Important Tips for Preventing Bites from Man’s Best Friend
For Immediate Release Monday, May 21, 2012
While most of the time dogs really ARE man's best friend, they can bite if provoked or threatened. Each year, 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs; the majority of these bites are preventable.
Washington County Public Health and Washington County Animal Services have established a process to make it easy to report all animal bites. Last year, 350 residents were bitten by dogs.
"Canine rabies in Washington County is almost unheard of thanks to vaccination of pets," says Dr. Jennifer Vines, Deputy Health Officer for Washington County. "But, by law, all animal bites are required to be reported. So we want to give people the best service that we can with just one call."
Washington County health care providers, veterinarians, and citizens can now call a single number – 503-846-8388 – to report any animal bite. The call initiates an investigation to make sure there is no risk of rabies and to educate about important health issues related to the bite.
An Animal Services Officer will conduct an interview with the dog's owner to determine if the animal is up-to-date on its rabies vaccine. The dog will then be observed for ten days. In most cases, this can be done at the dog's home, but in some cases, the animal may be required to be quarantined at the shelter or a veterinarian's office.
"The best thing is to prevent the bite in the first place – and the vast majority of dog bites are absolutely preventable," says Deborah Wood, Manager of Animal Services for Washington County. In conjunction with Dog Bite Prevention Week (May 20-26), Wood offers the following tips:
- Don't approach a dog when it is eating or chewing on a toy.
- A wagging tail doesn't always mean a dog is happy; it can also be a sign that a dog is feeling aggressive or fearful. Do not approach a dog when it is holding its tail straight up or tucked under its tummy.
- A wrinkled brow and serious mouth tell you that a dog is worried or anxious and should not be bothered.
- A white half-moon showing in the eye is another warning sign.
- Keep your face away from dogs – do not hug or kiss a dog.
For more information on dog bite safety, visit www.doggonesafe.com.
Contact:Deborah Wood, Animal Services Manager