As dog bite prevention week comes to a close, and as we take our families to cookouts and BBQs in observance of Memorial Day weekend, a reminder regarding dog safety is warranted. Most of us have heard about the unfortunate occurrence in Denver, Colorado earlier this week. A mail carrier was attacked by two dogs, strangely, on the first day of the U.S. Postal Service's Dog Bite Prevention Week.
It is reported that the female mail carrier suffered dozen of bites while trying to fight off a chow-chow and a husky that had escaped from a home. A neighbor came to her rescue also was injured. Both individuals were quickly rushed to the hospital. More than five hours following the incident, the mail carrier was still being treated for the dog bites.
The statistics are frightening: About 4.5 million Americans are bitten by dogs each year, and between 12 and 20 of them die from their injuries. Last year, more than 29,000 reconstructive procedures were attributed to dog bites, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
While I hate to hear of anyone associated with and animal attack, my main worry is that children are kept safe. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) is promoting a technique to teach children how to be safe around dogs. The CDC has reported that the rate of dog bite-related injuries is highest for kids aged 5 to 9 years, and the injury rates in children are “significantly higher for boys than girls.”
The “W.A.I.T.” registered trademark was created by the nonprofit organization: Prevent the Bite (of Palatine, IL). Prevent the Bite was created after Kelly Voigt (7 years old at the time) was seriously injured by a neighborhood dog in 1999. Prevent the Bite now co-sponsors National Dog Bite Prevention Week with The American Veterinary Medical Association, U.S. Postal Service, American Academy of Pediatrics, Insurance Information Institute, and others.
WAIT tessentially is a strategy to teach kids (Wait to make sure dog is friendly, Ask owner for permission, Invite dog to sniff you, Touch dog gently on back). Of course, the best course of action is to never leave a child alone with a dog and to teach kids to never approach an unknown dog. Even if the dog is known, an adult should always be the first one to touch or approach the dog.
Lindsay Rakers is a dog bite attorney who assists those injured in Illinois and Missouri.