Don Famico, Certified Animal Control Officer in Salem, MA, shares some tips on how to prevent dog bites, both for owners and non-owners of dogs.
Good morning. I’m Don Famico. I’m the Animal Control Officer with the City of Salem as well as Inspector of Animals for the State of Massachusetts. This morning, we’re here to talk about dog bite prevention. My first advice to homeowners is to maybe post a sign on the premises of your property of “beware of dogs”. At least, somebody’s coming in as a guest, they’re aware that there is a dog on the premises, so they’re not all of a sudden meeting up with this dog on the back side of the property. It just makes them alert to that fact.
The second thing is to try to educate children on the proper methods of approaching a dog. You want to make sure that they always ask permission of the dog owner to, “Can I pat the dog?” You want to make sure that they’re not bothering the dog when the dog is eating or sleeping. That’s three good points for children to be aware of. Third thing is, if you’re walking down the street and there’s a dog coming in the opposite direction, you want to either step aside, allow that dog to pass by, keep yourself at a safe distance. You don’t really want to make eye contact. If for some reason you feel as though you want to pat that dog, or make contact, be sure to ask the dog owner for permission first, if it’s permissible for you to go over and make contact with the dog.
If you are looking for information on how to avoid dog bites then there are many things that you should know. There are millions of families in this country who have dogs, most of which are happy experiences. However there are many interactions that are not positive. There are approximately 4.7 million people bitten by dogs every year. There are organizations that are helping to reduce this number, such as The Humane Society of the US. There are a few things you should take into account to lessen the chances of a dog bite occurring.
How to Avoid Dog Bites
Q: What is the best way to avoid dog bites?
A: The biggest thing to remember is proper timing when approaching a dog. You should not approach a strange dog or one that is tired or has been confined. You should also allow a dog to see and sniff you before you pet them. It is also not a good idea to turn your back and run from a dog as the natural instinct is to chase you. You should not try to interact with a dog when they are sleeping, eating, caring for puppies or playing with a toy. A mindset is to assume that a dog does not know who you are and thinks you are an intruder.
Q: How should I act if I think a dog is going to attack?
A: If you think a dog will attack do not run and scream. Rather keep your hands at your side and do not move. You should not make eye contact with the dog. When the dog has lost interest then you can slowly move away. If for some reason the dog does attack then use whatever you have to put between yourself and the dog, even if it means feeding it your favorite purse. If you end up on the ground it is best to curl up in a ball with your hands over your eyes and try not to move or scream.
Q: What is the first thing to do after being bitten?
A: Do not panic, but rather clean your wound thoroughly and call your physician to get advice and care for the wound. You should also report any bite to animal control. You will need to give the official with animal control all the information you may have on the dog and dog’s owner as well as the incident. You should also consider contacting a dog bite lawyer who knows about dog attack laws specific to your area.
Q: Can I teach my child how to avoid dog bites?
A: Safety is one of the biggest things to teach a child and safety around dogs is no different. You should be sure to teach your children that teasing and chasing dogs is not safe and to avoid going up to dogs they do not know.
Dog Bite Q&A
Q: How many dog bites happen in a year in the US?
A: There are more than 4.7 million cases of dog bites every year, many of which are from children. This adds up to 2% of the population being bitten each year, though the severity differed.
Q: How many deaths occur each year as the result of dog bites?
A: Every year about 10 to 20 people die from dog bites. Most of the people who die from the dog bites are children.
Q: Is there a reason that some dogs bite?
A: There can be many reasons that a dog would bite. The biggest motivators for a dog to bite are fear and protecting their territory. They may also bite as a way to establish dominance over a person. There are also owners who allow their dog to bite when they play, which can lead to dog bites. Some newborns are killed when dogs view them as prey. Due to all these different aspects that can lead to dog bites it is important to be a responsible dog owner. This includes aspects such as proper training, socialization, safely confining your dog and getting them spayed or neutered.
Q: What dog breeds are the most likely to attack?
A: The dog breed responsible for the most attacks is different every year and is not the same in all countries. The thing to remember here is that while genetics may come into play, they are only one aspect that should be considered. Dogs that do not have responsible owners are more likely to bite, which is why this is important.
Q: Are there laws helping to prevent dog bites?
A: There are a number of dangerous dog laws though the most effective are ones that actually impose a legal ramification against the owner. There are a number of ways that the owner can be held accountable including mandating corrective training, paying for the victim’s pain and suffering, proper confinement and much more. To understand the legislation that is working to reduce dog bites within your community contact HSUS.
Q: Are the Humane Society of the US and my animal control affiliated?
A: While HSUS is the largest organization for animal protection they are not affiliated with local animal care facilities or animal control. They have more than 7 million members and they offer guidelines and recommendations for the people who work in the shelters and animal control. On top of this they even offer guidance and training while working with the local organizations on important animal protection issues.
How to Teach Your Child Dog Bite Prevention
Animals, especially dogs, are something that children naturally flock to. While this is not a bad thing, they need to learn to have the proper caution. There are 4.7 million dog bites occurring every year in the US. Interestingly, 80% of that number coming from dogs that the victims were familiar with and 50% of the victims were children under 13. It is also important to note that children are three times more likely to have a serious bite compared to an adult. There are a number of ways that you can prevent dog bites from occurring.
The best thing your child can do when they confront a dog is to move slowly and speak quietly. There are some more rules that they should follow:
Ask permission from the dog’s owner before petting a dog. If they consent you will want to approach slowly and allow the dog to sniff you before you pet them.
Do not sneak up on a dog who is asleep or eating.
Do not pet a dog that is playing with a toy, in a car or behind a fence as they can be protective.
Teach your child about the body language of a dog. If a dog puts its ears back and tail between its legs then it is frightened. An angry dog will stand up straight and try to make themselves bigger. Often times they will show their teeth and growl. You do not want to approach dogs that are scared or angry.
Avoid stray dogs and do not make eye contact. Move slowly and quietly away. If they approach you stand still with your hands at your side. If you are playing on the ground and the dog comes up to you, lie still in a ball with your hands over your ears. If you stay still and quiet the dog will usually just sniff and run off.
No matter what do not try to outrun any dog but rather move away slowly.