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Millions are Bitten by Dogs Each Year

Dogs are considered man’s best friend by many. But sometimes dogs can deliver painful bites. In fact, each year, millions of people are bitten by dogs. KSMU’s Michele Skalicky has more…

About 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year. Nicole Fowler is an animal control officer with the Springfield-Greene County Health Department…

"We take in about 100 bite cases a year, and that's been steady for the last several years or so."

Fowler says anyone, not just children, is susceptible to dog bites. She says usually, when a dog bites there’s a reason. Certain actions will prompt dogs to bite…

"Teasing or taunting a dog with food or toys, startling or scaring an animal, sneaking up behind it, approaching a stray animal, reaching into cars to pet an animal, not obtaining permission from the owner--you approach the dog, they want to protect the owner."

If you come upon a stray dog, never run away. Turn and walk slowly in the other direction. The best thing to do if you encounter a stray is to call animal control. If a stray dog attacks, Fowler says there are actions you can take to protect yourself and your pets…

"The best thing to do is not stick any arms or limbs into the situation if there's dog fight happening. If you can, try to separate it with a stick, humanely. You don't ever want to beat the animal--that will just encourage it to continue to attack. Grab a hose, water bottle or something. The best thing to do is contact someone as soon as possible so we can get out there and try to break up the situation."

If you’re bitten by a dog, you should call 9-1-1 or animal control immediately. And try to see where the dog goes since it’s important that the animal be captured and quarantined for ten days…

"It's what we call the rabies observation. It's a ten day quarantine period. It is state mandated. Even if the dog is current on all its vaccines including the rabies shot, it will be quarantined for ten days just in the slim chance that something does develop."

Fowler says it’s not just dog bites you should be concerned about. Don’t approach wild animals either, especially if they’re sick. And she says you should teach kids safe practices, too. Don’t let them approach a pet unless they have permission from the owner and teach them to never approach a stray.