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Summertime: Beaches, Parties and Dog Bites?

It’s summertime in America’s Finest City! We look forward to the end of school, long lazy days at the beach and great summer parties. Unfortunately, with all of this free time and socializing, we also run a much higher risk of getting bitten by a dog, or having our dog bite someone else. It’s no surprise when you consider that there are currently more than 74.8 million dogs in the United States. Given these numbers, the likelihood of a bite occurring is bound to be fairly high. The most recent figures state that there are at least 4.7 million dog bite victims per year in the U.S. Out of this number, 33 attacks are fatal. Getting bitten by a dog is the fifth-most frequent cause of visits to emergency rooms among children. Many of the victims of dog bites are juviniles, with more than half of them being bitten in the face. Dog bite losses exceed $1 billion per year, with over $300 million being paid by homeowners insurance. Americans have a 1-in-50 chance of being bitten by a dog each year.

Given these statistics, a degree of caution is in order. Most of these bites are quite preventable, simply by using common sense. Teach your children not to approach dogs that they do not know without adult supervision. Even dogs that you know well can be less tolerant if they are hot or stressed. Children and adults should know the correct way to greet a dog. We need to show dogs the same respect we show humans when meeting them for the first time. Do not invade their personal space. Do not run straight toward them and expect a warm reception, Do not lean over their heads and force them to accept your pats on top of their heads. Every dog does not necessarily want or enjoy attention from every human they meet. As pet owners, we must respect the public at large. Nobody believes their dog will bite, until it happens. We put our dogs in highly stimulated situations, such as parties or crowded beaches, allow them to be petted and approached by everyone that they encounter, expect them to be friends with every dog they meet and then wonder why they become stressed. Know what level of public exposure is too much for your dogs and don’t put them in the position of feeling that they must defend themselves. By keeping your dogs safe, you will also be keeping the public safe. Enjoy your summer and spend lots of time with your canine friends. But always remember, they are dogs, not machines. They need down time from the fun, just like we do.

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