Pets are People Too: Dog Owners Can Help Prevent Dog Bites

By KPTV Staff

When the weather heats up and the sun (finally) shines, more and more people are out and about with their dogs. Unfortunately, this is also the time of year that we typically see an increase in dog bites – most which would have been entirely preventable by the dog’s owner.

Dog bite prevention typically focuses on the potential victim and teaching them to read body language or avoid certain circumstances. We teach elementary kids to know when to avoid approaching a dog and parks department employees how to stay safe when an off-leash dog approaches them on the job.

This approach alone is not enough. Most people know to first ask the owner if it’s okay to pet the dog. This is where you as a dog owner come in. We are giving you permission to politely say “no.” That’s right. You are not under any obligation to let anyone touch your dog. Not the letter carrier, not the nosey neighbor, not the sweet kid down the street and certainly not your loud and annoying uncle.

Any and all dogs can and will bite. Dogs (even fluffy little ones or breeds known for being “good family dogs”) have a strong instinct to protect you and your property. They aren’t always the best judge of what might be a danger – for example, they don’t realize that the FEDEX person is bringing fabulous items (and maybe even dog treats) from Amazon Prime and not there to steal the toys and torment the family.

Take a minute to secure your dog before you open the door. Keep your dog on a leash. Politely decline requests from strangers. Give your dog time to get comfortable with company and space to get away if it becomes overwhelming.

In 2017 we responded to over 460 reported dog bites. Together with dog owners, we can reduce that number and help keep people safe and dogs out of trouble.

For more information on this or on our many other shelter services, go to The Bonnie Hays Animal Shelter is located at 1901 SE 24th Ave in Hillsboro.