YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – According to the Centers for Disease Control, 45 million dog bites occur each year in the United States.
A dog bite can be serious, with one in five becoming infected. The American Veterinarian Association acknowledges the risks and has designated the week of May 16 as Dog Bite Prevention Week.
Most dog bites happen at home with animals that are familiar to the victim. Men and children are also more likely to be bitten by a dog than women.
Several diseases can be contracted by a dog bite including: Rabies, pasteurella, MRSA, and tetanus.
In occupations where encountering a dog is part of the job, such as that of a letter carrier, preventative training is a must.
Mark Rivera is a letter carrier in Youngstown and was bitten by a dog. He said training for the United States Postal Service includes using the mail bag as a shield.
“I was lucky. It was a small bite. I didn’t miss any work. We’ve had a lot of carriers that were bitten so bad that they had to miss a lot of time from work, even up to a year. That’s how serious it was,” Rivera said.
In Youngstown, dog bites are up. Eleven bites were documented in 2015 compared to 7 n 2014.
According to a study by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, reconstructive dog bite repair surgeries have actually gone down about 35 percent from 2000 to 2015 from 48,089 in 2000 to 28,079 in 2015.
PREVENTING DOG BITES: (From CDC)
- Remain motionless (e.g., “be still like a tree”) when approached by an unfamiliar dog.
- Curl into a ball with your head tucked and your hands over your ears and neck if a dog knocks you over.
- Immediately let an adult know about stray dogs or dogs that are behaving strangely.
- Approach an unfamiliar dog.
- Run from a dog.
- Panic or make loud noises.
- Disturb a dog that is sleeping, eating, or caring for puppies.
- Pet a dog without allowing it to see and sniff you first.
- Encourage your dog to play aggressively.
- Let small children play with a dog unsupervised.
If approached by an unknown dog, “be still like a tree.”
What do you do if an unfamiliar dog approaches you and you do not want to interact with a dog?
- Stop! Stay still and be calm.
- Do not panic or make loud noises.
- Avoid direct eye contact with the dog.
- Say “No” or “Go Home” in a firm, deep voice.
- Stand with the side of your body facing the dog. Facing a dog directly can appear aggressive to the dog. Instead, keep your body turned partially or completely to the side.
- Slowly raise your hands to your neck, with your elbows in.
- Wait for the dog to pass or slowly back away.