Dog Bite PreventionPublished June 4, 2009
Often when we entertain guests at our home, when they see our cats, one of the first questions they ask, especially by their children is, "Do they bite?" This always reminds me of an interaction between a young man and one of the grooms at the barn in which I kept my horse, when asked about a horse standing in the aisle on cross ties awaiting his rider, "Does he bite?" to which the groom nonchalantly replied, "he has teeth." I am not generally that terse with our guests, but the fact of the matter, this is one of the most straightforward answers to this questions I have ever heard. While I am more compassionate with our guests and try to educate them about how to approach our cats the correct way, accidents can happen, especially if upon approaching a strange cat can be frightening to them. So it is with the Canine species. Dogs can appear cute and cuddly, but even the most well mannered dog can be unpredictable at times, depending on the circumstances. We all remember that famous incident with one of the White House correspondents who approached Barney, the former President Bush's adorable Scottish terrier with poor "dogequette". He immediately received an unexpected painful nip. In fact, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs annually, with one in five bites requiring medical attention. It was reported that over 31,000 people required reconstructive surgery after being bitten, in 2006. Dr. Nick Jourlies, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians commented, "Most dogs are friendly, with no intentions to cause harm to anyone. But sometimes, they act aggressively toward strangers for a variety of reasons." So how can dog bites be avoided? 1. Avoid startling a dog. Be quiet in their presence, and make no sudden moves. 2. Do not run from a dog or startle it. If approached by a strange or threatening dog, remain motionless. 3. Do not pet a strange dog without letting it see you. Always allow the dog sniff you first. 4. Always avoid eye contact with a dog. 5. Roll into a ball if knocked over by a dog. Cover your head, and if possible, remain still. 6. Do not bother a dog that is eating, sleeping, or a female caring for her puppies. 7. And most importantly, avoid unfamiliar dogs or any dog that is behaving strangely. Stay away from them if possible to prevent confrontation and injury. 8. Share this information with your children so they are fully informed about how to and how not to interact with unfamiliar dogs, making their outdoor playtime safer. If you or your child are bitten: 1. Clean the wound with running water and apply pressure. 2. Teach children to immediately seek assistance from an adult to get any necessary medical attention. 3. Contact your physician or go to the emergency room if a fever develops or the wound becomes red, painful, swollen or exhibits other signs of possible infection. 4. Call 911 in the case of a severe attack. Facial wounds can be very dangerous and immediate medical care is prudent. 5. Most dogs with owners have been vaccinated for Rabies. However, contact your local health department, or animal control. Contact your physician. Tetanus shots for adults and children are often recommended. For more information about dog bite prevention visit the CDC Dog Bite Prevention website at http://www.cdc.gov/HomeandRecreationalSafety/Dog-Bites/biteprevention.html Also listen to their podcast at http://www2a.cdc.gov/podcasts/player.asp?f=11206 Have you been bitten by a dog? Leave a comment to share your experience.