Dog Bites

Apr 8, 2017

Would this friendly dog bite? It's possible.
Credit 40Brown (Laurie Moy) [Flickr]

Dog Bite Prevention Week is April 9-15, 2017. Remember that any dog can bite if it is frightened or provoked enough.  Consider ways that you can keep your pet safe from any situation which could harm it or threaten it.  That's the best way to prevent dog bites!

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Several years ago I saw a news story about a family dog that was shot and killed by a police officer responding to an alarm indicating a possible break-in at the owner’s home. The tethered dog got loose and charged toward the officer, who had only seconds to defend himself. The dog had never bitten anyone, was good with children and a great family pet. But the police officer knew something that many pet owners may not understand - that even the sweetest, most lovable dog can bite. And this dog (probably distressed by the sound of the alarm) displayed every intention of attacking the officer.

National Dog Bite Prevention Week starts tomorrow, a time to remind us that dog bites can be a serious problem. Over four million people are bitten by dogs every year, and one of every five requires medical attention for the bite injury. According to the Insurance Information Institute, the average dog bite claim is more than $30,000. Standard policies for homeowners or renters usually include coverage for dog bites. But if your dog does bite someone, your rates may increase or the policy may not be renewed.

So how can you protect yourself and your pet from situations like the one in which the dog was shot by the police officer? Supervision and containment of your pet is critical to ensuring its safety.

Tethering (or chaining) a dog may not be the best way to restrain your dog in your absence for several reasons. The tether could break, as happened in this case. Animals that are ordinarily friendly may become aggressive when tethered. And if a stranger wants to taunt or harm a tethered dog, the animal has no means of escape. In fact, some communities prohibit tethering as a method for restraining unattended dogs.

If your dog cannot remain inside during the day, a fenced yard is the second-best option. Make sure it has some sort of shelter and plenty of fresh water. Neutering or spaying your dog will make it less likely to wander or attract other dogs.

And spend some quality time with your furry buddy every day. A well-socialized dog is a good neighbor and a great companion, when you’re speaking of pets.

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