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Week aims to take a bite out of bites

What do children, the elderly and postal workers have in common?

They are the most frequent victims of the estimated 4.7 million dog bites that occur a year — about  386,000 of which require a trip to the emergency room, and 16 of which prove fatal.

If you haven’t already figured it out, it’s National Dog Bite Prevention Week — time to roll out the sobering statistics, and make the point that, with nothing more than education and common sense, those numbers could be reduced dramatically.

Perhaps the most effective way to do so is by educating children — or educating parents to educate their children — on how to behave around dogs.

“Approximately half of the 800,000 Americans who receive medical attention for dog bites each year are children. And when a dog bites a child, the victim’s small size makes the bite more likely to result in a severe injury,” says Dr. James O. Cook, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Statistically, children ages 5 to 9 years old are at the highest risk of being bitten followed by adult males.

While many people are under the impression that certain breeds are more likely to bite, the American Veterinary Medical Association says there’s little scientific evidence to support that claim.

Here are some tips on preventing dog bites, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Do not approach an unfamiliar dog.
  • Do not run from a dog and scream.
  • Remain motionless when approached by an unfamiliar dog.
  • If knocked over by a dog, roll into a ball and lie still.
  • Do not play with a dog unless supervised by an adult.
  • Immediately report stray dogs or dogs displaying unusual behavior to an adult.
  • Avoid direct eye contact with a dog.
  • Do not disturb a dog who is sleeping, eating, or caring for puppies.
  • Do not pet a dog without allowing it to see and sniff you first.
  • If bitten, immediately report the bite to an adult.
  • Comments

    Comment from Marie
    Time May 18, 2009 at 9:34 am

    Karma Dogs has a dog safety coloring book that features many of the Karma Dogs, including Ace, to help kids stay safe! You can check it out online at

    Comment from Clay
    Time May 18, 2009 at 9:55 am

    Never hurts to educate but an update on the number 4.7 million estimate
    [quote]…There is no national system in the United States for tallying reports of dog bites. The often-repeated numbers that inspired some to declare a dog bite “epidemic” were estimated on the basis of a telephone survey conducted in 1994. From among the 5,328 persons who responded to this survey, interviewers obtained reports of 196 dog bites within the previous 12 months. (Only 38 of those sought medical attention).*…

    Alarmists quote the numbers extrapolated from this 14-year-old telephone survey as evidence that dogs are a growing threat.

    However, communities across the country report the good, less publicized news that actual (not estimated) reports of dog bites are decreasing, and have been for years.[/quote]

    And both the CDC and AVMA have released statements re the belief that some people have that some dogs are more likely to bite.



    Maryland Info

    Too bad education wouldn`t occur year round instead of just 1 week a year.
    That would reduce bites even further.

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