Dog Bites Are a Serious Problem
There is the old saying, “A dog is a man’s best friend.” Countless men and women nationwide find their dog to be a faithful and loving companion for many years. But not all dogs are cute and playful. A recent study revealed that around 1,000 Americans are treated in emergency rooms each day as a result of dog bites. A 76-year-old Virginia woman experienced the danger of dog bites firsthand recently when she was attacked by a pit bull. The pit bull had attacked the woman’s dog, a Jack Russell terrier, as she was trying to separate the two dogs. She was later flown by helicopter ambulance to Norfolk General Hospital. She suffered injuries to her head, but the injuries did not appear to be life-threatening.
This woman’s dangerous encounter is not an isolated incident. As mentioned above, around 1,000 Americans are treated in emergency rooms each day, with small children, the elderly, and USPS Letter Carriers – in that order – the most frequent victims of dog bites. There are more than 4.7 million dog bite victims annually. Worse yet, the number of fatal dog attacks in the US has been increasing. The yearly average was 17 in the 1980’s and 1990’s. But the numbers have risen since that time. In 2007, there were 33 deaths, 23 in 2008 and 30 in 2009. Dog bite victims should be very concerned about both the threat of death as well as the myriad of bodily injuries they can suffer, ranging from facial mutilation to small scratches. Victims should also be wary of the possibility of contracting rabies from an unidentified dog. Rabies is fatal to humans if untreated. So what can you do to protect yourself from dog bites? And what can you do for treatment if you are wounded?
Protection and Treatment
There are tips for both potential victims to avoid being bitten as well as for dog owners to be responsible for their pets.
Protection for Potential Victims
In order to avoid confrontation with a dog, you should not run past it. A dog’s natural instinct is to chase and catch prey. If a dog threatens you, you should not scream and you should also avoid eye contact. Do not approach a dog that you don’t know.
Dog Owners’ Responsibilities
Owners should consider obedience training for their dogs. Obedience training teaches dogs proper behavior and helps owners control their dogs in a variety of situations. Spay or neuter your dog. HSUS statistics reflect that dogs that have not been spayed or neutered are up to three times more likely to be involved in a biting incident than neutered or spayed dogs. It is also important for your dog to be properly socialized. Dogs that don’t receive enough attention or are caged for long periods of time frequently turn into biters.
Treatment for Injury
Control any bleeding from the wound. Once you have done that, clean the wound with soap and water and do not be afraid to clean inside the wound. Make sure and rinse all the soap away. Failing to do so will lead to irritation later. Cover the wound with a dry dressing and make sure and watch out for signs of infection. You should always call a physician to determine if you need to be seen. Your wound may require antibiotics, stitches or even surgery.
The statistics provided above demonstrate the serious consequences associated with dog bites. The 76-year-old Virginia woman can attest to those dangers. It is crucial to follow safety precautions when interacting with dogs and if you are bitten it is imperative to seek the appropriate treatment. By following the steps above, the threat of death, rabies and bodily injury can be dramatically reduced. A dog can be a man’s best friend, but some dogs can also be very dangerous.