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National Dog Bite Prevention Week: A Bit Different This Year


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National Dog Bite Prevention Week (April 12-18), and “May have more meaning this year than ever,” says Heather Paul, public affairs specialist State Farm Insurance. Since most dogs bites happen in the home, she expressed concern that with all family members home there may be an uptick in bites.

Dr. John Howe, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association added, “The recent rise in adoptions and foster is great news for animals finding new loving homes. But we should all be aware that stress can lead to dog bites. National Dog Bite Prevention Week focuses on education and prevention.”

Dog trainer Victoria Stilwell of positively.com and host of the upcoming TV show Dogs with Unusual Jobs says, “Most dog bites can be prevented with safety protocols:”

  • Never, ever leave a baby, toddler or young children without active adult supervision.

    Victoria Stilwell

  • Positive education for the dog, training dogs without fear or intimidation; as training with fear or intimidation could exasperate an aggressive response.
  • Avoid rough play
  • Give the dog a child-free zone, a place to “escape.”
  • Give the child a safe job to help care for the dog
  •  Be your dog’s advocate – so your dog can count on you.

Paul reiterated without education, the problem doesn’t go away. She pointed out that specific breeds are not the problem, alluding to most insurance carriers, unlike State Farm, blame specific breeds, even if the breeds aren’t correctly identified. “Breed may dictate what a dog looks like but not how a dog is going to react,” she says.

Dr. Howe stressed socialization of any breed or mix. “The process of preparing a dog to have appropriate interactions with people and other dogs without being fearful is very important”

And indeed, there does remain a problem, as 4.7 million dog bites occur in the United States each year, and 800,000 of those bites result in medical care, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Having said that, with 90 million dogs in the U.S., dog bites aren’t a daily event. Most bites happen within families, and to children.

Janet Ruiz, director of Strategic Communications and the Insurance Information Institute points out that in 2019 dog bite and injury claims went up 2.9 percent compared to 2018. The average claim jumped nearly 15 percent in 2019 to nearly $44,000. The five states with the most claims in 2019 were California, Florida, Texas, New York and Illinois.

Watch the video event which included Paul, Dr. Howe, Stilwell, Ruiz and Dr. Lesa Staubus, rescue veterinarian American Humane Association. Watch it here on demand.

Also, an American Humane Association free booklet, called Pet Meets Baby is free HERE as a PDF and offers lots and lots of tips.

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