Annually more than four million Americans, approximately half of them children, suffer dog bite injuries. Injury rates are highest among children between the ages of five and nine, with boys being bitten more often than girls in the same age group. The number of dog bite injuries increases between the months of April and September, with the peak occurring in July.
According to the CDC, as many as 800,000 people require medical attention for dog bites annually. Of those, 368,000 are treated in hospital emergency departments and about a dozen die each year from dog bite injuries.
Responsible dog ownership along with teaching children how to act around dogs, are proven ways to prevent dog bites. Remember direct adult supervision of children remains the hallmark of Injury Prevention.
Safety Tips for Adults and Children
- Never approach an unfamiliar dog.
- Never run from or scream around a dog.
- If you believe a dog is about to attack you, try to place something between yourself and the dog, such as a backpack or a bicycle.
- If a dog knocks you over, roll into a ball, cover your face and stay still.
- Children should never play with dogs unless supervised by an adult.
- Children should tell an adult if they see a stray dog or a dog acting strangely.
- Don't look a dog directly in its eye.
- Don't disturb a dog that is sleeping, eating or caring for puppies.
- Don't play with a dog without allowing him to see and sniff you first. Children should never approach a dog unless supervised by an adult.
- Adults should never leave an infant or young child alone with any dog, not even the family pet.
If bitten by a dog:
- Seek medical attention immediately.
- Control bleeding and wash the area of the bite with soap and water.
- Report the bite to your local county health department, animal control agency or police.
- Provide authorities with an accurate description of the dog, the circumstances surrounding the bite, and the dog owner's identity, if known.
For more information on dog bites, please visit the following Web sites:
www.doh.state.fl.us, www.fvma.com, www.nodogbites.org, or www.facafla.org.
Adapted from the Florida Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.