Tips to Protect Your Family From Dog Bites

MGN
Wednesday, May 21, 2014 - 12:03pm

Every year, dogs bite more than 4.5 million people in the United States. According to the Humane Society of El Paso, 2,000 of those cases are reported in El Paso, and half of those involve children.

May 18-24 is National Dog Bite Prevention Week, a public safety campaign that encourages responsible pet ownership.

Betty Hoover, Executive Director of the Humane Society of El Paso, said it's important for parents to teach their children the importance of respecting dogs.

Hoover offered the following tips for parents:

• Never leave children and dogs alone, always supervise the interaction
• Teach children to respect animals
• Make sure you properly socialize your puppy or dog so that it is comfortable around people and in different situations
• Exercise your dog regularly so it is healthy and happy
• Always keep your dog on a leash in public place
• Make sure you spay or neuter your dog because many bites occur when a dog is in heat
• And keep it vaccinated and registered with the city, as is required by law.

Local veterinarian Dr. Roger Freund, DVM, said most of the dog bite cases he sees at the Coronado Animal Hospital result from strangers going into the yard, or when friends and relatives visit the owner's home.

"Dogs are naturally protective, and so anybody that they don't know or they don't recognize, or they see as a threat, their first instinct is going to be to bite, especially to defend themselves or to protect their territory," said Freund.

Dr. Freund said that is why it is important for dog owners to be prepared to control their dogs.

"When strangers approach your dog, always have your dog under control, on a leash, or some way to keep him from biting somebody," he said.

Robert Gilliland owns three dogs that he keeps behind a fence that is lined with several 'Beware of Dog' signs. He said he also takes extra precautions when bringing visitors around his dogs.

"I train them; I make sure that they're on a leash. I make sure that they listen to my commands. I have a big kennel that I lock them up in when people come into the backyard," said Gilliland.

Hoover offered additional tips:

• Never approach a strange dog or a dog that is alone without a person
• Always ask permission of the owner before attempting to pet a strange dog
• Never approach an injured animal – find an adult that can help
• Never approach a dog that is eating, nursing puppies and don’t wake up a dog that is sleeping
• Never poke, hit, pull ears or tails, pinch or tease a dog

In the unfortunate event that a dog bite occurs, Hoover provided the following information:

• Immediately wash the wound with soap and warm water
• Contact your physician for additional care and advice
• Report the bite to Animal Services by calling (915) 832-4400. When Animal Services Officer responds to investigate, tell the officer everything you know about the dog, including the owner’s name and address. If the dog is a stray, tell the Officer what the dog looks like, where you saw it, whether you have seen it before and what direction the dog went.
• If the dog is a stray or you can’t identify the dog you may need to receive rabies shots.

Dog bites can result in citations from the City of El Paso. Animal Services can also quarantine the dog for up to 10 days, leaving the owner to pay all the fees when they pick up their dog.

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