The U.S. Postal Service reports that around 2,500 mail carriers are included in those statistics. The American Veterinary Medical Association is teaming up with the U.S. Postal Service and American Academy of Pediatrics to sponsor the 17th annual National Dog Bite Prevention Week, in hopes of educating the public on how best to prevent dog bites.
A dog’s mouth can deliver from 150 to 450 pounds of pressure. Imagine if the mouth with its strong sharp teeth is latched on your arm or your leg. A dog’s bite can cause deep punctures and big lacerations. It can also cause broken bones and may damage the muscles and the tendons. Naturally, these kinds of wounds would bleed profusely. That is why it is so important to understand the importance of preventing dog bites.
Here are some interesting facts from experts that will help us understand the nature of dogs, and what may cause them to bite, particularly, a child.
• Children are dog height, and may be loud and unpredictable. When a child screams and runs, it may seem like prey to a dog.
• If dogs are not socialized around children, they are often less tolerant and can be caught off guard by their behaviors.
• Dogs have some degree of tolerance, but may reach their threshold of patience quickly.
• Human behaviors that children may do around dogs, i.e., hug, kiss, and make eye contact are offensive to dogs, especially if they do not know the child.
• Signs of discomfort by a dog are: turning away, yawning, licking their lips, ears back, hair bristled up, then a growl or snap.
Here are some basic safety tips to teach and review with your children often. It’s good advice for adults, as well:
• Do not scream or run from a dog.
• Do not approach an unfamiliar dog.
• Do not approach a dog that is alone in a fence, car, or on a chain.
• Do not play with a dog unless supervised by an adult.
• Avoid direct eye contact with a dog.
• Do not bother a dog that is eating, sleeping, or taking care of puppies.
• Do not pet a dog without allowing it to see and sniff you first.
• Remain motionless (e.g., “be still like a tree”) when approached by an unfamiliar dog.
• If knocked over by a dog, roll into a ball and lie still (e.g., “be still like a log”).
• Try to throw a jacket, purse, or anything to distract him from you in the event of being attacked.
During this spring season, many animals have been separated from their families because of tornadoes and floods. Good people in other parts of the country have taken many animals into their shelters and are trying to find their owners or new homes for them. As disaster relief personnel work as first responders to rescue animals, they must work under a designated animal control officer when possible. Some dogs may bite simply because they are confused and frightened. Rescuers should recognize warning signs that the animal may attack and use restraints, humane traps, or sedation if appropriate. Thanks to the wonderful volunteers and professionals who have responded to the needs of the citizens of areas that have been hit, and to the kindness shown to innocent animals that have lost their homes and many times, families, as well.
There are around 67 million great dogs out there! It’s up to owners to teach them how to socialize, to see that they are spayed or neutered, and keep their shots current. They make wonderful companions, and love their owners unconditionally. I can’t imagine life without a dog. Appreciate your pets and teach your dogs to not bite! Most important of all, monitor your dog when children are around. No one wants to see anyone suffer from a dog bite!
And, have a first aid kit handy for all emergencies.