Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Canine attack cause for a refresher in dog safety

While many people may not think much about being the victim of a dog attack, statistics have shown that they are on the rise. According to a recent study by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, there was been a steady rise in the amount of hospitalizations due to dog bites from 1993 to 2008, with about 866 people heading to the emergency room each day in 2008. With the jump in canine-related incidents, it would behoove people to be as prepared as possible in the event of such an attack.

A Cottonwood, California, woman recently fell victim to a dog attack, having to receive treatment from the hospital at least twice for her bite wounds. Sarah McClain was waiting for her daughter at the bus stop when she was approached by a pit bull, ABC affiliate KRCR reports.

She was waiting with her younger daughter, and it took her a while for her to realize what was happening. Although she suffered the brunt of the attack, including gashes to her arms and shin, she kept her child safe.

"I thought at first I was too close to the yard and that he could reach me with his chains so I pushed out into the street and pushed the baby stroller north as far as I could," she told the news source. "I started maneuvering myself south across the street when I realized he was actually attacking me."

In light of the recent attack, many local residents have decided to refresh their memories when it comes to how to stay safe in the event of a similar incident. Although the natural instinct may be to run away when approached by an unfamiliar dog, experts recommend doing the exact opposite. Standing as still as possible with your hands at your side is the best route to take. Similarly, if you happen to get knocked down by a dog, curl up and protect your neck and face.

"The dog will respond a lot to that and how intense the dog gets depends on how intense the person is reacting," local Humane Society captain LeeAnne Smith told the news source.

One of the most vulnerable groups for being attacked by aggressive animals are joggers. Running through a neighborhood or a park can put them in contact with a number of dogs, and they should take special care to maintain their personal safety. Experts say there are a few warning signs you can spot to take action as quickly as possible.

First and foremost, look at the level of their head. If they're holding their head high, chances are low that it will turn aggressive and bite you. However, if it's low it might be more apt to attack. Additionally, how it's walking can indicate aggressiveness as well, as a steady gait might be a sign of a trouble. As a final point, try to steer clear of any dogs that are chained up or on a rope, as they tend to be more aggressive than pets who get to roam freely.

Individuals looking for an especially effective way to stay safe may want to buy pepper spray to carry with them. The device can make it difficult for an animal to see and breathe, preventing them from inflicting any harm on you. Additionally, it can be used from up to 10 feet away so you don't have to get too close to the dog in question. However, be sure to practice with the pepper spray beforehand so that if it ever needs to be used, it is done so correctly.  

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