An average of 4.6 million Americans are bitten every year by dogs. To some that might sound like a shocking statistic, but in our modern age of overactive presumption, it’s important to realize that only about 20 to 30 or these bites end up being fatal… Many are even avoidable, given the right precautions and use of common sense. In this article, we’ll lay out the advice of professionals on avoiding fatal dog bites and how to handle them, if they do occur.
Kids Are Most Likely To Be Bitten
It’s never fun to hear a frightening fact like this, but (statistically speaking) children between the ages of 5 to 9 years old are the most likely victims of dog bites. When it comes to kids, annual emergency room incidents for dog bites are second only to baseball/softball injuries. It certainly hasn’t been easy to avoid hearing about these attacks in the news either, so our rational response should be to take the necessary steps in preventing horrific accidents such as these.
You may ask yourself, “Should I teach my children to avoid animals completely?”… Of course not. Like most everything else in life, there’s a balanced and reasonable approach to this matter. The CDC even has a list of “Dos” and “Don’ts” (that can just as easily apply to adults too). The full list is available on the CDC’s website, but here’s just a few of the precautions you can take to ensure your child is safe around dogs.
How To Avoid Dog Bites
- Remain motionless when approached by an unfamiliar dog.
- Curl into a ball with your head tucked and your hands over your ears and neck if a dog knocks you over.
- Immediately let an adult know about stray dogs or dogs that are behaving strangely.
- Get close to an unknown dog.
- Run from a dog, if it’s chasing you.
- Panic or make loud sounds.
- Disturb a dog that is sleeping, eating, or caring for puppies.
- Pet a dog without allowing it to see and sniff you first.
- Encourage your dog to play aggressively.
- Let small children play with a dog unsupervised.
What Do I Do If I’m Attacked By A Dog?In the heat of the moment, it’s easy to get panicked by what’s going on and let fear drive your decision-making, but the most important factor in surviving a dog attack is to stay focused on the task at hand. Of course, every situation is different when it comes to dog bites, but doing the following practices will help minimize the damage of an attack in general.
- Put something (ie. purse, bag, or jacket) between you and the dog to protect yourself.
- If knocked down, curl into a ball with your head tucked in and your hands over your ears and neck.
- Wash wounds with soap and water, then seek medical attention immediately.
- Report the incident to your local animal control agency or police department.
- Contact the owner and ensure the animal has a current rabies vaccination.
- Contact your personal injury lawyer for a consultation, regarding dog bite injuries.
Are There Any Long-Term Concerns?
Once the immediate threat has passed, you may be tempted to relax and forget about the whole ordeal. Unfortunately, there are some things for which you should look out. One of the most common consequences of a dog bite is a variety of infections and diseases, ranging from Pasteurella (the most common) to Rabies (the most fatal) and everything in between. So regardless of the relief you may feel given the situation, it’s important to follow-up with your doctor and insure that all necessary steps are taken to prevent any further complications.
In summary, there’s always the risk of incurring injury when it comes to dealing with dogs (and animals of almost any kind), but with the right amount of know-how and application of common sense, we can all continue to safely care for our furry companions (and of course, “man’s best friend”).