This week is National Dog Bite Prevention week. Seattle Animal Shelter Director Don Jordan says every family who accepts the commitment that comes with bringing a dog into their home has a responsibility to neighbors, friends and children to prevent bites.
“Dog bites can cause serious injury to human victims, who are often children or elderly people," he said.
“Dogs who bite often lose their homes and sometimes their lives," he said.
"And remember, don’t make assumptions about dogs based on their breed. Any size or kind of dog can bite.”
The ASPCA says the vast majority of child dog bites are from a dog known to the child - his or her own pet, a neighbor's or friend's. They suggest the following list of pledges that will help your child understand the difference between safe and potentially dangerous interactions with dogs.
Recite these pledges with your child:
1. I will not stare into a dog's eyes.
2. I will not tease dogs behind fences.
3. I will not go near dogs chained up in yards.
4. I will not touch a dog I see loose (off-leash) outside.
5. If I see a loose dog, I will tell an adult immediately.
6. I will not run and scream if a loose dog comes near me.
7. I will stand very still (like a tree), and will be very quiet if a dog comes near me.
8. I will not touch or play with a dog while he or she is eating.
9. I will not touch a dog when he or she is sleeping.
10. I will only pet a dog if I have received permission from the dog's owner.
11. Then I will ask permission of the dog by letting him sniff my closed hand.
National Dog Bite Prevention Week partners offer the following tips:
• Never leave a baby or small child alone with a dog.
• Don’t run past a dog. The dog’s natural instinct is to chase and catch you.
• If a dog threatens you, don’t scream. Avoid eye contact. Try to remain motionless until the dog leaves, then back away slowly until the dog is out of sight.
• Never approach a strange dog, especially one that’s tethered or confined.
• Don’t disturb a dog that is sleeping, eating or caring for puppies.
• Anyone wanting to pet a dog should first obtain permission from the owner.
• Always let a dog see and sniff you before petting the animal.
• If you believe a dog is about to attack you, try to place something between yourself and the dog, such as a backpack or a bicycle.
• If you are knocked down by a dog, curl into a ball and protect your face with your hands.
Be a Responsible Dog Owner
• Obedience training can teach a dog to behave properly and help owners control their dogs.
• When letter carriers and others who are not familiar with your dog come to your home, keep your dog inside, in another room away from the door.
• In protecting their territory, dogs may interpret people’s actions as a threat.
• Spay or neuter your dog. Neutered dogs are less likely to roam.
• Dogs that receive little attention or handling, or are left tied up for long periods of time, frequently turn into biters.
• Rinse the bite area with soapy water.
• Elevate limb(s) that have been bitten.
• Apply antiseptic lotion or cream. Watch the area for signs of infection for several days after the incident.
• For deeper bites or puncture wounds, apply pressure with a clean bandage or towel to stop the bleeding. Then wash the wound, dry it and cover with a sterile dressing. Don’t use tape or butterfly bandages to close the wound.
• It’s a good idea to call your child’s physician because a bite could require antibiotics or a tetanus shot. The doctor also can help you to report the incident.
• If your child is bitten severely, call 9-1-1 or go to the emergency room.
When going to the emergency room, advise the personnel of: your tetanus vaccination status; vaccine status of the dog; who the dog owner is; and, if the dog has bitten before.
Dog bite prevention resources