While the media often focuses on certain breeds as being dangerous, the reality is that breed is not a common factor in dog attacks. Rather, any dog, regardless of breed, size, or familiarity with the victim, may bite if the right set of circumstances is present.
The majority of dog bite victims are children, two-thirds of which are bitten on the head or neck, likely from trying to hug a dog whose body language they were too young to understand. Other common victims include postal carriers, who appear threatening when they deliver mail to the house, and the elderly, who can be overpowered by dogs.
While the American Veterinarian Medical Association reports that there are an estimated 70 million dogs living in homes across the United States, the number of dog bites is likely underreported. Accurate numbers on dog bites are lacking because few people seek treatment, though bites and other dog-related injuries cost insurers $530 million last year. According to the Insurance Information Institute, the number of dog-bite claims decreased 4.7 percent from 2013, but the average cost per claim rose by 15 percent because of higher medical costs and settlements. The average claim in 2014 was $32,072, up from $27,862.
Generally, the majority of bites, if not all, are preventable. Many unfortunate experiences with dogs can be avoided by teaching children to treat dogs with respect and avoid rough or aggressive play. Small children should never be left alone with a dog, even if it’s the family pet. Presumably, you love your child and your dog, so it’s much better to be safe than sorry. Take a moment today and review dog safety with your children.
WHAT TO DO AROUND DOGS
- Ask an owner before petting a dog you don’t know.
- Let the dog sniff your closed fist before touching it. Don’t offer a dog your hand with the palm up and fingers waggling in their face.
- If the dog seems unsure, be quiet and back away slowly.
- Freeze if a dog runs toward you. If you think a dog may attack, curl up in a ball like a rock or stand still like a tree.
WHAT NOT TO DO AROUND DOGS
- Tease a dog.
- Approach a dog that’s chained up or injured.
- Touch a dog you don’t know that’s not on a leash.
- Play with a dog while it’s eating.
- Touch one while it’s sleeping.
- Get close to a mama dog that’s nursing puppies.
- If you think a dog may attack, don’t make eye contact, scream, yell, run or hide.
IF YOU HAVE A DOG
- Spay or neuter your dog, which improves their overall health and makes them less likely to bite. This also decreases a dog’s desire to roam in search of a mate and fight with other animals.
- Socialize your dog so they are comfortable around people and other animals. Dogs that are isolated by living on a chain or in a kennel can become territorial and aggressive. All dogs crave human companionship.
- Always keep your dog under your control by using a leash. If you have a fenced-in yard, check periodically that all gates are properly locked and there are no holes under the fence where the dog could escape.
- Remove your pup from stressful situations such as those that introduce unfamiliar sounds, smells and people. Your pet should have a quiet, safe place to retreat to if it becomes overwhelmed.
- Keep your dog healthy, because those that are hurt or injured can be more aggressive. Take your pooch to the veterinarian for annual check-ups and whenever your dog’s activity or behavior changes.
If you have any questions about this topic, you can find out more by discussing it with one of the attorneys at The Mann Law Firm. We are ready to provide you with a free and confidential initial consultation. Contact us by calling (478) 742-3381 in Macon, Dublin, Warner Robbins or Milledgeville, or through our online form.