June 27, 2013Q. The weather is nice again and I worry about my children approaching dogs our neighbors let wander. What are some safe tips I might be able to share with them?
A. Of course, we and our neighbors get outside more, especially to walk our dogs. Fido likes the nice weather too. To be kind to man and beast alike, we need to be a bit cautious while we are out and about.
It seems grim to note as many as 1 million people each year require medical attention because of dog attacks. And, though not widely published, dog bites represent one of the major public health problems of children with over half of all children bitten by age 12.
"Dog bites can result in serious, life-threatening injury to the victim and can leave the survivor scarred and disfigured. Canine attacks are a serious issue," said Richard Swanson, former president of the American Veterinary Medical Association. "Fortunately, they are also a problem that can largely be prevented."
In addition to the tragedies of death and injury, canine attacks can subject dog owners to lawsuits and criminal prosecution for their pet's behavior. Insurance companies paid an estimated $1 billion in dog bite liability claims in a recent year, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
Surprisingly, most victims are bitten by dogs owned by family and friends. Responsible pet ownership and safe behavior around dogs, however, can "curb" this problem.
Here are some tips dog owners can follow to reduce the chance of their dog biting someone:
Socialize your dog so it feels at ease around people and other animals.
Don't put your dog in situations where it may feel threatened or teased.
Obey leash laws. Don't let your dog roam free or get too far away, even on a leash reel.
Train your dog to obey basic commands, such as "stay," "no" and "come."
Keep your dog healthy with the proper vaccinations. Control parasites, and always clean up after them.
If you are approached by a dog or if a dog approaches you, the following tips may reduce your chances of being attacked:
Don't run away.
Stay still until the dog leaves.
Back away slowly until the dog is out of sight.
Avoid eye contact.
If you fall to the ground or are knocked down, curl into a ball, placing your hands over your head and neck and protect your face.
Lazar is a 30-year State Farm agent in Grosse Pointe. Phone (313) 882-0600; e-mail at ed@edlaz
The Family Center, a 501(c)(3), non-profit organization, serves as the community's rescource center. For more information visit website