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Dog Bite Prevention Week Kicks Off Sunday

Posted: May 15, 2013, 5:05 p.m. EDT


The American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Humane Association and other groups are working to raise awareness next week about dog bites and how to avoid them.

The effort, part of National Dog Bite Prevention Week, aims to educate people through the use of public service announcements and statistics such as:

• 4.7 million dog bites occur annually in the United States.

• From 2001 to 2011, dog bites were the ninth-leading cause of unintentional injury to children ages 5 to 9 and the 10th-leading cause of injury to children ages 10 to 14. In all, nearly 1 million kids ages 5 to 14 were dog-bite victims.

 Dogs
Wait, Ask, Invite and Touch (WAIT) is a four-step procedure for getting close to a dog.
• U.S. insurance companies paid nearly $490 million in dog-bite liability claims in 2012. State Farm Insurance, for example, processed 3,670 dog-bite claims and paid more than $108 million.

• More than 5,800 U.S. Postal Service mail carriers were bitten or attacked by dogs in 2012, up about 5 percent from the previous year. Los Angeles carriers suffered the most attacks, at 69.

• 27,752 reconstructive procedures were done in 2012 to repair dog bites.

• Unsupervised newborns are 370 times more likely to be killed by a dog than an adult.

AVMA, the American Humane Association and State Farm are part of a coalition that includes the nonprofit organization Prevent the Bite. Also participating are the American Academy of Pediatrics, the U.S. Postal Service, the Insurance Information Institute and the American Society for Reconstructive Microsurgery.

The coalition offers these tips for preventing dog bites:

• Remember the acronym WAIT. Wait to make sure a dog looks friendly. Ask the owner’s permission to pet the dog. Invite the dog to sniff the person before petting. Touch the dog gently on its back, away from its face and tail.

• Spay or neuter a dog.

• Begin socializing a dog at a very young age.

• Use only positive reinforcement when training or disciplining a dog.

• Stand still or lie "like a rock” if approached by a stray dog.

The coalition also advises not allowing children to approach a dog unattended, not placing an infant next to a dog, not playing keep-away or tug-of-war with a dog, not allowing children to hug a dog or put their face near the dog’s face, and not taking anything out of a dog’s mouth.

The campaign includes videos produced by Prevent the Bite, the American Academy of Pediatrics and AVMA.

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