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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Third Week In May Is National Dog Bite Prevention Week, Tips For Keeping Your Family Safe

The third week in May is National Dog Bite Prevention Week. Dog may be man’s best friend but dog also accounts for $109 million being paid out on 3,800 bite claims last year by State Farm Insurance. It was estimated by the Insurance Information Institute that approximately $479 million was paid by all insurance companies in dog bite claims.

California, home to more dogs and people than any other state topped the list in 2011.

Research done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claim that nationally, approximately 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs every year and more than half of those are children. Of the 800,000 people that seek medical attention, only 50% actually require treatment. Each year, roughly 16 people die from dog bites.

Seniors represent the largest group at risk for dog bites after children ages 5 to 9 years old. Letter carriers come in third within that group.

In the United States, 5,600 U.S. Postal Service letter carriers were bitten by dogs each year for the last two years. In California, a letter carrier was attacked and died just four days later after suffering a stroke which was likely brought on by the dog bite trauma. Despite the substantial number of attacks on letter carriers, the Postal Service has elected to focus on preventing dog bites in children since they are 900 times more likely to be bitten than a letter carrier.

It is predicted by the ASPCA that half of all children in the U.S. will be bitten by a dog before the age of 12 and most of the bites will be from the family dog or a friends dog. The good news is that dog bites can be prevented. There are appropriate ways for a child, or anyone for that matter, to meet a dog and these tips may help prevent a future dog bite.
  • Avoid playing aggressive games with your own dog. 
  • Teach submissive behavior. Your dog should be trained from an early age to give up food or a toy without growling or biting. An example of submissive behavior is having your dog lie on his back and expose his stomach on command. If your dog knows that you’re in charge, you may be able to stop any unwanted or dangerous behavior. 
  • ALWAYS spay or neuter your dog, this reduces aggression. 
  • NEVER leave your dog alone with babies or small children. 
  • Teach your child that “stranger danger” is not limited to people but this also includes dogs that they do not know. 
  • Do not run or scream if a strange dog approaches you; stand still and stay calm. Running could escalate the dog’s aggression. If a child is knocked down, they should roll up into a ball and stay still. 
  • If a child sees a stray dog or any dog, exhibiting strange behavior, they should tell an adult immediately. 
  • Everyone should exercise the “no touch, no talk, no eye contact” rule when meeting a dog for the first time. Let the dog come to you, sniff you, and submit to being petted. 
  • Let a sleeping dog lie. This goes for any dog, even your own. 
Hopefully these tips will help you and your family stay safe and prevent any future dog bites.

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