Dogs are wonderful companions and more than 46% of US households know this as they love and care for these furry friends. What many do not know is that according to the American Veterinary Medical Association, more than four million people are bitten by dogs each year, most often children and the elderly. The good news is that safety advocates and dog experts say more can be done to prevent dog bites.
How can you or your children avoid dog bites, what is your responsibilities as a dog owner and your rights if you or someone close has suffered a dog bite injury? Let’s discuss top dog bite prevention methods.
How to Avoid a Dog Bite
First of all, assume any dog can bite, not just breeds that are often thought to be more aggressive. Always be cautious around strange dogs, respecting their space especially when sleeping, eating or chewing on a toy.
Learn the basics to prevent dog attacks by reading body language. Victoria Stilwell, host of Animal Planet’s It’s Me or the Dog, demonstrates how to avoid a dog attack by reading a dog’s body language and what to do if you are attacked.
We have some more very important tips on in our newsletter, so please take a few minutes to read! And, if you are a utility worker, postal carrier or another worker who frequently is confronted by hostile dogs, you may want to watch this video showing how to prevent and respond to dog attacks.
Be a Responsible Dog Owner – Know Legal Rights
There is a lot you can do as an owner to ensure that your dog doesn’t bite anyone. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it is also your obligation under state and local law. Start by consulting a veterinarian on suitable dogs for your household. Then consider our tips in our newsletter.
Remember, laws governing dog bites vary by state or local jurisdiction, but in most cases the dog owner is liable for injuries caused by his or her dog. A smaller number of states require the victim to prove that the dog was vicious or that the owner caused the attack by violating animal control laws. Damages are typically covered by the dog owner’s homeowners or renters insurance policies. Your best bet if you or someone close to you has been bitten by a dog is to discuss all of your options with a lawyer.
Hot Topics & Reader Input
We want to end with some important information you may not have thought about as a dog owner/lover or as a neighbor/friend or worker who frequently encounters dogs.
- Do breed-specific laws stop dog bites? Laws have been passed across the country targeting breeds deemed naturally aggressive. Dr. Emily Patterson-Kane takes on this hot topic.
- Could your dog cost you your home insurance? Some insurance companies are denying homeowners insurance to people with dogs categorized as a “dangerous breed.” CNN’s New Day interviewed dog owners and insurers. View video.
Have you had a situation occur where your dog bit someone or have you been bitten by a dog? What happened? What do you think about breed-specific laws? Share your thoughts.