In honor of National Dog Bite Prevention Week this week, it’s a good time to learn about the reasons dogs bite in order to prevent it from happening.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, there are more than 70 million “nice dogs” in the United States, but any dog can bite. Each year, more than 4.5 million people in the United States are bitten by dogs, and nearly 20 percent of those bites require medical attention.
The association has designated the third full week in May each year as a time to educate people about the risk of dog bites in the hopes that more awareness will help prevent them.
Children are the most common victims of dog bites, and most of those bites happen during everyday activities with familiar dogs.
Seniors and postal workers are also at risk. Seattle ranked second in the nation last year on a U.S. Postal Service list of cities where the most postal workers have been attacked by dogs, tying with San Antonio at 42 attacks each. (Fortunately, Portland didn’t make the list this time).
Dogs often bite because they feel threatened or afraid. Knowing how to read a dog’s emotional state can help protect you from being attacked.
This week is National Dog Bite Prevention Week, designated on the third full week of May each year to promote awareness and prevention of dog bites.
“Understanding how dogs behave and how to behave around dogs could save countless people from the serious physical and emotional consequences of a dog bite,” says AVMA president Dr. Douglas Aspros.
Consequences can be financial, too: Dog attacks can take a big bite out of your pocketbook. Potential lawsuits resulting from bites can be very expensive, as evidenced by the Washington woman recently awarded $75,000 by a jury after being bitten by her neighbor’s dog.
The AVMA offers these tips to help prevent dog bites:
- Don’t run past a dog. They’re inclined to chase and catch.
- Don’t ever disturb a dog that’s caring for puppies or is eating or sleeping.
- If a dog comes up to you to sniff you, remain still. It will usually go away once it realizes that you’re not a threat.
- If you’re uncomfortable around a dog, stay calm – don’t yell or scream. If you do say anything, make sure to speak with a calm, firm tone and avoid eye contact. Stay still until the dog leaves or back away slowly. Don’t run away.
- If you fall down, curl yourself into a ball and put your hands over your head and neck, making sure to protect your face.