In the United States, 50 percent of all children will be bitten by a dog before their 12th birthday. This dreadful statistic is behind a national effort to increase awareness about how to prevent dog bites. This year National Dog Bite Prevention week is May 16-22. Every year the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) sponsors this event to help educate people about avoiding the problem. This year the theme is "Everybody plays a part" in preventing dog bites. Dog owners must train, socialize, and safely confine their dogs. People who come into contact with dogs must learn how to act properly to prevent bites. And parents need to explain the to their kids how to deal with dogs. The majority of dogs bites are from dog known to a child, whether the family pet, a neighbor or friend’s dog. Here’s a list of things you should tell your kids to do and NOT do when they encounter dogs:
- Stare into a dog’s eyes.
- Tease dogs behind fences.
- Go near dogs that are chained.
- Touch loose dogs (i.e., any dog that is not on a leash).
- Run or scream when a dog approaches.
- Touch or play with a dog while it is eating or sleeping.
- Tell an adult immediately if a loose dog is around.
- Stand still and be quiet if a dog approaches.
- Before touching a dog, ask the owner’s permission.
- Before touching a dog, ask the dog’s permission by letting it sniff a closed hand.
These little rules are simple, but clearly a lot of people don’t know them. Every year, 650,000 bites a year are severe enough to require medical attention. But with a little common sense and education, you can keep your pets, kids, and yourself free of injury and a whole lot of anguish.