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Mark your calendars for this year's Dog Bite Prevention Week

Did you know that this week is National Dog Bite Prevention Week? Every year the Center for Disease Control designates a full seven days to focus on raising awareness about the dangers posed by an animal attack. According to a recent article published by the Huffington Post, over 4.5 million people suffer from a dog bite injury each year-almost one-fourth of which require hospitalized medical attention.

Many dog bite injuries occur when owners leave their dogs unmonitored or unleashed in public areas. Every dog has their own personality and behavioral quirks which strangers cannot be expected to understand. Owners are responsible for either training their dogs to behave well in public or for warning people not to reach out to their animal.

However, not all dog attack victims are injured by a stray dog; often household pets can pose a serious risk to visitors, especially if they tend to be territorial. Animal experts advise people not to assume that their pet will automatically react to strangers the same way they respond to a familiar face. A dog's owners may be able to play and roughhouse with their pet, but the dog may view the same actions as threatening when interacting with a visitor.

One of the best ways to prevent a household pet from unexpectedly attacking a newcomer is to make sure that the animal is properly introduced to anyone who enters the home. Dogs are more likely to become aggressive and defensive when they are scared or uncomfortable with a situation. By taking time to slowly introduce a dog to their visitors, owners can ensure that their pet is not frightened or confused by the presence of this new person in their household.

Have you ever had a negative experience with an aggressive animal? How did you react to the situation?

Source: Huffington Post, "Dog Bite Prevention Week: A Time to Take Responsibility for Dog Bites." Sophia Yin, 16 May 2011

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