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Front Page » May 16, 2002 » Local News » Pet's companions assume liability for canine attacks
Published 4,889 days ago

Pet's companions assume liability for canine attacks

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The United States Postal Service is launching a week-long public education campaign aimed at preventing dog bite incidents.

Mail carriers are familiar with the potential dangers and have joined ranks in support of national dog bite prevention week, slated May 19 to May 25.

By following several simple precautions, Carbon County residents can ensure the safety of not only the public, but also the safety of the dog owner.

The Humane Society of the United States estimates that more than 4.7 million dog bites are reported to local authorities each year. Countless more attack incidents go unreported.

Dog bites can range from a relatively painless nip to a fatal mauling.

Dog attack victims account for up to 5 percent of all hospital emergency room visits, according to incident data compiled nationwide. Children are most often the victims.

Of the 33 Americans who died from dog attacks between 1999 and 2001, 24 of the fatalities where children younger than the age of 12.

Dog attacks are the most commonly reported childhood public health problem in the United States, according to national incident report statistics.

The majority of Carbon County residents may feel confident that their dogs won't add to the statistics. And the assumption that the trusty companion will never seriously harm anyone may be true.

However, if a dog does attack or bite someone, the owner could be liable for the victim's pain, suffering, and medical expenses.

Potential high-risk victims include neighborhood children, unfamilar visitors, electric or natural gas meter readers and mail carriers.

There are several ways to avoid liability, according to federal agencies. Reducing the likelihood that a dog will ever bite someone helps protect the owner, the canine companion and the members of the community.

Although dogs may bite for a variety of reasons, spaying or neutering has been shown to reduce aggressiveness.

Bite statistics indicate that dogs that have not been spayed or neutered are up to three times more likely to be involved in a biting or attack incident.

Lack of socialization, improper training, excitement and fear can all contribute to a dog attack. Even a nip on the leg is unacceptable behavior for a family dog, stress health and safety officials.

Suggestions to help Carbon County residents take the bite out of pet dogs:

•Owners should teach dogs appropriate behavior.

People should avoid playing aggressive games with a canine such as wrestling, tug of war or siccing the dog on another person.

It is essential for a dog to recognize the members of the pet's family as dominant figures not to be challenged.

•After adopting an animal, people should focus on becoming responsible pet owners.

For the entire community's safety, pet owners should never allow dogs to roam. People should make the pet a member of the family.

Canines that spend too much time tethered to a dog house or in the back yard have a much greater chance of developing aggressive behavioral problems.

•Pet owners should concentrate an staying on the safe side. People should help a canine become accustomed to a variety of situations.

If unsure as to how the dog will react to a new situation, people should exercise caution.

If the dog may panic in a crowd, residents should leave the animal at home.

If the pet may overreact to visitors or delivery people, people should keep the animal in a different room.

To alleviate safety concerns related to visitors and postal deliveries, Carbon County citizens should adhere to several simple rules.

•Residents should plan to greet visitors at the door when possible and find out what time letter carriers usually bring the mail.

•When an acquaintance, letter carrier or meter reader is due to visit the home, people should check to be sure that the dog is inside.

Keep the canine companion inside until the visitors have left the residence.

•If people need to open the door for a visitor, they should first put the dog in another room.

Close the door to keep the pet inside the room.

•When the dog is outside, people should never walk up to a letter carrier, meter reader or visitor.

A dog may think that the owner is being threatened.

•If children notice a dog running loose in the neighborhood, the youngsters should tell their parents.

In addition, Carbon County adults, teenagers and children should never, under any circumstances, approach an unfamiliar dog.

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