From Hillsborough County Government Online:
Of the more than 2,100 dog bite reports received annually by Hillsborough County Animal Services, most involve the "family dog." Statistically, most bites occur to young children, the elderly, and service professionals (such as letter-carriers). Dogs bite out of fear, discomfort from pain or hunger, or to protect themselves and their territory.
To bring attention to dog bites, each May, 'National Dog Bite Prevention Week' is sponsored by the American Veterinary Medical Society (AVMA), Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and the United States Postal Services (USPS).
Dogs typically warn of impending danger through their body language, but adults and children often fail to recognize the signs. Any dog can bite, and animal experts worldwide agree that there is no evidence to predict the likelihood or frequency of dog bites according to breed.
In observance of 'National Dog Bite Prevention Week' (May 20 - 26), Hillsborough County Animal Services offers the following tips to keep pets and people safe:
- Never, ever leave a dog alone and unsupervised with children!
- Respect a dog's territory and space. Don't run at or rush over to greet and pet a dog.
- Do love and train, don't chain your dog.
- Avoid teasing games or use of rough play.
- Use positive reinforcement for obedience to enhance behavior and the bond with your pet.
- Provide your dog proper food, water, veterinary care, and shelter from the elements.
- Keep pets' rabies vaccinations up-to-date and County tags secured at all times.
- Spay and neuter your dog to decrease roaming and aggression. Hillsborough County even provides assistance for those who meet income guidelines.
- Don't interfere with dogs that are eating, sleeping or nursing puppies.
- Ask permission before petting a dog, and allow it to sniff you first.
- Keep dogs under control and mind leash law.
- Don't allow to run free and dominate territory. Remember, owners bear moral and legal responsibility for their dogs.
- Secure dogs away from visitors during deliveries or work by service providers.
- Avoid direct eye contact when meeting dogs for the first time, especially if a dog is nervous or angry.
- If confronted by an aggressive dog, don't scream or run. This will make the dog more reactive and give chase.
- Place an object (such as a bicycle or back pack) between you and an unwanted or angry dog.
- Heed and educate children about canine warning signs which include: growling, curling of the lip, baring of teeth, fur raised on the neck or back, and tails tucked under hind legs.
- Do not reach out to stray dogs or attempt to comfort frightened dogs by invading their space.
If bitten by a dog, wash the area immediately with soap and water and obtain needed medical attention immediately to avoid infection. Report all dog bites to Animal Services and include the owner's name and address in order to determine the dog's vaccination history. Report aggressive, sick, stray, neglected or abused animals to assist Animal Services' prevention efforts.
To make a report, obtain more information on dog-bite prevention, or to learn more about the low-cost Spay/Neuter Voucher Program for residents of Hillsborough County, contact Hillsborough County Animal Services at 813-744-5660, email HCASinfo@hillsboroughcounty.org, or log on to www.hillsboroughcounty.org/animalservices.