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National Dog Bite Prevention Week

Man and woman's best friend bites more than 4.7 million people a year, and key experts believe that public education can help prevent these bites.  The third full week of May is National Dog Bite Prevention Week, and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the United States Postal Service, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are each working to educate Americans about dog bite prevention.

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Each year, 800,000 Americans seek medical attention for dog bites; half of these are children. Of those injured, 386,000 require treatment in an emergency department and about a dozen die. The rate of dog bite-related injuries is highest for children ages 5 to 9 years, and the rate decreases as children age. Almost two thirds of injuries among children ages four years and younger are to the head or neck region. Injury rates in children are significantly higher for boys than for girls. (See CDC MMWR article.)image of boy with puppy

CDC is committed to reducing this public health problem by working with state health departments to establish dog bite prevention programs and by tracking and reporting trends on U.S. dog bite injuries. Dog bites are a largely preventable public health problem, and adults and children can learn to reduce their chances of being bitten.

Things to Consider Before You Get a Dog

Preventing Dog Bites

Teach children basic safety around dogs and review regularly:

A CDC study on fatal dog bites lists the breeds involved in fatal attacks over 20 years (Breeds of dogs involved in fatal human attacks in the United States between 1979 and 1998). It does not identify specific breeds that are most likely to bite or kill, and thus is not appropriate for policy-making decisions related to the topic. Each year, 4.7 million Americans are bitten by dogs. These bites result in approximately 16 fatalities; about 0.0002 percent of the total number of people bitten. These relatively few fatalities offer the only available information about breeds involved in dog bites. There is currently no accurate way to identify the number of dogs of a particular breed, and consequently no measure to determine which breeds are more likely to bite or kill.

Many practical alternatives to breed-specific policies exist and hold promise for preventing dog bites. For prevention ideas and model policies for control of dangerous dogs, please see the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Task Force on Canine Aggression and Human-Canine Interactions: A community approach to dog bite prevention.*

NCIPC Programs and Activities

Campaign to Educate Georgians about Dog Bites
NCIPC is funding the Georgia Division of Public Health to conduct a dog bite prevention campaign in Chatham, Bullock, and Effingham counties. During their first year, program staff used the Community Readiness Model to complete a needs assessment. In 2002, a random digit dial telephone survey to assess knowledge, attitudes and behaviors associated with dog bite prevention was conducted. Program staff currently are using educational materials and media outreach to teach children, parents, dog owners, health care providers and other adults about the risk of dog bite-related injuries and about strategies for preventing such injuries. Project staff will evaluate whether the campaign changes people's beliefs and actions about dog bites and reduces the number of dog bite-related injuries occurring in the three counties. Results from this campaign will guide future efforts to prevent dog bites and associated injuries and deaths.

Other Sites

American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)* 

US Postal Service*

* Links to non-Federal organizations found at this site are provided solely as a service to our users. These links do not constitute an endorsement of these organizations or their programs by CDC or the Federal Government, and none should be inferred. CDC is not responsible for the content of the individual organization Web pages found at these links.

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Content Source: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention
Page last modified:September 27, 2007