Who's being bitten?
Children make up more than 60 percent of all dog bite
victims. The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates half of all
children 12 and younger have been bitten by a dog. The elderly and home service people -
like mail carriers and meter readers -also are high on the list of frequent dog bite
What's a dog owner to do?
Carefully consider your pet selection. Before and after
selection, your veterinarian is the best source for information about behavior and
Make sure your pet is socialized as a young puppy, so it
feels at ease around people and other animals. Expose your puppy to a variety of
situations a little at a time and under controlled circumstances; continue that exposure
on a regular basis as your dog gets older. If you're not sure how your dog will react to a
large crowd or a busy street, be cautious. 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" can be incorporated into fun
activities, which build a bond of obedience and trust between pets and people. Don't play
aggressive games like wrestling or tug-of-war with your dog
Keep your dog healthy. Have your dog vaccinated against
rabies and preventable infectious diseases. Parasite control is important to how your dog
feels and behaves.
Neuter your pet. It's a fact: Neutered dogs are less
likely to bite. Be a responsible pet owner. License your dog with the community as
required. Obey leash laws. Dogs are social animals; spending time with your pet is
important. Dogs that are frequently left alone have a greater chance of developing
Be alert. Know your dog. You naturally would be alert to
signs of illness, but you must also watch for signs your dog is uncomfortable or feeling
How can my family and I avoid being bitten?
Be cautious around strange dogs and treat your own pet
with respect. Because children are the most frequent victims of dog bites, parents and
- NEVER leave a baby or small child alone with a dog.
- Be on the lookout for potentially dangerous situations.
- Start teaching young children - including toddlers - to be
careful around pets. Children must be taught NOT to approach strange dogs. Children should
be taught to ask permission from a dog's owner before petting the dog.
Other tips that may prevent or stop a dog attack:
- Don't run past a dog. Dogs naturally love to chase and
catch things. Don't give them a reason to become excited or aggressive.
- Never disturb a dog that's caring for puppies, sleeping or eating.
- If a dog approaches to sniff you -stay still. In most cases, the dog
will go away when it determines you're not a threat.
- If a dog threatens you, remain calm. Don't scream. If you
say anything, speak calmly and firmly. Avoid eye contact. Try to stay still until the dog
leaves, or back away slowly until the dog is out of sight. Don't turn and run.
- If you fall or are knocked to the ground, curl into a ball
with your hands over your head and neck. Protect your face.
What should I do if my dog bites someone?
Even if the bite can be explained (perhaps someone
stepped on the dog's tail), it's important to take responsibility for your dog's actions
by taking these steps:
- Restrain the dog immediately. Separate it from the scene
of the attack. Confine it.
- Check on the victim's condition. Wash wounds with soap and
water. Professional medical advice should be sought to evaluate the risk of rabies or
other infections. Call 911 if paramedic response is required.
- Provide the following
information to Animal Control as soon as possible: your name and address, and
information about your dog's most recent rabies vaccination. State health
laws require you to report a bite whether or not your dog is current on it's
rabies vaccination. The dog will be quarantined for 10 days and it's health
monitored. Quarantine often can be at your residence.
- Consult your veterinarian for advice about dog behavior that will
help prevent similar problems in the future.
IF YOU are the bite victim --treat wounds:
- If your own dog bit you, confine it immediately and call
Animal Control at 440-4328.
- If someone else's dog bit you, contact authorities and
tell them everything you can about the dog: the owner's name, if you know it; color of the
dog; size; where you saw it; if you've seen it before. These details may help Animal
Control Officers locate the dog.
Dogs are wonderful companions. By acting responsibly,
owners not only reduce the number of dog bites, but also enhance the relationships they
have with their dogs. To learn more about the joys and responsibilities of pet ownership,
contact your veterinarian or local veterinary association.