Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Do you know how to prevent a dog bite – Part 1

Did you know…
….around 5 million Americans are bitten every year by a dog and 83% are children?
….50% of all U.S. children will be bitten by a dog before their 12th birthday?
….Each year 800,000 bite injuries are severe enough to require medical attention?
….If you Google “Riverside dog bite prevention” you will get pages of attorneys and law offices ready to sue for dog bite injuries?

Whether you own a dog or not, these statistics affect you in one way or another. They also point out one major problem in the U.S. and it is a lack of dog bite prevention education and responsible dog ownership.

To raise awareness for this perpetual public health problem, the U.S. Postal Service and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) joined forces along with other organizations to promote National Dog Bite Prevention Week during the third week of May each year.  And although this week has brought about an increase in awareness, there are still dog bites happening every day, which only demonstrate the need for greater awareness and education efforts nationwide.

The beginning of your basic education must first start with some sort of understanding of dogs.

“Even the gentlest dog, if it is physically or mentally unhealthy, is in pain, feels threatened, or is protecting its food or a favorite toy, can bite,” Dr. Gail C. Golab, director of the AVMA’s Animal Welfare Division said. “Not only is it important to understand how dogs behave, it is important to understand how our behavior may be interpreted by a dog. To prevent dog bites, we need to find a common language. Finding that common language is the focus of effective dog bite prevention educational efforts.”

A great tool for children, and adults alike, is this educational video produced by the AKC to help kids avoid being bitten by a dog.  I highly recommend all parents watch this video with their kids and encourage your schools to show the video to each class as well. Education has to start with children not only to stop kids for getting bitten but to plant a seed for future responsible pet owners that will break the cycle. Check out the AKC website to view the video or to order a free copy for your school or community group. They also provide a workbook for kids to go over after the video to ensure they understood what they learned.  

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