Revisiting the lessons of National Dog Bite Prevention Week

When it comes to safety awareness, April is an exceedingly busy month. That's because in addition to the entire month being designated National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, the week of the 3-7 was National Work Zone Awareness Week and the week of the 9-15 was National Dog Bite Prevention Week.

While these are all extremely important safety issues meriting special attention, it can understandably prove to be difficult to keep track of them all. However, given that more people are now going to be outside owing to the return of spring and the fact that estimates show there are now close to 70 million dogs living in U.S. households, it's perhaps worthwhile to revisit some of the lessons of National Dog Bite Prevention Week.

In the event you question the need for such an exercise, consider the following:

  • More than 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs here in the U.S. every year
  • Roughly 20 percent of all dog bite victims require medical attention
  • Children are the most common dog bite victim followed by senior citizens
  • 26,935 major reconstructive procedures had to be performed to repair dog bite damage in 2013 alone

All of this raises the question as to what dog owners can -- and should do -- to limit the possibility of their pet nipping, biting or even attacking.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, some simple steps dog owners can take in this regard include:

  • Conducting the necessary research before getting a dog, and then selecting a breed that proves to be the best match based on lifestyle, temperament, etc.
  • Socializing their dog so that he or she becomes accustomed to being around people and other dogs, and avoiding scenarios that might be unnerving or threatening
  • Investing the necessary time into training their dog to obey basic commands
  • Using a leash, and installing fences or gates
  • Learning to recognize when their dog might be experiencing stress or discomfort, and extricating them from the premises

As for those who are bitten by dogs, the AVMA indicates victims should always seek immediate medical treatment and, when permissible, contact authorities to inform them of the incident and provide the necessary details.

If you've suffered serious injuries in a dog attack -- lacerations, puncture wounds, scarring, psychological trauma, etc. -- consider speaking with a skilled legal professional who can explain the law, answer your questions and provide solutions.

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