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Sunday, September 22, 2019  

It's Summertime and the Livin's is...Dangerous!Published 9/19/2005

I love summer! Relaxing on the front porch, buying lemonade from the kids in the neighborhood, taking breaks from the usual routine, the flip-flop – I love it all.

But in another way, I dread summer because I know more children die from unintentional injury in the summer than at any other time of the year.

The emergency docs and other emergency workers even refer to summer as "trauma season" because of this phenomenon.

One type of injury in particular always increases this time of year. It’s predictable as heat August day. I’m talking about dog bites, or dog attacks.

Already this summer, there have been three major attacks involving children.

Nationwide, five million people each year are bitten by dogs, 60 percent of which are children, and about 20 people are killed by dogs.

Every 76 seconds, a child checks into the emergency room with a serious dog-incurred injury, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Dog bites account for more than one-third of all homeowner insurance claims.

A common misconception regarding dog injuries is that only certain types of dogs are aggressive. The reality is any dog, regardless of breed, if you don’t know it well, should be approached with caution, especially by children.

In addition, parents need to remember that "high-risk breeds" have earned that name for a reason. Statistically, children are more likely to be bitten by cocker spaniels, but when a cocker spaniel bits, the child will have a few puncture wounds.

When a high-risk breed bites, they are tenacious and don’t give up until they finish the job, which is what makes these attacks so horrible. High-risk breeds generally include the pit bull, Chow Chow, German shepherd, Rottweiler, Doberman and perhaps suprisingly, the dalmation.

The following tips are for preventing a dog bit/attack:

If you have a young child, don’t select a dog that is included in the high-risk group; never leave a small child alone with a dog, never leave a child of any age alone with a high-risk breed; if you own a high-risk breed, make your fence absolutely escape proof; never ignore a sign of aggression, such as growling or snapping, etc.

Adults should not roughhouse with a high-risk breed. When a child imitates that kind of play, they could become the victim of an attack. Dogs associate loud noises with trouble, so if you bring a new baby into the house, try to adjust the dog gradually to the baby’s crying. Neuter your dog. Dogs that are neutered or spayed are three times less likely to be aggressive than unsterilized dogs.

If confronted by an aggressive dog, don’t scream or run. Stand straight with hands crossed in front of you and covering your neck.

Avoid eye contact, since staring can be a provocation. Try to feed the dog something such as a purse or jacket as you gradually retreat.

Children should be taught not to bother a dog while it is eating, sleeping or nursing puppies. They should also be taught never to approach a loose or stray dog.

The only good news that has come out of this recent rash of dog attacks is that is has gotten the attention of some people who may be able to make a difference.

In the meantime, be on the lookout for potentially dangerous situations involving dogs and take action if necessary.

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