Last year, insurance companies paid out a record breaking $479 million for dog bite claims. On average, 4.5 million Americans are bitten by dogs annually. So, it’s not surprising that 800,000 of them sought medical attention in 2011.
Despite the fact that half of the 4.5 million people bitten are children, these stories seldom make headlines. Although media reports and rumors give the impression that certain breeds of dogs are more likely to bite, there is little scientific evidence to support those claims.
Even the cuddliest, fuzziest, sweetest pup can attack if provoked. In most instances, people are bitten by their own dog or one they know. Some owners actually promote aggression in their dogs or allow aggression to go unchecked. Many dogs are not properly trained which can also lead to aggression.
This week is National Dog Bite Prevention Week. To educate the public on dog safety, The U.S. Postal Service, the American Veterinary Medical Association and Center for Disease Control and Prevention release dog bite statistics.
Here are some important tips and safety guidelines when encountering a dog:
- Do not disturb a dog who is sleeping, eating, or caring for puppies.
- Do not approach an unfamiliar dog.
- Do not run from a dog and scream. Stay calm.
- Remain motionless (e.g., "be still like a tree") when approached by an unfamiliar dog.
- If knocked over by a dog, roll into a ball and lie still with hands over head protecting the face.
- Do not play with a dog unless supervised by an adult.
- Immediately report stray dogs or dogs displaying unusual behavior to an adult.
- Avoid direct eye contact with a dog.
- Do not pet a dog without allowing it to see and sniff you first.
- If bitten, immediately report the bite to an adult.
Ultimately, the responsibility of a dog is on the owner. The owner must be aware of the dog’s actions and train it to be social and comfortable in different environments. If you’d like to read more on dog safety visit http://www.avma.org/public_health/dogbite/dogbite.pdf
How do you protect your family or dog from these types of injuries? We’d love to your stories. Test your knowledge
This post was written by Brittney Pistor, Marketing Communication Intern at Westfield Insurance.