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An estimated 4.7 million dog bites occur each year in the United States, according to the American Humane Association. Being bitten by a dog is a traumatic experience that can lead to severe and long-lasting injuries, as well as fears. There is, however, safety measures that you can take to help ensure the safety of your family as well as visitors to your home.

Kids & Pets Safety Rules

The key to safety among pets and children is education. Children that know how to properly interact with a dog are less likely to be bitten. American Humane KIDS: Kids Interacting with Dogs Safely, by the American Humane Society, is a dog-bite prevention program for kids that can be very helpful.

Dogs should never be left unsupervised with children under the age of 2.

Children need to be taught to never kick, slap, hit, bite or pull on a dogs’ tail or ears. They should also understand that when a dog is eating, they should be left alone.

Teach your child to never approach a strange dog. Always ask permission of the owner, first, before approaching.

Dog Owner Safety Rules

At all times, dogs should be supervised in the home.

Spay or neutering your dog is suggested, as it can help to reduce aggression, particularly in male dogs. Female dogs, in heat, as well as nursing moms, are more aggressive than that of a spayed female.

Dogs that are trained and socialized interact better with other animals and people. Taking the time to train your dog is as important for him as it is for you, the owner.

Obeying leash laws is smart for the owner and important for the safety of the dog.

The Law – Dog Bites

The statutes that oversee dog bites vary among states. Several states hold the dog owner responsible for injuries, regardless of whether or not the dog has ever show aggressive behavior. This is referred to as “strict liability.” Under this theory, even if the dog owner had no reason to know that his animal posed a threat, should the animal bite someone, the owner could be held liable. It’s often difficult to determine if the dog owner was aware of the animal’s aggressive behavior.

Strict Liability Rule for Dog Owners

The dog owner is not liable, if the pet bites a trespasser.

If the dog bites a veterinarian treating him, he’s not liable.

In some cities and municipalities, breed-specific-legislation (BSL) – to regulate or ban certain dog breeds – has been enacted to reduce dog bites. This type of legislation is hotly debated as to the effectiveness.

Medical Treatment for Dog Bites

If you, or a loved one, has suffered a dog bite, properly treating it is essential. Photos are important for documentation should you need them later. If the bite was serious, seeking medical assistance is most important, followed by speaking to an experienced lawyer, if the situation deems it necessary.

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