Via PRNewswire - Every year more than 4.5 million Americans, more than half of them children, are bitten by dogs. As part of the National Dog Bite Prevention Week coalition, American Humane Association encourages adults to teach children how to avoid dog bites and learn the importance of pet owner responsibility.
"For thousands of years, dogs have been our best friends, providing love, comfort and protection," says Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of American Humane Association. "In turn, we must be their best friends and protect all those around us – ourselves, our children, and our dogs – from the dangers and consequences of dog bites through good prevention strategies."
"The majority of emergency room treatments for dog bites involve children," says Dr. Kwane Stewart, chief veterinary officer at American Humane Association. "Studies have also shown that the greatest percentage of dog-bite fatalities occurred among children and unsupervised newborns."
Dogs can bite for many reasons, including improper care and/or a lack of socialization. All dogs, even well-trained gentle dogs, are capable of biting when provoked, especially when eating, sleeping or caring for puppies. Thus, even when a bite is superficial or classified as "provoked," dogs may be abandoned or euthanized. Therefore, it's vitally important to keep both children and dogs safe by preventing dog bites wherever possible.
To reduce the number of injuries to people and the risk of relinquishment of dogs that bite, American Humane Association offers the following suggestions:
- Never approach an unknown dog or a dog that is alone without an owner, and always ask for permission before petting the dog.
- Never approach an injured animal – find an adult who can get the help it needs
- Never approach a dog that is eating, sleeping or nursing puppies.
- Don't poke, hit, pull, pinch or tease a dog.
For Dog Owners:
- Never leave a baby or small child alone with a dog, even if it is a family pet.
- Interactions between children and dogs should always be monitored to ensure the safety of both your child and your dog.
- Teach your children to treat the dog with respect and not to engage in rough or aggressive play.
- Make sure your pet is socialized as a young puppy so it feels at ease around people and other animals.
- Never put your dog in a position where it feels threatened.
- Walk and exercise your dog regularly to keep it healthy and to provide mental stimulation.
- Use a leash in public to ensure you are able to control your dog.
- Regular veterinary care is essential to maintain your dog's health; a sick or injured dog is more likely to bite.
- Be alert, if someone approaches you and your dog - caution them to wait before petting the dog, give your pet time to be comfortable with a stranger.
American Humane Association also offers a free online booklet available for families with children called “Pet Meets Baby," providing valuable information on introducing a new child to a home with a pet – or a new pet into a home with a child.
For more information on National Dog Bite Prevention Week, visit http://bit.ly/1JnFBfD