According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), dog bites accounted for more than one-third of all insurance liability claim dollars paid out in 2012, at a cost of more than $489 million. With an estimated population of 70 million dogs living in U.S. households, millions of people – most of them children – are bitten by dogs every year. I am appalled by these facts. I’m a peace-loving pooch. So I can’t imagine chomping on a human!
Here are some alarming statistics demonstrating a serious public health issue:
- Each year, more than 4.5 million people in the U.S. are bitten by dogs.
- Almost 1 in 5 people bitten by dogs require medical attention.
- Every year, more than 800,000 Americans receive medical attention for dog bites; at least half of them are children.
- Children are, by far, the most common victims of dog bites and are far more likely to be severely injured.
- Most dog bites affecting young children occur during everyday activities and while interacting with familiar dogs.
- Senior citizens are the second most common dog bite victims.
The good news is that the majority of these bites, if not all, are preventable. To help eliminate the problem altogether, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) organizes National Dog Bite Prevention Week during the third full week of May each year—focusing on educating people about how to prevent dog bites. This year’s event is May 19-25, 3013.
“Understanding how dogs behave and how to behave around dogs could save countless people from the serious physical and emotional consequences of a dog bite,” said Dr. Douglas G. Aspros, president of American Veterinary Medical Association. As a building owner or facility manager, this information is critical for you not only for yourself with but also to post or distribute to tenants and/or employees in your building.
How to Avoid Dog Bites:
- Never run past a dog. We naturally love to chase and catch things.
- Do not disturb a dog that is caring for puppies, sleeping or eating. We love humans. But we also love to eat, sleep and care for our pups.
- If a dog approaches to sniff you, stay still. In most cases we will go away when we determines you are not a threat.
- If you are threatened by a dog, remain calm. Don’t scream or yell. If you say anything, speak calmly and firmly. Avoid eye contact. Try to stay still until the dog leaves or back away slowly until the dog is out of sight. Don’t turn and run.
- If you fall or are knocked to the ground, curl into a ball with your hands over your head and neck. Protect your face.
- I’m so sorry we have to share these facts. But I guess not every canine is as agreeable as me.
Be a Responsible Dog Owner
Even normally docile dogs may bite when they are frightened or when defending their puppies, owners or food. The most dangerous dogs are those that fall victim to human shortcomings such as poor training, irresponsible ownership and breeding practices that foster viciousness. So one of the best ways to prevent bites is to respect your dog and properly train him or her. And give them lots of bacon. We all love bacon.
To reduce the chances of your dog biting someone, consider taking the following steps:
- Consult with a professional (e.g., veterinarian, animal behaviorist, or responsible breeder) to learn about suitable breeds of dogs for your household and neighborhood.
- Spend time with a dog before buying or adopting it. Use caution when bringing a dog into a home with an infant or toddler. A dog with a history of aggression is inappropriate in a household with children.
- Be sensitive to cues that a child is fearful of or apprehensive about a dog and, if so, delay acquiring a dog. Never leave infants or young children alone with any dog.
- Socialize your dog so it knows how to act with other people and animals.
- Discourage children from disturbing a dog that is eating or sleeping.
- Play non-aggressive games with your dog, such as “go fetch.” Playing aggressive games like “tug-of-war” can encourage inappropriate behavior.
- Avoid exposing your dog to new situations in which you are unsure of its response.
- Never approach a strange dog and always avoid eye contact with a dog that appears threatening.
- Immediately seek professional advice from veterinarians, animal behaviorists, or responsible breeders if your dog develops aggressive or undesirable behaviors.
For more information and resources, visit the National Dog Bite Prevention Week page on the AVMA website. When it comes to protecting your place of business, the most important step you can take is to make sure your tenants are prepared. The RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services helps commercial buildings with compliance to fire life safety codes. Our interactive, building-specific e-learning training system motivates and rewards tenants instantly! It’s a convenient and affordable solution to all of the training needs of your building(s).