Dog Bite Prevention Week highlights widespread problem

Dog bites are a big problem in this country. Approximately 4.7 million people suffer from a dog attack annually in the U.S., with small children between the ages of 5 and 9 as the most frequent victims. This week is Dog Bite Prevention Week.

One animal doctor recently related how she was bitten not by one of her canine patients, as one might expect, but rather by a neighbor’s dog in her own apartment building.

While the dog was leashed as it exited an elevator, the dog’s owner did not have a firm grip, so the dog lunged forward and bit the woman’s arm without any provocation. In this case, luckily, the dog had previously received the required vaccination for rabies, and the injuries suffered were relatively minor.

A friends of hers was bitten on her hand the same day by a different dog, and wasn’t so lucky. Since the dog and its owner vanished after that attack, the woman had to undergo a series of rabies shots as a precaution.

Children should be taught to be cautious when interacting with dogs, especially ones they don’t know. Everyone should request permission from a dog’s owner before attempting to pet it. If a dog is jumping up on or rushing towards a person, they should stand still and not make sudden movements which the animal could misconstrue as being aggressive.

In addition, dog owners should make sure that their pet’s rabies shots are current and that they have a copy of the vaccination certificate available in case something happens.

Even following these recommendations, dog bites can still happen. If you encounter an unknown dog, especially with a child around, sometimes it’s best to avoid it altogether.

Source: Web MD, “Dog bites happen to everyone, even me!” Ann Hohenhaus, May 11, 2012