CHICAGO – Man’s best friend bites more than 4.7 million people a year and key experts believe that public education can help prevent these bites.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have teamed up for National Dog Bite Prevention Week, May 19-25, to educate Americans about dog-bite prevention.

“We are dedicated to the protection of animal and human health and committed to ensuring that relationships between people and dogs benefit both species,” said AVMA President Dr. James H. Brandt. “This is easily accomplished when dog owners take the time to responsibly own and socialize their dogs.”

Dog owners need to keep their dogs healthy and follow leash laws. In addition, dog owners should socialize their dogs to feel at ease around people and other animals and never put their dogs in situations where they are threatened or teased.

“Plastic surgeons repair devastating wounds from thousands of dog attacks every year-most attacks can be prevented. With the recent attention given to the issue from the deadly attack in San Francisco, it’s time dog owners, parents and all adults learn how to prevent dog bites,” reported ASPS President Edward Luce, MD. “Our partnership with the AVMA and the CDC to promote dog-bite prevention is more important than ever.”

“As many as 800,000 people, more than half of them children, require medical attention for dog bites each year and about a dozen people die each year from dog bite injuries,” said Sue Binder, MD, CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control director. “CDC is committed to reducing this public health problem by working with state health departments to establish dog bite prevention programs and by tracking and reporting trends on U.S. dog bite injuries. Dog bites are a largely preventable public health problem and we are pleased to join with ASPS and AVMA in support of National Dog Bite Prevention Week. Adults and children can learn to reduce their chances of being bitten.”

The AVMA, ASPS, and CDC remind parents to teach their children to never approach unfamiliar dogs, avoid direct eye contact with dogs and never disturb a dog that is sleeping, eating, or caring for puppies. Children should be taught to stand still “like a tree” if approached by a strange dog. If knocked down the child should curl into a ball and place their hands over their head and neck to protect their face. If a child is severely bitten by a dog, parents should ask the emergency room physician to call a plastic surgeon certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, ensuring that the doctor is qualified to perform reconstructive and cosmetic plastic surgery on the face and all areas of the body.

“We are pleased to join the ASPS and the CDC in promoting National Dog Bite Prevention Week. Dog bites can cause serious, life-threatening injuries. Responsible ownership and appropriate behavior around dogs are important to the well-being of dogs and people,” said Dr. Brandt. “Fortunately, most dog bites can be prevented. There are approximately 52 million GOOD dogs in the United States, dogs who serve as wonderful companions.”

A comprehensive report, “A community approach to dog bite prevention,” (.pdf) is available on the AVMA Web site, www.avma.org, or single printed copies may be obtained directly from the AVMA at no charge. The AVMA is pleased to support this report with educational materials, including a brochure “Don’t worry, they won’t bite,” also available on the AVMA’s Web site.

More information about dog bite injuries and additional dog bite prevention tips can be found at the CDC Web site: www.cdc.gov/safeusa/dogs/dogs.htm.

The ASPS has long been a vocal advocate for dog-bite prevention. Through its “Beware the Bite!” campaign the ASPS has helped bring exposure to this critical healthcare issue. To download “Beware the Bite!” program information including a children’s activity sheet visit the ASPS Web site at www.plasticsurgery.org.

The AVMA, founded in 1863, is the oldest and largest veterinary medical organization in the world. More than 67,000 member veterinarians are engaged in a wide variety of professional activities. AVMA members are dedicated to advancing the science and art of veterinary medicine including its relationship to public health and agriculture. Visit the AVMA Web site at www.avma.org to learn more about veterinary medicine, animal care and to access up-to-date information on the association’s issues, policies and activities.

The ASPS, founded in 1931, is the largest plastic surgery organization in the world and the foremost authority on cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery. The ASPS represents physicians certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) or the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. For referrals to ABPS?certified plastic surgeons in your area and to learn more about cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery, call ASPS at (888) 4-PLASTIC (888-475-2784) or visit www.plasticsurgery.org.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) protects people’s health and safety by preventing and controlling diseases and injuries; enhances health decisions by providing credible information on critical health issues; and promotes healthy living through strong partnerships with local, national, and international organizations.



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