DOG AND CAT BITE PREVENTION
- If you are bitten by a cat or dog wash the wound thoroughly with soap and warm water and seek medical attention.
- Report all bites to the local animal control agency for the jurisdiction where the bite occurred. You will need to provide a description of the pet and where you were when you were bitten.
- If you are bitten by an animal in the City of Henderson, call the Henderson Animal Care and Control Facility at 702-267-4970.
THE PRINCIPLES OF ANIMAL SAFETY
- Leave stray dogs and cats alone and tell the nearest adult of their presence.
- Always respect a dog's territory.
- "Be a tree." Stand quietly, still and and tall, like a tree. Tuck your hands under your arms and look away from the dog. In most cases the dog will sniff at you and then walk away.
- "Act like a log" if knocked down by the dog or already on the ground.
- These rules apply to wild animals too. Even though they may appear soft and cuddly, leave them alone.
WHY DO DOGS BITE?
- If you have been around dogs much, then you know that different dogs and breeds have different personalities and temperaments.
- Dogs have been domesticated for thousands of years, but are distant relatives of wild dogs that had to hunt for a living and defend themselves. Nature equipped them with teeth to do it.
- Dogs are intelligent and some dogs are territorial. When you are on "their" property, they want to know what you are doing, your intentions and when you are leaving. Some dogs are protective of their family or owners.
- Some dogs have been trained to be aggressive by their owners or have been tormented by their owners or strangers and are more aggressive. These dogs will challenge anyone who approaches.
Follow the guidelines below and hopefully you won't be the victim of a dog bite.
BASIC RULES TO FOLLOW TO AVOID DOG BITES
- Observe the area: Take a quick glance at all the places a dog may be- under parked cars, under hedges, on the porch, etc.
- Size up the situation: Is the dog asleep, barking, growling, nonchalant, large, small, etc.?
- Avoid signs of fear: A dog is more apt to bite you if he knows you are afraid of him.
- Don't startle a dog: If he is asleep, make some kind of non-startling noise, such as soft whistling. Do this before you are close to him, while you still have time and space for an escape.
- Never assume a dog won't bite: You may encounter a certain dog for days or weeks without incident, then one day, he decides to bite you.
- Keep your eyes on the dog: A dog is more apt to bite you when you aren't looking.
- Make friends: Talk in a friendly manner. Call his name if you know it, but never attempt to pet him.
- Stand your ground: If a dog comes toward you, turn and face him; if you have a handbag or backpack, hold it in front of you and back slowly away making sure you don't stumble and fall. NEVER TURN AND RUN.
- When at the door, listen very carefully for the sound of a dog barking: Keep your foot against the screen door, if there is one. If not, step back a few feet, because a great number of bites occur when the door is opened and the dog has a way out. Don't let the dog surprise you and don't believe it when the citizen says, "He won't bite."
- Protect yourself: Don't let the dog get behind you. Don't kick at the dog because this way you are giving him a target and you will more likely be bitten than if you stood still. If the citizen is in the driveway or yard and you are going to hand them something, don't shove it at him. Move slowly as a dog might interpret a quick movement as you hitting their master, causing them to adopt a protective attitude.
- Respect the dog: Until you know a particular dog, treat it with respect and be aware that it might bite.
- Body language: Never approach a strange dog head on and never lean over and offer your hand to sniff or to pet a strange dog. These can be perceived as threats and provoke a bite.
- A leashed dog may not be a safe dog: Don't be lured into thinking that a leashed dog is safe and won't bite. Dogs will bite while on a leash. In fact, if they are leashed it is probably for a very good reason. Also keep in mind that sometimes a leash doesn't hold.
PREVENTING CAT BITES
- Stay away from stray cats. Do not attempt to pet, chase and catch a cat unless you are equipped with the necessary tools.
- If you are holding a cat and it begins to squirm or struggle, let it go.
- A cat flicking its tail from side to side quickly is not a happy cat. Leave it alone.
- Cats do not always purr: sometimes they growl. Know the difference.
- When transporting a cat in your car always put it in a carrier. A cat that is scared and hiding under your car seat will possibly bite you when you try to get it out.
- Never pet a stray cat and always ask the owner if you can pet their cat.
PREVENTING DOG BITES
- A most essential rule in preventing dog bites is to stay away from stray dogs.
- Do not approach dogs that are leashed, chained, fenced, or in a car.
- Always ask permission from the owner if you can pet their dog.
- Do not disturb a dog while it's sleeping, eating, chewing on a toy, or caring for their young.
- Never turn and run from a dog, especially if it is threatening you. Dogs naturally give chase and try to catch their "prey." You cannot outrun something with more legs than you have. Even a three- legged dog has the ability to outrun you.
- Do not stare directly into the dog's eyes because the dog might perceive this as a threatening challenge.
- A dog that doesn't know you may see you as an intruder or as a threat.
KEEPING YOUR CHILDREN PROTECTED FROM DOG AND CAT BITES
- In addition to teaching your children the basics (listed above) about dog and cat bite prevention, teach them not to tease, throw things at, hit or kick, or scare a cat, dog or any animal.
- They need to be taught to be aware of their surroundings, responsible for their actions and to always be kind to animals.
- The Henderson Animal Shelter has available the Henderson B.A.R.K. Book (dog bite prevention workbook) for children in grades K-5.
- "Bite Free That's Me" poem is a fun learning tool for individuals, a classroom or group setting.
The City of Henderson Animal Care and Control Facility presents dog bite prevention presentations to children attending Henderson elementary school Safekey programs. And, if you are a teacher of a Henderson elementary class (public or private), a scout leader, a youth leader, etc. and would like a humane educator to present a dog bite prevention program to the class, contact us at 702-267-4970.
- Anything with teeth has the potential to bite.
- Never leave a young child alone with a pet.
- Do not try to separate fighting animals.
- Avoid sick and injured animals and animals you don't know.
- Leave animals alone while they're eating.
- Keep pets on a leash when in public.
- Select your family pet carefully and be sure to keep your pet's vaccinations up to date.
Visit the Humane Society's bite prevention site for more information.