Despite having a reputation as “man’s best friend,” dogs can pose a serious threat to the health and well-being of a community. National Dog Bite Prevention Week takes place during the third week of May each year and focuses on educating people about preventing dog bites. 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. The majority of these bites, if not all, are preventable.
- Prevent the Bite reports that according to the Center for Disease Control, dog bites are the 11th leading cause of non-fatal injury to children ages one to four, 9th for ages five to nine, and 10th for ages ten to fourteen.
- The Insurance Information Institute estimates that in 2013, insurers across the country paid over $483 million in dog bite claims.
- The American Society for Reconstructive Microsurgery reports 26,935 reconstructive procedures were performed in 2013 to repair injuries caused by dog bites.
- The U.S. Postal Service reports that 5,581 postal employees were attacked by dogs in 2013. Children, elderly, and postal carriers are the most frequent victims of dog bites.
- The American Humane Association reports that 66% of bites among children occur to the head and neck.
It is important for children and their parents to know that any dog can bite and cause serious injury. The American Veterinary Medical Association says educational programs that address how to avoid dog attacks best serve children in kindergarten through fourth grade. However, parents can teach their children appropriate behavior around dogs at any time. Listed below are tips for avoiding dog bites set forth by the CDC:
- Be able to recognize agitated or anxious dogs. A scared dog can be identified by standing ears and back fur, tail straight up, and growling or bared teeth. A scared dog may try to make itself appear smaller by crouching, flattening its ears, or lowering its head.
- Never approach a dog you do not know. If an unfamiliar dog approaches you, remain still and let the dog sniff you. Dogs identify others by sniffing them.
- Speak softly and move slowly around dogs. Loud voices and movements can excite a dog and be interpreted as aggression.
- If an aggressive dog confronts you, stay calm. Do not make eye contact and never try to outrun a dog. Back away slowly, and “feed” the dog something it can grab, such as a jacket, book bag, or shoe. These items will often divert the dog’s attention.
The law firm of Hoskins, Turco, Lloyd & Lloyd has decades of experience representing individuals and their families in a multitude of personal injury cases. If you or a loved one has sustained serious injury from a dog bite, contact our office today for a free case evaluation. Our diligent attorneys represent each and every client with the utmost respect, compassion, and employ the thorough legal expertise needed to make each case a success.
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