WFJ Presents: Protect Yourself and Others from Dog Bites

May 18-24 is dog bite prevention week. Below is information on dog bites and tips on how to avoid and prevent dog bites from happening. Let’s do what we can to make sure dogs remain our best friends.


There are approximately 75 million dogs in the U.S. Dogs bite about 4.5 million people each year, and approximately 800,000 people a year receive medical treatment for their injuries. Approximately 368,000 people end up in the ER each year due to dog bites (that’s 1,088 a day!). Dog bite hospitalizations have gone up approximately 86% since 1993. Getting bitten by a dog is the fifth most common reason a child has to visit the ER each year. 50% of all dog attacks are against children 12 years old or younger. If you’re a postal worker, consider yourself warned as the old cliché is correct: 2,851 postal workers are bitten by dogs each year per the U.S. Postal Service. The average cost of treatment for dog bites is $18,120.00, per the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Still, only 1/3 of 1% (3 or 4 people out of a 1,000) receive compensation for their dog bite injuries.

Some tips to teach children to avoid injury from a dog

• NEVER leave a baby or small child alone with a dog.
• Avoid approaching dogs you don’t know.
• Do not disturb a dog that is eating or sleeping.
• Avoid making eye contact with dogs.
• Do not pet a dog without allowing it to sniff and see you first.
• Do not play with a dog without adult supervision.
• Do not run away from a dog.
• Do not scream or make loud noises around dogs.
• If a dog knocks you over, curl in a ball and lay still.
• If an unfamiliar dog approaches you, remain motionless.
• If bitten by a dog, report it immediately to an adult.
• Avoid dogs with a yellow ribbon (this is a sign from the dog owner that their dog may be dangerous).

Things you can do as a dog owner to help prevent dog attacks

• Control your dogs, on leash and off leash, at all times.
• Always ask permission before you or your dog approaches an unfamiliar dog.
• Wait for an answer.
• If the answer is no, allow others the space to pass.
• If you know your dog is anxious or is easily upset around other people or animals, you can place a yellow ribbon on its leash to signal to others to give your dog space.
• Put the work in to train your dog.
• Neuter your dog.
• Make sure your dog is socialized as a young puppy so it feels at ease around people and other animals.
• Walk and exercise your dog regularly to keep it healthy.
• If you have a fenced yard, make sure the gates are secure.
• Treat your dog with respect.

What to do if you or your child is bitten

• Seek immediate medical attention.
• Contact the police. This is the easiest way to track dangerous dogs. The police will keep the records and quarantine the dog if needed.
• Contact the dog owner to see if they have home owners or renters insurance.
• Contact an attorney if you or your child is badly injured as a result of a dog attack.

What to do if your dog attacks someone

• Restrain the dog immediately. Separate it from the scene of the attack and confine it.
• Check on the victim. Call 911 if the injuries appear severe. Advise them to seek medical advice regardless of how innocent a wound or bite may appear.
• Provide your information to the victim or the victim’s family.
• Comply with local ordinances in regards to reporting a dog bite.
• Consult your veterinarian for advice to prevent future dog bites.

Attorney Michael C. Demo