many people, I have always loved animals. That sentiment
didn’t prevent me from getting bitten in the face by a
dog when I was about 4 years old.
remember the episode vividly. Even at that young age, I
instinctively felt it was my fault and never told my
parents. I felt guilty about bothering the dog, although
I was just trying get close enough to pet it. The small
black Chihuahua was trying to sleep and I didn’t
respect its boundaries. I learned a lesson that day.
my life has been filled with animals — including a few
wild ones raised in our home when I was a child — I
have never again been bitten by an animal, save an
occasional nip from a hamster.
is not to say that I haven’t been intimidated by a few
aggressive dogs. But I have learned to pay attention to
their body language. When it says "back off,"
I comply. If a dog, even a family pet, feels threatened
or cornered, it may resort to biting.
the sake of the child and the animal, we need to teach
children how to behave around them.
breeds of dogs were bred to hunt, chase and capture
vermin. Even a thoroughly domesticated dog can
instinctively resort to that behavior if it isn’t
under an owner’s control. And people should never,
ever, leave an unattended dog with a baby. I have read
that to a dog’s ears, a baby’s cry is very similar
to that of its favorite squeaky toy which mimics a
studies show the majority of dog bites are inflicted by
the family pet. Unfortunately, most studies also show
that once a dog gets the desired reaction (the person
goes away) it is inclined to repeat the behavior,
sometimes more aggressively.
year, 4.7 million people are bitten by a dog in this
county. On average, 16 deaths are attributed annually to
dog attacks. According to a 2010 study by Dr. Vikram
Durairaj of the University of Colorado School of
Medicine, more than half the bites are to children who
usually suffer injuries to the face and neck.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says these
statistics are largely preventable.
American Veterinary Medical Association sponsors Dog
Bite Prevention Week the third full week of May. The
annual event is designed to educate people on best
practices and to teach children how to avoid being
common sense word to the wise: Allowing children to hug
an animal puts the child in danger. To a dog, hugging is
a form of intimidation putting both child and dog at
risk. It also puts the child’s face in the close
proximity to the dog’s mouth making it an easy target.
Teach children to respect a dog’s boundaries to reduce
the possibility of a bite incident from occurring.
some areas, including Summit County, Ohio, police,
doctors, hospitals, animal clinics, groomers and pet
adoption groups are required by law to notify the Public
Health department when they know an animal has bitten
someone. The consequences for the owner will include a
visit and an investigation by a health inspector and
quarantining the animal if you don’t have proof it has
been vaccinated against rabies. Additionally, owners
risk the possibility the dog being deemed
"vicious," which requires a whole slew of new
and costly conditions if they want to keep it. And,
count on the victim or the victim’s parents suing you.
children basic safety around dogs and regularly review
these rules provided by the Centers for Disease Control
not approach an unfamiliar dog.
not run from a dog and scream.
motionless (e.g., "be still like a tree") when
approached by an unfamiliar dog.
knocked over by a dog, roll into a ball and lie still
(e.g., "be still like a log").
not play with a dog unless supervised by an adult.
report stray dogs or dogs displaying unusual behavior to
direct eye contact with a dog.
not disturb a dog that is sleeping, eating, or caring
not pet a dog without allowing it to see and sniff you
bitten, immediately report the bite to an adult.