Dog bites are a serious public health problem that can cause both physical and emotional damage to victims and considerable cost to communities.
A dog’s tendency to bite depends on such factors as heredity, obedience training, socialization, health and the victim’s behaviour. There are good dogs and bad dogs within every breed, just as there can be responsible and irresponsible owners of each breed.
Who's being bitten?
- Children make up more than 50 per cent of all dog bite victims.
- The elderly and home service people like mail carriers and meter readers also are high on the list of frequent dog bite victims.
How can you avoid being bitten?
- Be cautious around strange dogs and treat your own pet with respect.
- Never leave a baby or small child alone with a dog.
- Be on the lookout for potentially dangerous situations.
- Teach young children to be careful around pets.
- Children must be taught NOT to approach strange dogs. Children should be taught to ask permission from a dog's owner before petting the dog.
- Don't run past a dog. Dogs naturally love to chase and catch things. Don't give them a reason to become excited or aggressive.
- Never disturb a dog that's caring for puppies, sleeping or eating.
- Stay still if a dog approaches to sniff you.
- Remain calm if you're threatened by a dog. Don't scream. If you say anything, speak calmly and firmly. Avoid eye contact. Try to stay still until the dog leaves, or back away slowly until the dog is out of sight. Don't turn and run.
- If you fall or are knocked to the ground, curl into a ball with your hands over your head and neck. Protect your face.
What if my dog bites someone?
Even if the bite can be explained (perhaps someone stepped on the dog's tail), it's important to take responsibility for your dog's actions by taking these steps:
- Restrain the dog immediately. Separate it from the scene of the attack. Confine it.
- Check on the victim's condition. Professional medical advice should be sought to evaluate the risk of rabies or other infections. Call 9-1-1 if paramedic response is required.
- Provide important information: your name and address and information about your dog's most recent rabies vaccination. If your dog does not have a current rabies vaccination, it may be necessary to quarantine it or even euthanize it for rabies testing. The person bitten may need to undergo rabies treatment.
- Report the bite to your insurance company.
- Comply with local ordinances regarding the reporting of dog bites.
- Consult your veterinarian for advice about dog behaviour that will help prevent similar problems in the future.
What if a dog bites me or my child?
- Treat your wounds.
- If your own dog bites you, immediately confine it and call your veterinarian to check your dog's vaccination records.
- If someone else's dog bites you, contact authorities and tell them everything you can about the dog: the owner's name, if you know it, colour and size of the dog, where you saw it and if you've seen it before. These details may help animal control officers locate the dog.