Preventing Dog Bites

By Jim Beasley
barking_dogs
Each year in the U.S., about 885,000 people require immediate medical attention for dog bites. Half of them are children, with seniors following close behind. This week is National Dog Bite Prevention Week, as established by the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Dog bites can be costly and dangerous. The Insurance Information Institute estimates that in 2014, insurers across the country paid more than $530 million in dog bite claims. The trauma of a dog bite — or any animal bite, for that matter — can be compounded by the risk of exposure to the deadly rabies virus.

Dog bites occur regularly in South Carolina, too. Last year, more than 8,300 dog bites were reported across the state. Sometimes, those attacks require medical attention for possible exposure to rabies.

Vaccinating your pets serves as a strong buffer between humans and rabies. Dog, cat and ferret owners in this state are required to have their pets vaccinated. It’s the law.

But the law can’t prevent dog bites. It’s estimated there are 83 million dogs living in U.S. households. According to the AVMA, most of the dog bites affecting young children occur while the children are performing everyday activities and while interacting with familiar dogs. It’s not just the wandering stray that bites.

To learn more about the AVMA’s National Dog Bite Prevention Week, go to http://www.avma.org/Events/pethealth/Pages/Dog-Bite-Prevention-Week.aspx. And to learn more about preventing the spread of rabies in S.C., visit our page at http://www.scdhec.gov/rabies.

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