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When Dogs Attack

dog.jpgDog attacks can cause significant injuries that result in long-term trauma, disability, disfigurement, and even death. With more than 330,000 dog bites resulting in emergency room visits for children each year, dog attacks are the second most frequent cause of serious injury among kids. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 79 percent of all deadly dog bites are to children. To reduce the risk for injuries and fatalities associated with dog bites, it is vital that parents, caregivers, dog owners and children become familiar with the signs of dog attacks as well as a few tips for prevention.

Signs of An Attacking Dog

Although certain dog breeds are more prone to attack than others, any dog- even smaller breeds- can become aggressive under the right circumstances. In most cases, however, dogs will display warning behaviors before they bite. For example, dogs sometimes warn their victims of their intentions by growling, barking or baring their teeth. Less obvious signs of an impending dog attack include yawning, lip-licking, raising fur or tail wagging. In many cases, however, some dogs have been trained to mask these behaviors and their bites can come "out of no where".

Most Dog Incidents Are Preventable

According to the CDC, nearly 4.5 million dog bites occur every year in the U.S. By following a few basic safety tips, however, the risk for becoming a victim of a dog attack can be reduced significantly.

  • Children should never be left unsupervised around dogs. Unsupervised young children are especially vulnerable to dog attacks. In 88 percent of dog bite fatalities that involved children who were 2 years of age, the children were left unsupervised.
  • Caution should even be used around familiar dogs. About 75 percent of dog bites are committed by dogs owned by the victim's family or friend. Additionally, more than half of all dog bites occur in the family home and when children 4 years of age or younger are victims, family dogs are attackers in 47 percent of cases.
  • Children and adults should respond to unfamiliar dogs carefully. Individuals should never approach an unfamiliar dog, and if the dog begins to approach, quick movements should be avoided if possible. The CDC recommends that potential victims remain motionless, avoid panicking or making loud noises, and curl into a ball with their head protected if they are knocked over by an aggressive dog.

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