This is Dog Bite Prevention Week — a good time to consider the ways we can help prevent dog bite accidents. There is a lot of useful information out there for dog owners and others on how to prevent dog attacks. It is estimated that 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs every year. About 800,000 Americans who receive medical attention for dog bites each year are children. When a dog bites a child, the victim’s small size makes the bite more likely to result in severe personal injury.
A majority of dog bite injuries in young children occur during everyday activities when interacting with familiar dogs. With the safety of children in mind, this year the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) is introducing The Blue Dog Parent Guide and CD, an educational tool aimed at teaching children, 3 to 6 years old, and their parents how to avoid dog bite accidents.
Children are also frequently bitten on the face, which can result in severe cuts, infection or scarring. Plastic surgeons, just in the last year, have performed more than 16,000 reconstructive surgeries involving dog bites. There are three times more dog bites than there are brain injuries and still, there is very little information out there not only for community members who want to stay safe, but for dog owners about the importance of responsible dog ownership.
California has a strict liability statute when it comes to dog bites. Basically, it means that if you are a dog owner in California, you can be held liable if your dog attacks and personally injures someone — whether or not you knew your dog was vicious or dangerous. Several cities and counties have also enacted their own dangerous dog laws to make dog owners more responsible for their animals. A number of dog attacks in Los Angeles and Orange counties occur because owners don’t properly restrain their dogs and let them run loose in the neighborhood. That is nothing short of negligence and disregard for public safety.
Let us all be responsible and take the necessary precautions both as dog owners and members of the community to make our cities safer and do our part to reduce dog attacks in Southern California.