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CDC estimates there are 4.7 million dog bites a year

While dog bites don't always get the most media attention, it's important to remember that these types of animal attacks still happen, with children and the elderly being bitten the most frequently. To try and combat this, as part of National Dog Bite Prevention Week, which starts on May 21, the U.S. Postal Service, State Farm Insurance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Veterinary Medical Association are coming together to promote how to stay safe around dogs.

According to the CDC, every year there are roughly 4.7 million people who are bitten by dogs. Approximately 800,000 of those dog bites lead to a person seeking medical attention. About 16 people who are bitten also end up dying.

Right now, it appears that dog bites are on the rise. For example, State Farm Insurance paid out a total of $109 million for around 3,800 dog bite claims in 2011. In 2010 the total payout was $90 million for about 3,500 claims. Additionally, the Insurance Information Institute reports higher payouts with an estimation that insurance companies paid out a total of $479 million in 2011. The year before $413 million was paid out due to dog bite claims.

When looking at who is most at risk for getting bit by a dog, children between the ages of 5 and 9 are most at risk. The second most vulnerable group is the elderly, followed by letter carriers.

However, even though postal workers are considered an at-risk group in terms of dog bites, for this year's campaign, the U.S. Postal Service is planning on focusing on the risk associated with children. This is due to the fact that kids are 900 times more likely to get bitten by a dog than a mailman or mailwoman.

When it comes to promoting dog safety for children, the ASPCA claims a child should never:

  • Stare into a dog's eyes
  • Go up to a chained dog
  • Tease a dog
  • Touch a dog that is sleeping
  • Try to play with a dog that is eating
  • Pet a dog that is not on a leash
  • Run or scream if a stray dog comes up

Rather, the ASPCA claims the best thing for a child to do is to stay very still and quiet if a dog ever approaches them. Children should also ask an owner before reaching out to pet a dog and let the dog smell their closed hand first.


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