National Dog Bite Prevention Week starts on Sunday. The American Veterinary Medical Association started designating a week to focus attention on dog bites and their prevention. Just how much of a problem is this in our country? 4.7 million Americans are bitten by dogs annually. According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than half of those are children. The Insurance Information Institute says dog bites accounted for more than one-third of all homeowners insurance liability claim dollars paid out in 2012 at nearly $500 million dollars. The number of claims filed last year actually decreased by 1.4 percent. Georgia ranks 9th in the US with 121 claims paid last year worth $3.3 million. The US Postal service says that nearly 5900 letter carriers were attacked by dogs last year. Atlanta doesn’t show up in the top 20 US cities for dog attacks on Postal Service Workers, but Los Angeles is number one with 69.
Whether or not a dog will bite has nothing to do with the breed. Any dog in any breed can bite. The friendliest Lab will turn aggressive if it’s chained to a pole and ignored all day. Socialization of your dog with people at an early age is very important. You should never leave a child alone with a dog. Make sure your kids know not to disturb a dog that is eating or sleeping. Avoid exposing your dog to people and situations that are unfamiliar to it so you don’t know how it will react. If you’re thinking about getting a dog, talk to a vet or an animal behaviorist about what breeds work best with your household situation. Do you have small children? Will the dog spend a lot of time alone? These things are important in ensuring that your dog will be less likely to attack someone.
Don’t be afraid to keep people, especially children away from your pet when you are walking them. A lot of times when our dog walkers are walking client dogs someone will come up and ask if they can pet the dog. VI tell the sitters to politely decline, telling them it’s not their dog and they are not sure how the dog will react. Sometimes children may get a little bolder approaching a dog on a leash, but since the dog is on a leash and out of its comfort zone, it may be more on edge and more likely to attack. The advice I give my sitters could work for you: Be aware of your surroundings and eliminate the potential for trouble before it happens. If you are walking your dog and there is a group of children or you see a dog off its leash, turn around or go a different way, so there won’t be any interaction.
Some of the links in this story have more tips to avoid dog bites. Be sure and check those out and check in on my Facebook and Google + pages to see things I’ll have posted all next week. Dogs are for fun and pleasure, but you must remember they are animals and you never know how they will react in strange situations. Stay safe and don’t wind up as a statistic!
Fetch! Pet Care provides pet sitting, dog walking and cat care services for Roswell, East Cobb, Marietta and Woodstock, GA. You can see the happy pets by following us on Pinterest at http://pinterest.com/fetchnwatlanta/