Dog Bite Prevention and Statistics

Dog Bite Facts:Dog bite prevention

  • Each year, more than 4.5 million people in the U.S. are bitten by dogs.
  • Almost 1 in 5 people bitten by dogs require medical attention.
  • Every year, more than 800,000 Americans receive medical attention for dog bites; at least half of them are children.
  • Children are, by far, the most common victims of dog bites and are far more likely to be severely injured.
  • Most dog bites affecting young children occur during everyday activities and while interacting with familiar dogs.
  • Senior citizens are the second most common dog bite victims.

There are many things you can do to avoid dog bites, ranging from properly training and socializing your pet to educating your children on how – or if – they should approach a dog. Information and education are the best solutions for this public health crisis.

May Brings National Dog Bite Prevention Week®!

The third full week of May is celebrated every year as National Dog Bite Prevention Week®. For 2016, the dates are May 15-21. Visit the National Dog Bite Prevention Week® page for more information and resources to educate people about dog bite prevention.


Useful Links

The following AVMA resources can help you learn more about dog bite prevention:

For veterinarians, legislators and animal control officers:

Socialization of Dogs and Cats
Get good information to teach clients about socialization, including free client handouts for new puppy and kitten owners, plus a socialization literature review and other resources.

Literature Review: The Role of Breed in Dog Bite Risk and Prevention
This backgrounder reviews and provides scientific context on dog breeds and their purported tendencies to bite.

Client Brochure: What you should know about dog bite prevention
This informative brochure offers tips on how to avoid being bitten, as well as what to do if you are bitten by a dog. It also addresses what you need to do if your dog bites someone.

Client Brochure: What you should know about rabies
This client-ready brochure explains all the basics, including the importance of vaccination against rabies, signs of rabies in animals, what to do if a person or pet is bitten, and much more. .

A Community Approach to Dog Bite Prevention (PDF)
The American Veterinary Medical Association Task Force on Canine Aggression and Human-Canine Interactions has produced this report intended to help state and local leaders develop effective dog bite prevention programs in their communities.

Why Breed-specific Legislation Is not the Answer
This article and our other resources about breed-specific legislationdesribe why stereotype-based laws are not the answer to dog bite problems.

For parents and pet owners:

Socialization of Dogs and Cats
Adding a dog to your family is wonderful and exciting. Learn how to socialize your pet so that everyone – both human and canine – has the best possible experience.

The Blue Dog Parent Guide and CD
This innovative dog bite prevention program is designed to help parents and children safely interact with dogs both inside and outside their home. The program is geared toward children from 3 to 6 years old. It’s the only dog bite educational tool scientifically proven to help young children learn behaviors that can keep them safe.

Rabies and Your Pet
Rabies is a deadly disease that is transmitted to people through a bite. Rabies vaccinations for dogs are an excellent defense against this disease, as many times families are exposed to rabies after an unvaccinated pet dog is bitten by a rabid wild animal.

For children:

Bilingual Dog Bite Prevention activity/coloring book

Bilingual Dog Bite Prevention activity/coloring book
Teach children about different ways to avoid dog bites, by educating them on how, or if, they should approach a dog. A creative tool for use all year, including during Dog Bite Prevention week in May.

Articles about Preventing Dog Bites

Read, learn, and feel free to share these articles to educate people about dog bite prevention.

AVMA Podcasts Audio icon

Victoria Stilwell Shares Tips to Stop Dogs From Biting

Preventing Dog Bites: an Interview with Dr. Gregory Hammer

Dog Bite Prevention: Sensible Advice

Handling an Injured Pet

Other Dog Bite and Dog Bite Prevention Resources:

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) Statistical Brief #101: Emergency Department Visits and Inpatient Stays Involving Dog Bites, 2008. (PDF)

American Academy of Pediatrics – Healthy Children Radio: Dog Bites

American Society of Plastic Surgeons – Dog Bite Information

American Society of Maxillofacial Surgeons

American Society for Reconstructive Microsurgery

Courtesy of….. AVMA

Dog Bite Prevention

While dogs can be a wonderful addition to most families, it is important that adults and children are taught how to behave around them.

The Vanderburgh Humane Society Humane Education Department offers a Bite Prevention program that is available to schools and clubs. To schedule an education program contact: Cyndi Donley at (812) 426-2563 ext. 206.

Whether you are thinking about getting a pet or you simply want your family to be prepared in the event of a random attack, the following tips can help:

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Veterinary Medical Association:

*Every 40 seconds someone in the United States seeks medical attention for a dog bite-related injury.
*Dog attacks cause 4.5 million injuries annually, 800,000 of which require medical attention.
*At least 25 different breeds of dogs have been involved in the 238 dog bite-related fatalities in the United States.
*Pit bulls and rottweilers account for over half of these deaths.
*24% of human deaths involve unrestrained dogs off of their owners’ property.
*58% of human deaths involved unrestrained dogs on their owners’ property.

Dogs can be a danger to children! What parents should know.

*Children under 15 years of age are the most common victims, making up approximately 70% of all dog bite victims.
*Dog bites are a greater health problem for children than measles, mumps, and whooping cough combined.
*Young boys between the ages of five and nine are the most frequent victims.

