We bake cakes on their birthdays. We schedule their playdates. We love them like family. No wonder we tend to forget one teensy weensy little detail about our best friends. (Sit down for this one, friends) Our dogs are actually animals. We know it’s hard to hear. Our posh puppies, our cutest companions, have animal instincts at heart. Given the choice, they’ll sniff butts, eat off the sidewalk, and in a pinch, may even bite people. Woof Report was heartbroken to learn from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) that 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year. In fact, in 2006 alone, more than 31,000 people underwent reconstructive surgery for dog-bite related injuries. Worse still, 70% of bite victims are kids, and it is estimated that by age 12, half of all children in this country will experience a dog bite.
The statistics are nothing short of staggering. Fortunately, annual education campaigns such as National Dog Bite Prevention Week help to cut down on the number of cases. Studies show that bites in children are actually starting to decrease in the US. To take this success even further, just last week the American Humane Association launched the “American Humane Kids: Kids Interacting with Dogs Safely” Program. This first-of-its-kind dog-bite prevention program focuses on kids ages four to seven, filling a need for dog-bite prevention for younger children. “Most programs are designed for children over eight, but those who are younger than seven are most likely to experience severe injuries to the face, head and neck.” says Jane Greco Deming, Director of Humane Education for American Humane Association. The program avoids scare tactics and instead teaches consideration for the way dogs feel when their tails are pulled or food is taken away. Ultimately, the approach appeals to young childrens’ early ability to empathize.
Woof Report encourages parents and teachers to take the time to share these important lessons with their kids. Our efforts to educate won’t only spare our kids the horror of dog bites, but will help keep our doggie friends away from shelters and worse. Through fun games, activities, worksheets, songs, a coloring book and a live-action DVD, you can help prepare kids to interact with dogs safely at home and in their communities. The KIDS curriculum is great for classroom use too and meets the national standards of education.
Here are a few highlights from the program to share with your human children:
- Never approach an unknown dog or a dog that is alone without its owner, and always ask the owner’s permission before petting it.
- Never approach an injured animal – go find an adult who can get it the help it needs.
- Never approach a dog that is eating, sleeping, caring for puppies or has something it likes – like a bone or toy.
- Don’t poke, hit, pull, pinch or tease a dog – the dog may not realize you’re just playing.
- Remain motionless (e.g., “be still like a tree”) when approached by an unfamiliar dog. If knocked over by a dog, roll into a ball and lie still (e.g., “be still like a log”).
- Do not chase or run from a dog.
Learn more about the “American Humane KIDS: Kids Interacting with Dogs Safely“ Program.
Visit the CDC website for more information about dog bite prevention.
Read the American Veterinary Medical Association’s “What you should know about dog bite prevention” to learn what to do if you are bitten or your dog bites someone and more.
Thank you to Sandra, Kaley and Jake for the photo.