The Lone Star state is known for ranking among the top in the nation for positive reasons, but U.S. Postal Service workers beware: Texas is third in the nation for dog bites according to State Farm.
While pet owners claim that their dog would never bite or intentionally harm someone, any dog has the ability and unpredictable tendency to bite. There are a variety of reasons this may occur. State Farm states,
“a dog’s tendency to bite depends on such factors as heredity, obedience training, socialization, health, and the victim’s behavior. There are good dogs and bad dogs within every breed.”
The best defense for keeping yourself and the ones you love safer from dog bites is to be knowledgable about what may or may not influence a dog to attack. BARC animal shelter in Houston provides some guidelines to staying smart and safe:
- Look for the indications of aggressive behavior such as “wrinkled muzzle, teeth showing while growling, lips/facial muscles tense, hair on back standing up, dog freezes and holds breath, hard and direct stare, [and] tail up and held in place.”
- Be aware of your surroundings and stay alert.
- Remain calm if you are ever approached by an unfamiliar dog or a dog who exhibits any of the aforementioned indicators of aggressive behavior.
- Don’t ever startle, chase, tease, or run from a dog.
- Never leave a child unattended with a dog, even a family pet.
- Be cognizant of triggers for aggression, such as approaching a dog when puppies are present, messing with a sleeping dog, or challenging a dog with your body language (“making direct eye contact, facing the dog directly, or reaching out to make contact”).
- Under no circumstances should you try to break up a dog fight yourself. Use a hose or other long object to separate them instead of your bare hands.
BARC also provides some tips on what to do if you are attacked:
- Give the dog something else to bite instead of your body, and be sure that it makes contact with the dog’s mouth.
- If you are in an area that you do not have an object to substitute your body, you may need to “take the bite.” In such a situation, do your best to use your non-dominant arm or extremities.
- Once the dog has bitten down, do not provide any resistance by pulling back, as this may further excite the dog and potentially worsen the attack.
- If all else fails, “go limp, curling up into the fetal position and protecting your head and trunk with your arms and legs. Do not fight back or struggle, and do not try to get up until the dog is at least 20 feet away. Back away from the dog.”
- Immediately clean the bite site and seek medical attention, and don’t forget to report the bite.