Dog bite injuries send approximately 800,000 Americans to the doctor each year and half of those are children, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Among those injured, approximately 386,000 go to emergency rooms, and nearly a dozen die. The CDC also hosts a directory of breeds of dogs involved in fatal human attacks from 1979 to 1998, and they offer the following tips to help prevent dog bite injuries in children:
- “Do not approach an unfamiliar dog.
- Do not run from a dog and scream.
- Remain motionless (e.g., ‘be still like a tree’) when approached by an unfamiliar dog.
- If knocked over by a dog, roll into a ball and lie still (e.g., ‘be still like a log’).
- Do not play with a dog unless supervised by an adult.
- Immediately report stray dogs or dogs displaying unusual behavior to an adult.
- Avoid direct eye contact with a dog.
- Do not disturb a dog who is sleeping, eating, or caring for puppies.
- Do not pet a dog without allowing it to see and sniff you first.
- If bitten, immediately report the bite to an adult.”
The Humane Society of the United States also offers these tips to help prevent your own dog from biting someone:
- “Spay or neuter your dog. This important and routine procedure will reduce your dog’s desire to roam and fight with other dogs, making safe confinement an easier task. Spayed or neutered dogs are much less likely to bite.
- Socialize your dog. Introduce your dog to many different types of people and situations so that he or she is not nervous or frightened under normal social circumstances.
- Train your dog. Accompanying your dog to a training class is an excellent way to socialize him and to learn proper training techniques. Training your dog is a family matter. Every member of your household should learn the training techniques and participate in your dog’s education. Never send your dog away to be trained; only you can teach your dog how to behave in your home. Note that training classes are a great investment even for experienced dog caregivers.
- Teach your dog appropriate behavior. Don’t teach your dog to chase after or attack others, even in fun. Your dog can’t always understand the difference between play and real-life situations. Set appropriate limits for your dog’s behavior. Don’t wait for an accident. The first time he exhibits dangerous behavior toward any person, seek professional help from your veterinarian, an animal behaviorist, or a qualified dog trainer. Your community animal care and control agency or humane society may also offer helpful services. Dangerous behavior toward other animals may eventually lead to dangerous behavior toward people, and is also a reason to seek professional help.
- Be a responsible dog owner. License your dog as required by law, and provide regular veterinary care, including rabies vaccinations. For everyone’s safety, don’t allow your dog to roam alone. Make your dog a member of your family: Dogs who spend a great deal of time alone in the backyard or tied on a chain often become dangerous. Dogs who are well-socialized and supervised are much less likely to bite.
- Err on the safe side. If you don’t know how your dog will react to a new situation, be cautious. If your dog may panic in crowds, leave him at home. If your dog overreacts to visitors or delivery or service personnel, keep him in another room. Work with professionals to help your dog become accustomed to these and other situations. Until you are confident of his behavior, however, avoid stressful settings.”
Previously on the D.C. Metro Area Personal Injury Law Blog, we’ve posted articles related to:
If you or a family member believes that you have a case involving a dog bite, please contact us on-line at Regan Zambri & Long or call us at (202) 463-3030 for a free consultation. If you would like to receive our complimentary electronic newsletter, please click here.
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