“Seventy million nice dogs…but any dog can bite.” This is the slogan for National Dog Bite Prevention Week® which will be observed this month from May 17-23. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and other organizations are promoting the annual event aimed at educating people about preventing dog bites which are currently a serious public health problem.
Although some of the exact dates of the observance of dog bite prevention week vary, it is generally considered to be the third full week of May.
USPS Dog Bite Prevention Program
The United States Postal Services (USPS) focuses its dog bite prevention program on violent dog behavior that poses a serious threat to its employees. USPS reports that combined dog attacks and dog bites against members of the postal service in 2014 numbered 5,767. The postal service is emphasizing the need for owner responsibility in a public service campaign that provides tips to victims about how to avoid being bitten and also aims to promote awareness of this public health concern.
American Veterinary Medical Association Dog Bite Prevention Program
AVMA has posted information about dog bite prevention on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and podcasts and sites including resources for children, parents, pet owners, legislators and animal control officers.
AVMA shares these statistics about dog bites:
- Each year more than 4.7 million people in the United States are bitten by dogs.
- 1 in 5 of those people bitten require medical attention.
- Children are the most common victims of dog injuries, by far, and they are the ones most likely to be severely injured. According to the Center for Disease Control, dog bites are the 11th leading cause for nonfatal injury in children aged 1 to 4. They are the 9th leading cause for children 5 to 9 years old and the 10th for those aged 12-14.
- The American Humane Association reports that 66% of bites among children occur to the head and neck.
- The American Society for Reconstructive Surgery notes that according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 26,935 of the reconstructive procedures performed in 2013 were to repair injuries caused by dog bites.
Bite Force of a Dog
The measurement of the amount of pressure in a dog’s bite is known as the bite force. The greater the force exerted, the greater the damage. The larger the dog’s head, the more force its jaws can exert.
A number of factors determine the bite force including the breed of the dog and the circumstances of the injury. In 2009, National Geographic conducted tests to determine the bite force of several breeds of dogs. By comparison, a person’s average bite force is 120 pounds. Of dogs tested, the Mastiff had the strongest jaws and a bite force of 500 pounds. (The type of Mastiff was not indicated.) Rottweilers tested at 300 pounds and German Shepherds and Pit Bulls followed at 230 pounds of pressure in their bite.
Pit bulls are often considered one of the more dangerous dogs but they did not have the strongest bite force. However, no dog should be underestimated.
How To Prevent a Dog Bite
You or a family member can sometimes take certain actions to avoid being bitten by a dog, the USPS offers the following advice:
- Don’t run past a dog. His natural instinct is to chase.
- If a dog threatens you, remain calm. Don’t scream. Avoid eye contact and try to remain motionless until the dog leaves, then back away slowly.
- Don’t approach a strange dog especially one who is confined.
- Always let a dog see and sniff you before you pet him. Ask the owner if it is OK to pet their dog.
- If you believe a dog is about to attack, try to place something between yourself and the dog like a backpack or a bicycle.
For additional information about preventing dog bites, please download our free Ohio Dog Bite Prevention and Action Kit.
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