This week is National Dog Bite Prevention Week and it is designed to bring attention to the high incident rate of dog bites in the United States. The highest rate of dog bites in the U.S. is California, however Texas rates number one in postal carrier dog bites.
By now, we’ve all seen the dog attack on the young boy in California where the boy’s cat came to his rescue. Here is a link to the video if you haven’t seen it. Warning: the dog does attack the young boy, but he survives the attack and recovers. As you can see, this was a completely unprovoked attack.
A few Dog Bite Facts:
- Each year, more than four-and-a-half million people in the U.S. are bitten by dogs
- 20% of those attacked require medical attention (that’s about 900,000 people)
- Children are the most common victim and are often more severe than those attacks on adults.
- Most dog bites involving children occur while interacting with dogs the child knows
(source State Farm)
Many children become comfortable around dogs because they have dogs in their own home and often are unable to read the warning signs of dogs not in their home, such as a neighbor’s dog or a dog at a local playground. Unfortunately, children often assume all dogs are approachable because of the comfort level they have with their own pets. Children should be encouraged to learn boundaries with dogs, but especially with dogs that do not reside in their home.
So, what can you do to help avoid dog bites for you or your children?
- Avoid unknown dogs. If you (or your children) don’t know the dog that is wandering unsupervised, avoid him or her. If you are in a public area, such as a playground, consider leaving the area and contacting Animal Control (click here for a list of Animal Control facilities in the Pearland/Friendswood/Alvin area).
- When approaching a dog, ALWAYS ask the owner permission to pet the dog, BEFORE doing so. Wait for the owner to respond that it is indeed okay to pet their dog.
- Teach children to keep their volume at a lower level to avoid escalating a dog’s anxiety level; a dog’s anxiety level is generally already elevated in new or unusual surroundings, such as lots of other people or children in the area.
- Teach children to never tease a dog by taking his toy, food or treats, or pretending to hit or kick him.
- Never pull a dog’s ear or tail, teach children to never climb on, or try to ride a dog.
- When a dog is sleeping or eating, leave them along. If you must approach a sleeping dog, call the dog so that he wakes up before approaching. Dogs often bite instinctively, when surprised and dogs, like people, are sometimes confused when they are awakened from a deep sleep.
- Be cautions and pay attention to your surroundings
Don’t give children more responsibility with pets than they are able to handle. Always supervise and check on pet care responsibilities given to children to ensure they are being completed.
Regardless of how good your dog is around children, dogs are very protective by nature, particularly when it comes to food or toys.