More than 4.5 million people are bitten each year in the US as reported by the American Veterinary Medical Association. And it just so happens to be National Dog Bite Prevention Week. Have you ever been bitten by a dog or know someone who has or even witnessed it happen? It truly is a horrible situation filled with mixed emotions and panic.
I was bit in the face by a neglected dog when I was just 9 years old. I was trying to keep my Mom’s Lhasa safe and got caught in the attack. I did save the dog but will have scars on my face forever. When I got older I realized that they put the dog down and that is pretty much how these things work out. But why? Can’t we work together to prevent dog bites in the first place?
Check out another story and a few tips for National Dog Bite Prevention Week:
I stayed in the house with most of the pack while my partner went to tend to the boys in the kennels outside. We’d been warned that two of the boys could not be kept together because they would fight and bite at one another. Darlene took one male dog out at a time, and when she was returning with Rex, she left Bowser’s kennel open. As one dog attempted to lunge and attack the other, Darlene stepped in the middle — and got bitten.
Seeing someone in the process of a dog bite is horrific, to say the least. As I approached the kennels, I saw one Cocker Spaniel clamped down on her arm while the other paced around, snapping at the other dog. I slammed a bucket down on the ground, Darlene screamed and the dog let go. We were able to safely get both dogs back into their kennels and deal with the aftermath.
We called our friend so she could come home and we could rush to the emergency room. Unfortunately, medical personnel are required to report a dog bite to the proper authorities, who, in turn, will investigate. We felt terrible, because our treasured friend had nothing to do with it. It happened on our watch. It was our mistake. Everything turned out fine, however, and with proper treatment and antibiotics, Darlene recovered nicely, despite having a wounded spirit.
One of the highest incidents of dog bites occurs toward mail carriers. The U.S. Postal Service ranks Los Angeles as the No. 1 city for postal employee dog bites in 2012. Nationwide, nearly 6,000 postal employees have been attacked in that same period.
You have to think like a dog to discover why dogs are so threatened by a stranger on “their” property. The stranger appears almost every day, trespasses, leaves something with his or her scent on it, and then departs — only after the dog has barked and “scared” the stranger off. To a dog, he’s done his duty.
Kids are the No. 1 victims of dog bites. Surprisingly, the AVMA says most dog bites happen in the course of everyday activities with familiar dogs. Seniors are the second most common dog bite victims.
There are a variety of reasons dogs bite, and sometimes they are not the most obvious reasons. Dogs bite when they are afraid, feel threatened, get excited, are at play, have been trained to be aggressive, are being protective with food or treats, or are in pain or annoyed. Dr. Huston says she encounters many people who ignore an owner’s request not to pet their dog and get bitten. “Never approach a strange dog without first asking permission from the dog’s owner,” Dr. Huston says. “If the owner indicates that handling the dog is dangerous, listen to that advice and keep your distance.”
Though National Dog Bite Prevention Week happens in May, dog bites are commonplace year round. As for my friend and I, we continue to dog sit, and the dog biting incident has not had any permanent effect on my partner. My heart, of course, continues to beat dog.