May is national dog bite month. It’s tough to argue with the long-held notion that the dog truly is a man’s best friend. Study after study shows that pet owners are healthier, less stressed, tend to get more exercise and have more active social lives. Statistics show that 68 percent of American households have at least one dog or cat, and pet ownership is expected to grow by 2.2 percent each year through 2018 as the nation’s economy continues to recover. But dogs who are frightened, stressed, unrestrained or inadequately trained can act out by biting. In fact, dog bites are the third leading reason for visits to emergency rooms by children nationwide.
Results can include lacerations to the skin and muscles, broken bones, permanent disfiguration and serious infections including rabies – a deadly disease caused by a virus that attacks the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord). To help educate Americans about the risks and preventative measures associated with dog bites, veterinarians, animal and children’s advocates recognize the month of May as National Dog Bite Prevention Month. To that end, dog bite attorneys with Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell offer these tips for preventing dog bites:
- Be choosy when seeking a dog for a family pet. Look for one with a calm but playful temperament. Shelter workers typically perform temperament testing of dogs before making them available for adoption, so be sure to ask about results of those tests before committing to a particular pet;
- Stay away from any dogs you don’t know in public whether they’re running loose or accompanied by its owner;
- Never leave young children alone with a dog, especially an unfamiliar one;
- Teach your children to be quiet and calm when meeting a dog for the first time. Children often are bitten because their playful motions and sounds can be distressing to dogs that are unfamiliar with them or unaccustomed to being near children at all;
- Don’t try to play with any dog that is eating or feeding her puppies;
- Whenever you approach a dog, do so slowly, and give the dog the chance to approach you. Cross your arms or hold your hands at your side until the dog has shown its willingness to be petted. Never extend your hand or fingers to an unfamiliar dog;
- Don’t look a dog in the eye for an extended period of time. Dogs consider this a threat and may react accordingly;
- If a dog becomes aggressive, do not run away or scream, as this will only encourage a dog to chase and potentially attack. Stay calm, turn so that your side is facing the dog and move slowly to a safe spot. If you are attacked and brought to the ground, curl your body tightly into a fetal position and thread your fingers tightly together behind your neck.
Most importantly, if you or your children are bitten, get medical attention immediately, even if your wound seems minor. Infections can take hold in even the smallest of- punctures to the skin. Then, contact an experienced dog bite attorney with Harrell and Harrell at 800-251-1111.