The Seattle Animal Shelter urges every family to recognize National Dog Bite Prevention Week, May 19-25, 2013. Approximately 70 million dogs live in U.S. households. The Centers for Disease Control estimates 4.5 million people – nearly 2 percent of the U.S. population – are bitten by dogs each year. More than 60 percent of dog-bite victims are children.
“Dog bites can cause serious injury to human victims, who are often children or elderly people,” says Shelter Director Don Jordan. “Dogs who bite often lose their homes and sometimes their lives. Every family who accepts the commitment that comes with bringing a dog into the home has a responsibility to neighbors, friends and children to prevent dog bites. And remember; don’t make assumptions about dogs based on their breed. Any size or kind of dog can bite.”
This is a good opportunity to remind to all dog owners that dogs must be on a leash when not on their property or in a designated off-leash dog park. Leashing your dog is not only the law, it also adds a measure of safety for your pet, other pets, people and wildlife. Off-leash dog fines start at $54 and go up to $168 for the fourth violation.
Shelter staff urge parents to teach their children the following tips for avoiding dog bites:
- Don’t disturb a dog that is sleeping, eating or caring for puppies.
- Stay away from dogs in cars, behind fences or on chains.
- Never pet a dog without the owner’s permission and don’t pet any dog without letting the dog see and smell you first.
- Don’t assume a dog you know is any less likely to bite than a stray or unknown dog. Most dog bites are inflicted by dogs known to the victim.
- If attacked by a dog, don’t run or scream. Stand still with your arms at your sides. Don’t make eye contact or speak to the dog. If you are knocked to the ground, curl into a ball and put your hands over your ears.
For more information on dog bite prevention, go to the following Humane Society of the United States website: www.nodogbites.org. For more information about Seattle’s dog bite prevention efforts, or to inquire about animal adoptions and volunteer programs at the Seattle Animal Shelter, please call 206-386-7387 (PETS) or visit www.seattleanimalshelter.org.