MONTGOMERY, AL (WAFF) - Sunday kicked off National Dog Bite Prevention week, an effort spearheaded by the American Veterinary Medical Association to remind families about the injuries possible from bites by all dogs, domesticated or wild, ferocious or usually docile.
"Dog bites continue to be one of the most common injuries reported," said William Bledsoe DVM, president of the Alabama Veterinary Medical Association.
4.7 million Americans are bitten by dogs, with more than half of all victims younger than age 14. In Alabama, approximately 7,000 people were bitten by dogs in 2012. According to experts, most bite reports affecting children occur during everyday activities and while interacting with familiar dogs.
Dog owners should review the following helpful tips and always remain aware of their surroundings when interacting with dogs.
If you are bitten:
- If the dog's owner is present, obtain proof of rabies vaccination and get the owner's name and contact information
- Clean the wound with soap and water as soon as possible
- Consult your doctor immediately or go to the emergency room after office hours
- Contact the dog's veterinarian to check vaccination records
Protect your family:
- Be cautious around strange dogs and treat your dog with respect
- Never leave a baby or small child alone with a dog
- Be alert for potentially dangerous situations
- Teach children, including toddlers, to be careful around pets
- Children should learn not to approach strange dogs or try petting dogs through fences
- Ask permission from dog's owners before petting another dog
In addition, the AVMA recommends the following behavior modifications and tips around household dogs:
- Carefully select your pet. Do not obtain a puppy on impulse
- Make sure the pet is socialized when young so it feels at ease around people and other animals
- Don't put your dog in a position where it feels threatened or teased
- Be calm. Always talk in a quiet voice and take "time-outs" when angry or frustrated
- Train your dog; basic commands help dogs understand what is expected of them
- Walk/exercise your dog regularly
- Avoid highly-excitable games like wrestling or tug-of-war
- Have your dog vaccinated against rabies
- Parasite control is important because it affects how your dog behaves
- Ensure fenced yards are secure
- Neuter your pet. According to the National Canine Research Foundation, 92% of fatal dog attacks involved male dogs, 94% of which were not neutered.
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