Education Can Help Decrease Dog Bites

In light of recent events that are happening in my hometown, I am going to touch upon some safety tips that can help decrease dog bites.

This past week, an 11-year old girl was bit by a pit bull at a local business after reportedly trying to take a rawhide chew away from it while she and her mother were visiting this business. The story is still being covered and details are still being released, but I feel strongly about educating children (and adults) about the proper way to interact with dogs.

Dogs, even familiar ones, can react unexpectedly to changes in their environment we might take for granted. A person moving quickly or unexpectedly or making a loud, sudden noise are things that might trigger a negative response from a dog.

The truly upsetting part is that the local media is now fixated on the story and have opened a can of worms by asking the question, "Should pit bulls be banned in New Bedford, MA?"

Ugh. Really?

I have much to say on the topic, but I'll keep it short. People are the root cause of issues related to animals. We are higher on the food chain and supposed to be the smarter species, therefore the fate of many, if not all, species lay in our hands. Humans are responsible for breeding the different types of dogs, and humans are responsible for choosing pit bulls as their go-to dog to display their "toughness" or to "earn respect." I see young men skulking around the city all the time with big, muscular dogs with studded collars on and a chain as a leash. Personally I think they are trying to make up for something they are lacking, if you catch my drift.

These dogs don't have a say in their lives or the destiny, and it isn't fair. But I digress -- here are some safety tips which I hope you will share with the young ones in your life to avoid dog bites or incidents in the future:

  • Do not approach an unfamiliar dog.
  • Do not run from a dog or scream.
  • Remain motionless (e.g., "be still like a tree") when approached by an unfamiliar dog.
  • If knocked over by a dog, roll into a ball and lie still (e.g., "be still like a log").
  • Do not play with a dog unless supervised by an adult.
  • Immediately report stray dogs or dogs displaying unusual behavior to an adult.
  • Avoid direct eye contact with a dog.
  • Do not disturb a dog that is sleeping, eating, or caring for puppies.
  • Do not pet a dog without allowing it to see and sniff you first.

Here is a handy graphic you may use as well:

How to greet a dog