While looking for stories sometimes it seems there are a lot of articles about “killer” dog attacks. Usually the non-fatal attacks are never mentioned so when you see the sensationalized, and tragic cases, portrayed in the media it feels like they happen on an everyday occurrence.
However, when you start to look at statitical information you will see it isn’t as it appears.
In any given year in the United States, 12 to 16 people are bitten and killed in attacks by a dog or by multiple dogs, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC has been tracking dog bites since the 1970s, and officials say the numbers have not been increasing. Each year, about 800,000 people seek medical attention for dog bites, and 386,000 of them require treatment in a hospital emergency department, the CDC notes.
Nearly half of all dog-bite victims are children under the age of 12, with children ages 5 to 9 at greatest risk, the CDC reports.
According to experts it’s up to pet owners to take responsibility for proper training and restraint of their animals.
“There are very few public health crises that can truly be cured by public awareness and education, but dog bites are one of them,” according to the American Veterinary Medical Association Web site. The “suffering, injury, disability and mortality is completely unnecessary. It’s up to people, not dogs, to stop dog bites.”
“Dog owners need to learn how to make their dogs good citizens,” and that means training pets and teaching them to behave properly around people and other animals, Dr. Beaver said.
“The victims that are bitten most often are children. Children need to learn how to behave around dogs. And if parents would learn to never leave children unattended around dogs,” the number of dog bites would decrease dramatically, she said.
The CDC and American Veterinary Medical Association suggest when confronted by a hostile dog you should remain calm and avoid eye contact. Stand still or back away slowly until the dog leaves. If knocked down, curl into a ball and protect your face with your arms.
You can get more tips on dog safety at AVMA and the CDC. National Dog Bite Prevention Week takes place May 17-23, 2009.