Taking A Bite Out of Summer
With the kickoff of summer, comes increased incidents of dog bites. Take steps to avoid the bite
Who knows more about being bitten by dogs than U.S. Postal carriers? They walk the streets practically every day, and last year nearly 5,600 of them reported being bitten by dogs. Unfortunately, that number pales in comparison to the staggering number of 2 million children that were bitten last year.
That's why the USPS has declared the week leading up to Memorial Day as National Dog Bite Prevention Week. With the warm summer weather, and the end of school just on the horizon, the frequency of dog bite reports is on the rise. While Virginia does not appear on the list of Top 25 Dog Bite Rankings, Washington, D.C. was tied for 23rd place.
Here are some eye opening stats:
- 4.7 million people in this country are bitten by dogs 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 and while interacting with familiar dogs
- Senior citizens are the second most common dog bite victims
There are simple steps you can take to avoid becoming a statistic, ranging from properly training and socializing your pet to educating your children on how to properly approach a dog:
- Don't put your dog in a position where it feels threatened or teased.
- Train your dog. The basic commands "sit," "stay," "no," and "come" help dogs understand what is expected of them.
- Walk and execrcise your dog regularly to help it relieve excess energy, anxiety or stress.
- Avoid highly excitable games like wrestling or tug-of-war.
- Use a leash in public to ensure you are able to control your dog.
- Have your dog vaccinated against rabies and preventable infectious diseases. Parasite control and other health care are important because how your dog feels affects how it behaves.
- Neuter your pet.
- If you have a fenced yard, make sure the gates are secure.
- Teach your children to be careful around pets. Children must learn not to approach strange dogs or try to pet dogs through fences.
One of the most important rules of all to teach kids is to ask permission from the dog's owner before petting the dog. I am always impressed when I am out walking my dogs and a young child approaches me and asks politely if it is OK to pet my dogs. And as friendly as my pups can be, if they are acting overly excited or are in the presence of a strange dog, I tell the kids that its best they DON'T pat them right now. I definitely don't want to take that chance!
From a liability standpoint, there are laws governing dog bites, and you don't want to be on the wrong end of those laws. The name "One Bite Rule" is not exactly accurate because a "bite" is not necessarily required. Your best protection against being sued is to avoid an incident in the first place.
So, get out there and enjoy the summer — safely!