Dog Bites: Prevention is Key

February 12th, 2013 posted by the American Humane Association

by the American Humane Association

Summer is the time when most dog bites occur, and children under age 15 are the most likely victims. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 400,000 children each year seek medical attention for dog bites. In recognition of National Dog Bite Prevention Week, May 21-27, promoted by the American Veterinary Medical Association, the U.S. Postal Service and the CDC, American Humane urges parents and dog owners to learn how they can help keep their neighborhood children safe. “Any breed of dog may bite. And even family pets, not just dogs that are unknown to a child, have the potential to bite,” said Dr. Bill Torgerson, DVM, vice president of Animal Protection Services for American Humane. “Relationships between kids and animals can be so positive and meaningful – on both sides – it would be tragic to discourage that because of fear. At the same time, the worst thing that could happen is for a child to get hurt.” According to American Humane, adults – both dog owners and parents – play the most important role in keeping children safe and ensuring that the interaction is positive for both the children and the dogs.

To prevent dog bites, adults should teach children:

  • Never to approach an unknown dog or a dog who is alone without its owner, and always ask the owner’s permission before petting it.
  • Never approach an injured animal – go find an adult who can get it the help it needs.
  • Never approach a dog that is eating, sleeping or has something it likes – like a bone or toy – because it may feel the need to guard it.
  • Don’t poke, hit, pull, pinch or tease a dog – the dog may not realize you’re just playing.
  • Don’t chase or run from a dog.

“Adults need to realize that children must be supervised whenever they are playing with any dog because children often don’t realize what their actions say in ‘dog language.’ Babies and young children should never be left unattended with a dog, not even the family pet,” Torgerson said.

Teaching professionals “dog language”

In addition to children, several other groups of people – such as postal workers, utility meter readers and police officers – are at a higher-than-average risk of receiving dog bites. According to Postal Service officials, about 3,000 postal carriers are victims of dog attacks each year. Through American Humane’s “Bark… Stop, Drop & Roll™” training course, postal workers and other professionals who encounter strange dogs in their day-to-day work can learn how to understand the messages dogs communicate. // “Most dogs give a warning before they bite,” said Kerri Burns, course instructor for American Humane and co-creator of “Bark… Stop, Drop & Roll.” “If we can help people understand those warning signs and respond appropriately, we can avoid some bite situations.” “Bark… Stop, Drop & Roll” was launched following the fatal shooting of a family pet by police officers, to teach officers how to recognize when a dog’s behavior indicates a need for force and when less drastic measures can be applied. In addition, a similar program designed for postal carriers and other service delivery personnel has recently been launched. Visit to learn more about “Bark… Stop, Drop & Roll “.

the American Humane Association (1 Posts)


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