Started by the Postal Service, the public service campaign was initiated to call attention to one of the nation's most commonly reported public health problems - dog bites - and offers safety tips, emphasizing the need for increased pet owner responsibility in the prevention of dog bites.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4.5 million Americans are bitten by dogs each year. Of those, one in five results in injuries that require medical attention. In the latest annual data available, more than 31,000 people underwent reconstructive surgery as a result of being bitten by dogs.
Kids, aged 5 to 9 years old are most at risk, but adults need to follow the advice below as well.
* Always ask permission from the dog's owner before you pet the dog. Why? Not all dogs like people running up to them or reaching out and grabbing . The owner can tell you if he likes people or not. Plus, if you ask first, the owner can have the dog behave himself so the dog doesn't jump on you.
* When introduced to a dog, let the dog sniff and lick your hand before you reach out to pet him. Why? If he sniffs your hand first, you know that he's seen you and is aware of you. If you reach out to pet him before he sniffs you, you may startle him.
* When petting a dog, never grab the dog's head or try to hug him around the neck. Why? Most dogs think this could be an attack, especially if someone other than their owner tries to do it. Instead, simply pet him on the shoulders, or scratch behind an ear.
* Never, ever reach through a fence to pet a dog, even a dog you know. Why? Dogs protect their property and when you reach through the fence that could be considered trespassing. Plus, the dog may want you to come play and may grab your hand to keep you there.
* Never bother a dog while he's eating or chewing on a bone. Why? He may think you’re trying to steal his food or bone!
* Never bother a mother dog and her puppies. Why? She will want to protect her puppies and may think you will hurt them.
* Don't wake up a sleeping dog. Why? If he's sleeping soundly you may startle him awake. He may bite because he's startled.
* Never, ever poke a dog in the eyes or ears, pull his ears or tail, sit on him, jump on him, or do anything else that will hurt him. Why? Those things hurt and a hurt dog may bite to defend himself.
* If a strange dog approaches you on the street, BE A TREE, don't look him in the eye and don't scream or run away . Why? A strange dog may or may not be friendly, so it's best to assume he isn't. When you stand still, you become less interesting to him. If you run, he will chase you to him that's great fun! If you look him straight in the eyes, that's a challenge.
* If a dog knocks you down, BE A ROCK.curl up face down on the ground, bring your arms up around your head, covering your ears and tuck your hands under your face.Try hard not to scream or cry. Why? If you wiggle, try to fight the dog or try to get away, he will continue to fight back and may bite you to hold on to you. However, if you play dead, you're no fun anymore and he may leave you to go find something else that's more fun.
To purchase the "I'm Safe With My Pet" story book, click on the image to the left. Coloring book available separately. - ASPCA and Safe Kids USA approved. This high quality full color story book tells the story of a family who finds a lost puppy, calls animal control, eventually adopts the puppy and learns how to care for it properly. Along the way they also learn about why it is nice to adopt from a shelter, how to read dog body language and how to be safe around other pets and animals.
Click on the picture (at left) to see more about the children's book "Dog Detective."
Description: "Dogs give lots of clues about how they are feeling if we only know what to look for. You can have lots of fun being a dog detective and looking for clues about how a dog might be feeling."