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Dog Bite Prevention

 

Dog Bite Prevention

Injury from dog bites is a demonstrated public health concern in the U.S. and in Georgia. Recently, the Injury Prevention Section has joined county health departments and animal control agencies to implement a comprehensive Dog Bite Prevention program in Bulloch, Chatham and Effingham counties. The purpose of this program was to reduce the number of dog bite-related injuries in these three counties, especially among children and the elderly, who are at highest risk for this injury.

Injury from dog bites is a demonstrated public health concern in the U.S. and in Georgia. Recently, the Injury Prevention Section has joined county health departments and animal control agencies to implement a comprehensive Dog Bite Prevention program in Bulloch, Chatham and Effingham counties. The purpose of this program was to reduce the number of dog bite-related injuries in these three counties, especially among children and the elderly, who are at highest risk for this injury.

Dog Bite Facts

Dog Bites in the United States

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  • Approximately 4.7 million persons are bitten by dogs bites every year;
  • Only about 17% of dog bites are reported;
  • Almost 800,000 dog bites require medical attention every year;
  • Half of dog bites getting medical care were to children.

Dog Bites in Georgia: Bulloch, Chatham and Effingham Counties -

Based on reports from the health departments in the three-county program area in 1999, there were:

  • 152 dog bites per 100,000 population in Chatham County
  • 87 dog bites per 100,000 population in Bulloch County
  • 24 dog bites per 100,000 population in Effingham County

Dog Bite Prevention Program Goals

The Dog Bite Prevention Program provided an opportunity to 1) decrease the number and severity of dog bite-related injuries, 2) establish further collaboration among individuals and groups with a vested interest in preventing these injuries, and 3) provide education and opportunities for behavior change among at-risk populations. Components of this program addressed the following areas:

  • Promoting strong local ordinances and uniform enforcement  Georgia state code sets minimum standards, requirements and penalties regarding dog control, which, ideally, will be enforced on the local, level. Enforcement of leashing and fencing regulations vary among the three-county area. The program provided an opportunity for the local program sites to encourage enforcement of current state and local regulations, strengthen existing or enact new ordinances, and educate the community about the need for dog control policies and enforcement.
  • Achieving comprehensive and consistent reporting  The level of reporting of dog bites and the systems in place to collect and monitor this data vary greatly among the three program counties. This program promoted standardized reporting to a central authority.
  • Implementing community-wide education interventions – The program engaged the community in coordinated, multi-faceted dog bite prevention education programs to reach key at-risk populations, such as school-aged children, the elderly, dog owners, as well as professionals who treat or have an opportunity to prevent dog bites.

 

What can you do?

Community Involvement in Dog Bite Prevention

Dog bite-related injury is a community problem, and success in preventing dog bites necessarily requires the support and involvement of the entire community. Educational interventions have been developed specifically for:

  • Children
  • Parents
  • Current and future dog owners
  • Senior citizens and other adults
  • Professionals who play a role in preventing or treating dog bites, including:
    • Veterinarians
    • Environmental health specialists
    • Animal control officers
    • Nurses in schools and county health departments
    • Other health care professionals (pediatricians, plastic surgeons, and emergency room physicians and nurses).

Educational Messages

The Dog Bite Prevention Program's educational messages are tailored according to the concerns of each target audience, and cover the following general areas:

  • How to approach a dog with an owner:
    • Always ask permission before you pet a dog;
    • Hold your out your fist so the dog can smell you; and
    • Pet the dog on its chest under the chin, never on the head.
  • Identify situations in which you should stay away from dogs:
    • Dogs that are behind a fence, in a car, tethered to a post or object;
    • Stray dogs;
    • Injured dogs; and
    • Dogs that are nursing puppies, eating, sleeping or protecting property.
  • If approached by a dog, how to "stand like a tree":
    • Stand STILL;
    • Arms at your side; and
    • Look ahead, not at the dog - don't stare into the dogs eyes.
  • If attacked or knocked down by a dog, how to "be like a log":
    • Lie face down on the ground;
    • Hands behind neck, covering ears; and
    • Wait until the dog leaves before you get up.
  • Responsible dog ownership:
    • Socialize and train your dog;
    • Keep current with your pet's vaccinations;
    • Do not let your dog run loose;
    • Use a leash, especially when required by law; and
    • Spay or neuter your dog.