As the weather gets warmer and we spend more time outside, we also see an increase in the numbers of children (and adults) being bitten by dogs. The numbers begin increasing in March and the highest levels are seen in June, July and August.
In 2013-14, there were 2,522 dog bites reported to the Allegheny County Health Department. Close to 700 of those bites were to children under the age of 14 and an additional 500 were to young adults from 15-24 years old. Most bites happened while playing with the dog.
Here are some safety tips for everyone to follow:
• Always ask for permission to pet a dog and approach slowly.
• Let the dog sniff your hand first.
• Pet the dog under the chin or chest.
• Never bother a dog while it’s eating, sleeping, or caring for puppies.
If a dog is unfamiliar to you or chases you:
• Stand still like a tree and stay calm.
• Do not run or scream.
• Look down and fold your arms.
• Roll into a ball if the dog knocks you down.
If a dog bites:
• Contain the dog and assist the victim.
• Wash the bite with warm soapy water if possible.
• Call a doctor.
• Call the veterinarian and local authorities.
• Get the dog’s medical vaccine records if possible.
• Never leave a child unsupervised with a dog.
• Put the dog through basic obedience training.
• Allow the dog to meet and interact with different people in calm situations.
• Expose the dog to other animals, loud noises, and bicycles – anything that may cause fear.
• Do not discipline with violent or aggressive punishments.
• Keep the dog on a leash or in a fenced area.
• Keep vaccines current.
• Praise good behavior.
Dogs are members of many families, but they are still animals and they can’t always let us know when they don’t feel well, are in pain, or even just in a bad mood. Being cautious is always best.
For more information on safety tips, please visit www.chp.edu/injury-prevention.