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Veterinary Public Health


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Veterinary Public Health Program
313 N Figueroa St. Rm 1127
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Tel (213) 989-7060
Tel: (877) 747-2243
Fax (213) 481-2375
vet@ph.lacounty.gov
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The 2020 Healthy Pets, Healthy Families Initiative

Bite prevention

  

Background:

 

Pets can be a lot of fun for the whole family and provide many benefits. However, it is important to stay safe around dogs and remember that, in certain situations, any dog may bite.

 

Our program monitors dog bites in Los Angeles County (LAC) and we receive over 9,000 animal bite reports each year1. However this is just the tip of the iceberg. National surveys indicate that between 1 to 1.8 percent of the US population are bitten each year2, so it is clear that bites are under-reported.

 

Facts about dog bites in LAC:

 

  • Children 9 years old and younger are more frequently bitten by dogs3

  • Most often, people are bitten by a dog they know, not strays4

  • Many bites occur at the dog's home, but some occur when a dog gets off its property

  • Bites can occur when someone misread a dog's behavior or when dogs become too excited or fearful

What can people do to reduce dog bites in LAC:

  • Never approach a dog that you don't know

  • Always monitor children around dogs, even if it is your own pet or a dog you know. Children are frequently not able to recognize cues from the dog indicating that it's anxious or scared and therefore more likely to bite

  • Always keep your dog on a 6-foot leash when taking it for a walk. Maintain control of the dog at all times

  • Respect your pet's space. Don't startle them, especially when they're sleeping

  • Teach your children that strange dogs may not like them - not all dogs are friendly like the one you own

  • Secure your yard so that your dog can't go roaming and meet strangers

  • Properly train your dog to be obedient. Consult with your veterinarians or an animal trainer for more information

 

What VPH and our partners do to prevent dog bites in LAC:

 

In our county, anyone with knowledge of an animal bite should report it to our offices (reporting forms are online here) so we can rule out rabies exposure. Generally, pets are quarantined at home for 10 days. If the animal is healthy 10 days after the bite, there is no risk of rabies. The risk of rabies in local dogs and cats is very small but we still want to protect pets and people against this disease.

 

VPH and our partners with the 2020 Healthy Pets Healthy Families Initiative (HPHF) are also very active to provide education in our community education to prevent dog bites, especially in schools.

More useful information about bite prevention:

Three-steps response to animal bites

 

Preventing Bites in Los Angeles County

 

Bite Prevention Information (American Veterinary Medical Association [AVMA])

 

YouTube video - Dog Bite Prevention (AVMA)

  

How to Avoid Dog Bites (Humane Society of the United States)

  

Bite Prevention Education Resources (Doggone Safe)

  

Pet Training Resources (The Sophisticated Dog.com)

 

Free posters & flyers about body language around dogs (Animal Behavior and Medicine Blog)

 

Last updated: 03/05/2014

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