Dog Bite Prevention – Part II
Parents and guardians need to be responsible for their dog at all times, without exception, and especially around children. A child should NEVER be left unsupervised with any dog at any time and dog and child should only be together when a responsible adult can actively supervise. This keeps both children and dogs safe. Education for parents and children is essential. It amazes me that adults seem to be more ignorant than children about how children should greet a dog.
The following true story shows exactly what I mean:
A handler was holding the leash of what seemed to be a very friendly rescue dog that had just come into the shelter. As I was standing in the room with the dog and the handler, a family came in with their six year old daughter. The girl approached the dog and, without asking the handler, took the dog’s face in her hands and kissed it on the nose. The handler asked the girl’s parents to take her away from the dog as its history was uncertain and the dog’s reactions couldn’t be predicted. The parents replied that the handler was not to worry because the child had a dog of her own and was therefore great with dogs. Now if the parents didn’t realize that they had just put their child in harm’s way by allowing her to greet a dog like that, there was no hope for the child. What they should have taught her was NEVER to approach a dog that she didn’t know without asking her parents if she could ask the handler first and if consent was given, to pet the dog appropriately and never kiss a dog on the nose. If the child had been bitten the dog and the handler would have been blamed when the real blame should have been with the parents. Fortunately in this instance the dog was very friendly and no one got bitten, but you get my point.
As a mother and a dog trainer I am dedicated to raising awareness and spreading the word about responsible pet ownership and dog bite prevention. I have set up a Dog Bite Prevention Task force, made up of professionals from all around the country, including veterinarians, lawyers, canine bite investigators and pediatric surgeons, each dedicated to educating the public and keeping people safe. I also utilize an excellent program called Doggone Safe to help me spread the word. I am proud to be a ‘Be a Tree’ presenter and spend much of my free time teaching bite prevention to kids in schools and other organizations. For bite prevention week, Doggone Safe has challenged its members and presenters to educate 50,000 kids during dog bite prevention week. Click here for more information about the challenge.
Here are some other great resources if you want to find out more about dog bite prevention:
- www.dogbitelaw.com: Dog bite statistics, dog bite law and victims’ rights via attorney Kenneth M. Phillips, a leading authority on dog bite law in the United States.
- The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) also has excellent information on preventing dog bites.
- Don't Lick the Dog: A children's book about safe handling of dogs.
This blog and my work on the upcoming Dog Bite Prevention Week is dedicated to Ashlynn Anderson. On February 28th 2010, Ashlynn was attacked and killed by a dog. Her grandfather Don Wing and father Ryan have set up an organization called DADD (Dads Against Dangerous Dogs) in her memory, to raise awareness and educate children and adults so that this kind of tragedy does not happen again. I have had the honor of meeting and working with this brave family. Even though attacks of this nature are rare compared to the number of dogs in the United States, one fatality is too many. May Ashlynn live on in the hearts of those you love her and teach families and children all over the world to be safe around all animals.
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