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Humane Society offers tips to prevent dog bites to children

May 21, 2008

The week of May 18 to 24 is National Bite Prevention Week.

With more than 50 percent of the country's children under the age of 10 in danger of being bitten by their own, a neighbor's or a friend's dog, the Humane Society of Washington County is providing a series of tips called Bits Preventing Bites throughout the week that can be discussed with young children to help reduce their risk of being bitten.

· Tip 1: Never stare down a dog - this is considered aggressive to dogs and sends a dangerous message to the dog.

· Tip 2: Never tease a dog by poking at it or banging on its fence or enclosure.

There are more than 5 million dog bites recorded each year, with 800,000 of those requiring medical attention. Of that number, more than half are children. "Dog bites can be traumatic, life altering, and in rare cases, fatal," said Paul Miller, executive director of the shelter.

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"Children ages 5 to 9 years have the highest rate of dog bite-related injuries and almost two thirds of the injuries of children 4 years old and younger are to the head or neck region."

Statistics show that most of those bite victims are boys.

"Statistics show that as children get older they are less likely to be bitten by a dog," Miller said. "That indicates that as children learn how to behave around dogs they learn how to avoid being bitten. I advocate we begin early and teach prevention."

The shelter's complete list of Bits Preventing Bites can be viewed on its Web site at www.hswcmd.org.

The shelter would like to thank the ASPCA, www.aspca.org, and the Center for Disease Control, www.cdc.gov, for their assistance compiling the information for this article.

Visit our website for information on animal-related issues, directions to the shelter and information about our programs and services. The Humane Society of Washington County is located at 13011 Maugansville Road in Hagerstown.

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