Dog bite cases on the rise in southwest Florida

They’re man’s best friend. But they’re still animals.

Southwest Florida has seen a rapid increase in the number of dog bites. According to the Lee County Health Department, dog bite injuries have increased by over three times in three years and the dogs that are biting are family pets.

According to sources, Lee County has recorded an average of 1,000 dog bites each year recently and officials say many of them could have been prevented. One woman, whose son was killed as a result of a dog bite, says that animal attacks can happen in as little as 1/40th of a second.

Animal experts say dog owners can be too lax with children around pets. Health officials advise that animals require respect, something that young children don’t always know and parents frequently don’t encourage.

Officials add that letting children tease and wrestle with even the most happy-go-lucky pet can set up a dangerous situation. Experts warn that people going near a pet’s food can also turn a usually-calm dog into one more likely to bite.

According to sources, dog trainers suggest that parents always supervise children around pets and establish rules about how to deal with strange animals that may be encountered away from home. Animal experts recommend that no one should approach an unfamiliar or wild animal.

Animal experts say that if a dog appears as if it will attack, the best way to block a bite is to place something in between the person and the animal. Anything to fend off a bite such as bags and bicycles are recommended. Officials say that people who are knocked down should assume a ball-shaped position, cover the face and try not to move. Running or screaming can provoke a dog to bite.

Source: www.nbc-2.com, “Experts: Number of dog bites rising,” Paul Gessler, 18 May 2011