The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has stepped up its campaign to increase awareness about dog bites. It is estimated that dog bites lead to about 5% of all emergency department visits, with thousands of people bitten by dogs each year. According to findings published by HSUS, the elderly, children, and mail carriers are among those most at risk for dog bites, although virtually anyone can be affected.
Although some dog owners claim that their dogs are not aggressive, HSUS has found that the majority of dog bites were inflicted by dogs who were considered unlikely to bite. According to HSUS, there is not always previous indication that an animal may turn aggressive. For this reason, the Humane Society offers a number of tips for preventing dog bites:
*Do not approach strange dogs. Be especially wary of dogs that are confined.
*Avoid running past dogs. Even un-aggressive dogs will sometimes start to chase someone who is running, as this is natural instinct for the animals.
*If a dog is aggressive towards you, avoid eye contact, remain motionless and stay quiet until the dog leaves by itself. Once the dog is no longer threatening you, back away slowly and quietly, while keeping your eye on the dog. This makes you seem less threatening to the animal and increases the odds that the dog will leave you alone. Try not to scream – the sound is likely to aggravate the animal and make it even more aggressive.
If you own a dog, you can take steps to greatly reduce the instances of dog bites. Keep in mind that if a dog you own attacks someone, you may be held liable. In almost all cases, the dog will be put down. To avoid this sort of difficult situation, HSUS recommends that all dog owners:
*Take their dogs to obedience school. Proper training can help you control your dog and potentially avert a problem.
*Keep your dog indoors unless you can supervise your pet. Especially be sure to keep your dog indoors when the letter carrier arrives. Your pet may wish to protect your home and family and may see the letter carrier as a threat.
*Avoid tying up your dog for extended periods of time and be sure to offer your pet plenty of attention and affection. Animals that are neglected are often poorly socialized and are far more likely to bite.
*Neuter or spay your pet. This reduces aggression and makes your pet far less likely to bite. In fact, HSUS reports that dogs that have been spayed or neutered are up to three times less likely to bite than dogs that have not been neutered or spayed.