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Preventing Dog Bites

Q. How many dog bites occur every year in the U.S?

A. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia, estimates that more than 4.7 million people are bit- ­


Q. Which dogs most commonly bite? Are some breeds more likely to bite than others?

A. The list of top biling dogs changes every year and from one area of the country to another. Factors such as whether the dog is spayed/neutered, properly socialized, super­vised, humanely trained, and safely confined playa Significantly greater role than the dog's breed.


Q. Is there any way I can "bite-proof' my dog?

A. There are no guarantees, but the following can reduce the risks:


  • Spay or neuter your dog. This reduces aggressive tendencies and the desire to r0am. Spaying or neutering will not reduce your dog's desire to protect you or your home: -Socialize your dog. Introduce your dog to many different types of people and situations so that he or she is not nervous or frightened under normal sodaldr cumstances. -Train your dog. Accompanying your dog to a training c1ass is an excellent way to socialize him and to learn proper training techniques. Training your dog is a family matter - every member of your household should learn the training techniques and participate in your dog's education. Never "send away" your dog to be trained; only you can teach your dog how to behave in your home. ­­­

  • Teach your dog appropriate behavior. Don't play aggressive games with your dog such as wrestling, tug-of-war, or "sicdng" your dog on another person. Set appropriate limits for your dog's behavior. If he exhibits aggressive behavior toward any person, particularly toward children, seek professional help from your veterinarian, who may refer you to an animal behaviorist or a dog trainer. Aggression toward other animals may eventually lead to aggression toward people, and is also a reason to seek pro­fessional help. ­­­

  • Be a responsible pet owner. License your dog as required by law, and provide regular veterinary care, including rabies vaccinations. For everyone's safety, don't allow your dog to roam. Make your dog a member of your family ­dogs who spend a great deal of time alone in the backyard or tied out on a chain usually develop behavior problems such as aggression. Dogs who are well-socialized and supervised rarely bite. ­

  • Err on the safe side. If you don't know how your dog will react to a new situation, be cautious. If your dog may panic in crowds, leave him at home. If you dog over reacts to visitors, delivery persons, or service personnel, keep him in another room. Help your dog become accustomed to a variety of situations. Until you are confident of his behavior, however, avoid stressful settings.­


Q. What should I do if my dog bites someone?

A.  Confine your dog immediately and check on the victim's condition. If necessary, seek med­ical help.

  • Provide the victim with important information such as the date of your dog's last rabies vaccination. ­

  • Cooperate with the animal control official responsible for acquiring information about your dog. If your dog must be quarantined for any length of time, ask whether he may be confined within your home or at your veterinarian's hospital. Strictly follow quarantine requirements for your dog. ­

  • Seek professional help to prevent your dog from biting again. Consult with your veterinarian, who may refer you to an animal behaviorist or a dog trainer. Your community animal care and control agency or humane society may also offer helpful services. ­

  • If your dog's aggression cannot be controlled, do not give him to someone else without care­fully evaluating their ability to protect him and prevent him from biting. Because you know your dog is dangerous, you may be held liable for any damage he does even when he is given to someone else.

  • Don't give your dog to someone who wants an aggressive dog: "mean" dogs are often forced to live miserable, isolated lives, and become even more likely to attack someone in the future. If you must give up your dog due to aggression, consult your veterinarian and your local humane society about your options.


Q. How can I avoid being bitten by a dog?

A.  Never approach a strange dog, especially one who is tied or confined behind a fence or in a car.

  • Don't pet a dog, even your own, without letting him see and sniff you first.

  • Never turn your back to a dog and run away. A dog's natural instinct is 10 chase and catch Dee­ing prey.

  • Don't disturb a dog while she's sleeping, eat­ing, chewing on a toy, or caring for puppies.

  • Be cautious around strange dogs. Always assume that a dog who doesn't know you may see you as an intruder or as a threat.


Q.  What should I do if Ithink a dog may attack?

A.  If you are approached by a dog who may attack you, follow these steps:

  • Never scream and run. Remain motionless, hands at your sides, and avoid eye contact with the dog.

  • If the dog does attack, "feed" him your jacket, purse, or anything that you can put between yourself and the dog.

  • lf you fall or are knocked to the ground, curl into a ball with your hands over your ears and remain motionless. Try not to scream or roll around.


Q.  What should I do if I am bitten by a dog?

A.  Try not to panic

  • lmmediately wash the wound thoroughly with soap and warm water.

  • Contact your physician for additional care and advice.

  • Report the bite to your local animal care and control agency. Tell the animal control official everything you know about the dog, including the owner's name and address. If the dog is a stray, describe the animal and where you saw him, if you have seen him before and in which direction he left.


Q.  Can children he taught to avoid being bit­ten?

A.  Yes. Teach your children not to chase or tease dogs they know and to avoid dogs they don't know. Many helpful books, videotapes and games are available from The Humane Society of the U.S., as well as from local shelters and sodelies.


Q.  Are the Metroplex Humane Societies affiliated with the HSUS? ­

A.  No. The HSUS with over 4.4 million members, is not legally affilitated with local animal care and control agendas, humane societies or SPCAs. However, the HSUS publishes guidelines and recommendations for their operation and offers guidance and training to animal care and control personnel. The HSUS and local organi­zations work hand-in-hand on important animal protection issues in your community.


The Humane Society of the United States, 2/00 l Street NW, Washington, DC 20037.202­452-IIOO

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