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NEWS | May 12, 2008

Caution: Dogs may bite

By Tech. Sgt. Steven Creek 1st Aerospace Medicine Squadron, Public Health

The phrase " man's best friend" is a common expression used to describe our canine companions, and while it's true that owning a dog can bring enjoyment, there's a flip side: Dog bites.

With more than 100 million owned and stray dogs in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates about 13,000 dog bites occur every day and each year, 800,000 Americans seek medical attention for dog bites.

Almost half of these bites happen to children and can result in physical disfigurement, illness and even death.

Numbers as staggering as these have put the spotlight on dog bite prevention, and since May 18-24 is National Dog Bite Prevention Week, the 1st Fighter Wing Public Health Office is here to give you some tips on how to prevent dog bites.

When bringing a new dog into your household:
· Consult with a veterinarian to learn about suitable dogs for you
· Spend time with a dog before buying or adopting it
· Use caution when bringing a dog into the home of an infant or toddler
· Properly socialize and train any dog entering the household

Bite prevention tips for adults and children:
· Do not disturb a dog who is sleeping, eating or caring for puppies
· If approached by an unfamiliar dog, remain still; "be a tree"
· If knocked over by a dog, roll into a ball and cover your face; "be a log"

If bitten:
· Seek medical attention immediately. All military beneficiaries can be seen at the Langley Urgent Care Center or Naval Medical Center Portsmouth Emergency Room 24 hours a day for evaluation and treatment.
· Report the bite to the nearest health department and animal control office
· Be prepared to provide authorities with a description of the dog, circumstances surrounding the bite and the dog's owner's information - if known.

Always use a common sense approach when dealing with dogs or any animal. If you're ever in doubt, choose the safest approach possible. As with any health prevention tip, it's important to point out the main ingredient to prevention is you.

For more information on this or other topics, call public health at (757) 764-5252 or visit the CDC's Web site at