4.7 Million Americans Bitten Each Year
Judging by the numbers it’s hard to believe that dog is truly man’s best friend. Dogs bite more than 4.7 million Americans each year. On average, every 40 seconds someone in the United States seeks medical attention for a dog bite. Fortunately, most dog bites are preventable through appropriate pet selection, proper training, responsible approaches to animal control, and education of dog owners and potential victims.
Children are the most common victims of dog bites, followed by the elderly and USPS employees. Approximately half of the 800,000 Americans who receive medical attention for dog bites each year are children. And when a dog bites a child, the victim’s small size makes the bite more likely to result in a severe injury.
“Dog bites are a very real threat and account for more than 40,000 facial attacks per year,” said Laurence Z. Rosenberg, board certified plastic surgeon. “Facial injuries include cuts, abrasions, lacerations and punctures. Many wounds result in disfiguring scars, and often the target area on the face includes the lips, nose and cheeks” In emergency room care, 75 percent of children are victims of bites on the face, neck and head compared to 30 percent of adults.
“In Tallahassee, we treated more than 15 patients annually with a variety of concerns ranging from severe lacerations to the face to torn limbs and crushing wounds,” he said.
The American Society of Plastic Surgeons has created a number of safety tips to prevent dog bites.
HOW YOU CAN AVOID DOG BITES
- Never approach an unfamiliar dog.
- Teach your child to ask a dog owner for permission before petting any dog.
- Never run from or scream at a dog.
- Be “still like a tree” when an unfamiliar dog comes up to you.
- If a dog knocks you over, roll into a ball and stay still.
- Never play with a dog unless supervised by an adult.
- Tell an adult if you see a stray dog or a dog acting strangely.
- Don’t look a dog right in the eye.
- Don’t disturb a dog that is sleeping, eating or caring for puppies.
- Don’t play with a dog without allowing it to see and sniff you first.
- If a dog bites you, tell an adult right away.
BE A SAFETY-SMART OWNER
- Never leave infants or children alone with any dog.
- Spay/neuter your dog.
- Train your dog in obedience.
- Don’t play aggressive games with your dog.
- Follow leash laws.
- Keep your dog healthy; an unnoticed injury can make a dog aggressive.
- Your dog should be part of the family. Unsocialized “outdoor” dogs are more likely to bite than “indoor” dogs.
Dogs bite for a variety of reasons. Some breeds such as Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, German Shepherds, Huskies and Doberman Pinschers are more aggressive. Other facts that increase the tendency to bite could include maltreatment or even the behavior of the victim. Everyone should be careful about bending over dogs if they are lying still, entering their territory, teasing or waking them or playing with dogs until they become overexcited. If bitten, request proof of rabies vaccination from the dog’s owner, get the owner’s name and contact information, and contact the dog’s veterinarian to check vaccination records. Then immediately consult your doctor. Clean bite wound(s) with soap and water as soon as possible.
The doctors at Southeastern Plastic Surgery, Ben J. Kirbo, M.D. and Laurence Z. Rosenberg, M.D., F.A.C.S., provide some of the newest, most technologically advanced cosmetic and reconstructive procedures. In addition, the practice provides a full line of skin care services. Drs. Kirbo and Rosenberg are board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. For more information about dog bites, scar revisions and plastic surgery options, please contact us or call Southeastern Plastic Surgery at 850-219-2000.