Matthew Weins, of Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles, works with Daisy, as he demonstrates how even smaller dogs can leap up and reach the face. (AP/Damian Dovarganes)
As National Dog Bite Prevention Week kicks off be aware that Texas has more than its share of biters. And remember children make up more than 60 percent of all dog bite victims.
There were 47 dog bite cases involving mail carriers in Houston during 2011, according to the U.S. Postal Service Top 25 Dog Attack Rankings.
No. 1 on the USPS list is Los Angeles (83 attacks), and No. 2 is San Diego (68). The other Texas city in the top 10 is San Antonio (39).
Texas also moves up to third place on State Farm’s National List of States with Most Dog Bites.
State Farm paid more than $109 million on nearly 3,800 dog bite claims in 2011. This is up from the $90 million paid on 3,500 such claims in 2010.
In Texas, the number of dog bite claims increased from 204 in 2010, to 219 last year. The slight increase moved Texas to third on the national list, just ahead of Ohio with 215 dog bite claims. California ranked first (527 claims) and Illinois was second (309).
The Insurance Information Institute estimates that in 2011, insurers across the country paid nearly $479 million in dog bite claims. The average size dog bite claim in Texas in 2011 for State Farm was over $23,000.
Safety tips from the Postal Service, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Society for Reconstructive Microsurgery, the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Insurance Information Institute, and Prevent The Bite:
· Never leave a baby or small child alone with a dog.
· Don’t run past a dog. The dog’s natural instinct is to chase and catch you.
· If a dog threatens you, don’t scream. Avoid eye contact. Try to remain motionless until the dog leaves, then back away slowly until the dog is out of sight.
· Never approach a strange dog, especially one that’s tethered or confined.
· Don’t disturb a dog that is sleeping, eating or caring for puppies.
· Anyone wanting to pet a dog should first obtain permission from the owner.
· Always let a dog see and sniff you before petting the animal.
· If you believe a dog is about to attack you, try to place something between yourself and the dog, such as a backpack or a bicycle.
· If you are knocked down by a dog, curl into a ball and protect your face with your hands.
Be a Responsible Dog Owner
· Obedience training can teach a dog to behave properly and help owners control their dogs.
· When letter carriers and others who are not familiar with your dog come to your home, keep your dog inside, in another room away from the door.
· In protecting their territory, dogs may interpret people’s actions as a threat.
· Spay or neuter your dog. Neutered dogs are less likely to roam.
· Dogs that receive little attention or handling, or are left tied up for long periods of time, frequently turn into biters.
· Rinse the bite area with soapy water.
· Elevate limb(s) that have been bitten.
· Apply antiseptic lotion or cream. Watch the area for signs of infection for several days after the incident.
· For deeper bites or puncture wounds, apply pressure with a clean bandage or towel to stop the bleeding. Then wash the wound, dry it and cover with a sterile dressing. Don’t use tape or butterfly bandages to close the wound.
· It’s a good idea to call your child’s physician because a bite could require antibiotics or a tetanus shot. The doctor also can help you to report the incident.
· If your child is bitten severely, call 9-1-1 or go to the emergency room.
· When going to the emergency room, advise the personnel of: your tetanus vaccination status; vaccine status of the dog; who the dog owner is; and, if the dog has bitten before.