We are a hair behind, but last week was National Dog Bite Prevention Week. Our new website (we hope you like it and it's easier to navigate!) gave us a hiccup, but we want you to have the facts because dog bites are a big issue in America, especially for our young and elderly populations!
There are approximately 70 Million dogs in The United States and each year there are approximately 4.5 million reported dog bites. 1 in 5 of these needs medical attention and children and elderly are extremely over-represented. In 2014 dog bites were the 11th most common non-fatal injury to children ages 1-4, and 9th in kids aged 5-9. The American Humane Association reports that 66% of bites to children are to the head and neck.
The fact is this: absolutely any dog can bite. We hear it all the time, and I even say it of Watch, my dog, who is absolutely wonderful and was raised from 7 weeks in a home with a 2 and 6 year old, but ANY dog put into certain circumstances can bite. There are reason that kids are so over-represented as dog bite victims. One is that they are usually in the dogs face, literally, from a size perspective. They have no concern for personal space or boundaries and will pinch, pull and grab. Young kids are also clumsy and trip and fall on pets.
It is important to recognize the body language of your dog, and to be aware that it is YOUR responsibility to keep the kids away from the dog and respect the dogs' space and body language. Leaving a child of any age around pets unsupervised is never recommended. Also, it goes without saying that some dogs are more aggressive and/or antisocial and nobody should allow their children around such a pet.
There are numerous videos on the www depicting kids "cuddling" with their dogs. These videos often make us cringe as we recognize dogs that are tense, wide-eyed, with jerky movements and or "smiling" or nervously panting and we see a bite waiting to happen! These dogs aren't relaxed and happy, they are anxious, nervous and if elderly or have a medical condition, potentially painful and/or uncomfortable.
We hope we have given you some useful information about Dog Bite awareness and prevention. For more information please visit: https://www.avma.org/public/Pages/Dog-Bite-Prevention.aspx