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National Museum of Animals & Society Blog
This week (May 15-21) is National Dog Bite Prevention Week, an awareness campaign originally launched by the United States Postal Service to draw attention to the problem of attacks by domestic dogs on postal workers. Currently co-sponsored by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the American Academy of Pediatrics, the educational nonprofit group Prevent the Bite (PTB), and a host of organizations representing the plastic surgery and insurance industries, the event is now in its 17th year and is geared primarily toward educating dog guardians on how to prevent injuries to young children ages 5 to 9, the demographic most likely to be seriously and even fatally injured in dog attacks.
Here are a few statistics illustrating just how serious and widespread the problem of dog bites currently is in the United States:
The real tragedy of dog bites is that, in the majority of cases, they are entirely preventable. “Veterinarians recognize, while there are 72 million good dogs in the United States, any dog can bite if it is frightened or feels threatened, even the family pet,” says AVMA President Dr. Larry M. Kornegay. Unfortunately, dogs involved in biting incidents are often euthanized to prevent further aggressive behavior – even if that behavior is purely the result of improper training, mistreatment, or poor judgment on the part of the guardian or victim. The responsibility lies with the human, yet sadly it is the dog who most often faces the consequences.
So how can dog bites be prevented? What methods can be used to educate children on proper dog handling and behavior? What are the signs and cues that a dog is feeling threatened or uncomfortable and may be about to bite? Please stay tuned for our next post, where we will bring you safety tips and more on National Dog Bite Prevention Week.