Greyt Inspirations Life

A little about our life, our business and our pets.

Dog bites

I was looking online today for news about dogs.  It’s amazing what you can find just by googling (I love that verb) “dogs news.”  You come up with everything dog-related.  But a couple of things that always sadden me are the number of stories I see that involve dog bites/attacks and the stories I see about breed specific legislation (BSL).  And the two things are often connected.



According to one story I found today in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, some 12-16 people per year are involved in fatal dog attack cases.  That figure comes from the Centers for Disease Control which tracks dog bite statistics.

The CDC has been tracking dog bites since the 1970s, and officials say the numbers have not been increasing. Each year, about 800,000 people seek medical attention for dog bites, and 386,000 of them require treatment in a hospital emergency department, the CDC notes.



Supervise kids with pets!

Supervise kids with pets!

Nearly half of all dog-bite victims are children under the age of 12, with children ages 5 to 9 at greatest risk, the CDC reports. 


Now, I don’t mean to make light of those figures at all.  But, I am surprised by them.  If I had to guess the number of people killed by dogs every year based on what I read in the papers I would think the number was in the hundreds.  In case you haven’t noticed, our media believes that we are in some kind of dog attack epidemic.  There are shows on TV all the time about animals attacking people.  Newspapers trumpet stories about dog maulings every chance they get.  As a matter of fact, as the numbers indicate, the figures are holding steady and the CDC reports that many of the incidents involving dogs are no more than scratches.


“There are very few public health crises that can truly be cured by public awareness and education, but dog bites are one of them,” according to the American Veterinary Medical Association Web site. The “suffering, injury, disability and mortality is completely unnecessary. It’s up to people, not dogs, to stop dog bites.”


Dr. Beaver, immediate past president of the AVMA, emphasized that education is the key.


“Dog owners need to learn how to make their dogs good citizens,” and that means training pets and teaching them to behave properly around people and other animals, Dr. Beaver said.


“The victims that are bitten most often are children. Children need to learn how to behave around dogs. And if parents would learn to never leave children unattended around dogs,” the number of dog bites would decrease dramatically, she said…


Tips from the CDC and American Veterinary Medical Association include: ask permission from the dog owner before petting any dog; let a strange dog sniff you before touching it, and then pet gently, avoiding the dog’s face, head and tail.


If confronted by a hostile dog, remain calm and avoid eye contact. Stand still or back away slowly until the dog leaves. If knocked down, curl into a ball and protect your face with your arms.


Other organizations that provide campaigns and programs aimed at reducing dog bites include the U.S. Postal Service and the American Academy of Pediatrics. In 2007, about 3,000 postal employees, nationwide, were bitten by dogs, according to the Postal Service.


Amen to all that.  When my brothers and I were kids our parents taught us how to act around animals.  You don’t go up to strange dogs.  You ask permission before petting.  You put out your hand, carefully, and let a dog sniff you.  You don’t make sudden moves with an unknown dog.  In those days (and it wasn’t so long ago), we were taught that unknown animals could carry diseases and we should be careful of them.  We had to evaluate how an animal (any animal — not just a dog) behaved before we tried to pet it.  Did it act like a normal pet dog or cat?  If not, we were supposed to leave it alone or we could be hurt.  That meant that we had to know how a “normal” animal behaved.  And we did know how normal animals behaved.  Unfortunately, there are a lot of kids who don’t have that kind of background knowledge to draw on now.  Their parents haven’t provided them with real animal information.  For many small children they may think real animals behave like cartoon animals.  So, whenever they see any kind of animal they may lunge at it and try to pet it or pick it up.  The result can be a bite.


Supervision is so important when children are around any animals.  Supervision and pet education — education about the way that animals really behave, not how they would behave if they had human feelings.  The more real education kids have about how animals actually act, the less likely they are to be bitten or injured when they meet a new dog or cat.  We all know that our dogs can be very sweet and loving, but dogs can also bark at strangers, defend their territory, growl over food, get into a fight with another dog, and become possessive about toys.  If a child tries to interfere with any of these behaviors — normal dog behaviors — she could be hurt.  Teach kids about real dog behavior, not just how cute dogs are.

January 26, 2009 Posted by | dogs, Pets | , , | Leave a comment