Dogs and other pets are often considered to be "part of the family" in many Maryland households and others around the country. While most owners can't envision their pets attacking someone, the reality is that dog and animal bites are actually quite common. As Dog Bite Prevention Week approaches, experts want to focus on how to keep bites from occurring.
Over a third of families in Maryland and around the country have a dog as a family pet, as reported by the nation's Veterinary Medical Association. This means that over 40 million households are taking care of dogs and, in many cases, bringing them inside their homes. Experts stress that owning a dog comes with a lot of responsibility, far beyond feeding, grooming and providing medical care. Since dog and animal bites are common and can cause serious injury, it is also important for owners to keep those around their pets safe.
Many families in Maryland have dogs or other pets that are treated like children, and while most people believe their dogs will not bite anyone, the fact is that some do. Dog and animal bites can cause severe physical wounds that leave scars for life along with emotional trauma. Significant medical expenses can also be incurred in a dog attack, and if the victims are children, they might never outgrow their fear for dogs.
Most people think it takes a bite from a rabid animal to come down with rabies. What many people do not know is that dog and animal bites are not the only way to contract the disease. Scratches, abrasions or even saliva from an infected animal can transmit the virus. Since 2008 in Maryland and all other states, there have been only 23 confirmed cases of human rabies.
According to the United States Postal Service, the number of dog bites involving its workers decreased during the past year, but the overall numbers are still high. The USPS reported there were over 6,000 attacks on postal workers in Maryland and across the country. That is 500 fewer dog and animal bites than the year before.
Imagine that you live next door to a dog owner, and their pet hasn't exactly been the nicest dog since you've known them. To be fair, the dog has never attacked or done anything vicious -- but the animal lacks that joyful demeanor that many other dogs have. As the months pass, you think nothing of the dog owner and the animal itself. Until one day, as you are walking towards your home after work, the dog starts barking and runs at you, attacking and biting you all over your body.