Breed-specific legislation

These alarming statistics have caused many communities across the country to enact breed-specific legislation that prohibits people from owning some breeds of dogs, such as pit bulls. American Humane understands that any breed of dog can bite, and as such, believes that breed-specific legislation does not effectively protect the community from dangerous animals. Legislation banning particular breeds can unnecessarily discriminate against dogs that are not dangerous, and does little to protect the community from dog bite incidents. Such legislation can often have unintended consequences, such as black market interest, indiscriminant breeding practices, and subsequent overpopulation issues. Additionally, there can be confusion when dealing with “mixed-breed” dogs, which can make legislation difficult to enforce. Therefore, American Humane supports local legislation to protect communities from dangerous animals, but does not advocate laws that target specific breeds of dogs.

The pit bull is a type of dog bred for fighting, not a specific breed. Responsibly bred and owned, the American Staffordshire Terrier and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier — often referred to as pit bulls — are not fighting dogs.

Avoid being bitten

There are steps individuals can take to protect themselves against being bitten by a dog.

*Never approach a dog you don’t know or a dog that is alone without its owner, especially if the dog is behind a fence, tied with a rope or chain, or in a parked car.
*Never approach a dog that is eating, sleeping, or guarding something. Dogs naturally guard their babies, food, bones, and toys.
*Never chase or tease dogs. Don’t poke, hit, pull, or pinch a dog.
*Never approach a dog (or any animal) that is injured.
*Always ask the owner’s permission before petting a dog.
*NEVER leave a baby or small child alone with a dog.
*When approached by a strange dog:
*Do not run away. Dogs have a natural instinct to chase and catch things.
*Do not make eye contact with the dog.
*Stand very still like a statue with your arms at your sides, or back away slowly and quietly.
*In a loud, commanding voice, tell the dog to “go away.”
*If you are attacked, give the dog an object, such as a jacket or backpack to bite or chew on.
*If you fall or are knocked to the ground:
*Curl into a ball.
*Protect your face by covering your head and neck.
*Put your hands over your ears.

Prevent dog attacks: What can pet owners do?

*Choose your dog carefully. Select a breed or type of dog that is appropriate for your family and home.
*Socialize your dog. Be sure your dog interacts with all members of the family, as well as people outside the family and with other animals.
*License your dog, obey leash laws, and take care to properly fence yards. Dogs that are allowed to roam loose outside the yard expand their “territory,” and will often defend it aggressively.
*Neuter your dog. Neutering reduces aggression, especially in males. Un-neutered dogs are more than 2.6 times more likely to bite than neutered dogs.
*Train your dog. Basic obedience training is as important for the owner as it is for the dog.
*Maintain your dog’s health. Not only is it the right thing for the dog, but it also reduces bite responses caused by pain or irritability.
*Be sure your dog is vaccinated for rabies and other diseases.
*Provide your dog with adequate food, shelter, exercise, and affection. Tethering or chaining dogs makes them feel vulnerable and increases their aggression.
*Don’t play aggressive games with your dog.

Credit to the American Humane Association for parts of this article.

Courtesy of….. vhslifesaver

Prevent the Bite….


American Veterinary Medical Association: National Dog Bite Prevention Week Landing Page

Positively Victoria Stilwell: Born and raised in Wimbledon, England, Victoria Stilwell is one of the world’s most recognized and respected dog trainers. She is best known for her role as the star of Animal Planet’s hit TV series It’s Me or the Dog, through which she is able to share her insight and passion for positive reinforcement dog training. She joins Prevent The Bite as a coalition member for National Dog Bite Prevention Week, along with the American Veterinary Medical Association, U.S. Postal Service, American Academy of Pediatrics, Insurance Information Institute, State Farm Insurance, American Humane Association and the American Society for Reconstructive Microsurgery, the third week in May.

American Academy of Pediatrics: What You Should Know About Dog Bite Prevention handout (PDF)

American Society of Plastic Surgeons: Excellent information, as well as children’s activity sheets.

Fresh Start Surgical Gifts: Fresh Start Surgical Gifts provides free reconstructive plastic surgery and related medical services to disadvantaged children and young people with physical deformities.

State Farm Insurance: “Don’t worry, they won’t bite.” Also, request “Fido, friend or foe?” coloring book through State Farm.

American Kennel Club: learn about breeds, breeders and more.

Dog Bite Law: A bounty of information regarding legal aspects of dog bites.

Sue Sternberg: Sue is an expert in dog aggression and an innovator in the field of shelter dog welfare.

Online Dog Bite Victim Support Group: Support for the victim and family of the victim of a dog attack.

Insurance Information Institute: The Insurance Information Institute has excellent information regarding homeowners insurance liability. Learn how to protect yourself – and your assets.

A Terrible Thing Happened (Book)
A story for children who have witnessed violence or trauma. 32 Pages.
By Margaret M. Holmes Illustrated by Cary Pillo. An afterward for parents and other caregivers offers extensive suggestions for helping traumatized children, including a list of other sources that focus on specific events.

Living with Kids and Dogs…Without Losing Your Mind: By Colleen Pelar, CPDT, CDBC Winner of the Humane Society of the United States Compassionate Care Award. This easy-to-read guide includes, among other things:
• Specific advice for each stage of your child’s life
• Tips for choosing the right dog for your family
• Strategies for avoiding common problems

2013 Dog Bite Reports: Information on several reports compiled by the CDC and other sources on dog bites over the past several years.

2013 Dog Bite Statistics: Statistics regarding dog bites within the US.

Endorsement: Various endorsements from individuals who have used or attended our programs.

Safety Tips: Dog safety tips from our activity book.

Courtesy of….. preventthebite



WASHINGTON, D.C., May 14, 2015 — Every year more than 4.5 million Americans, more than half of them children, are bitten by dogs. As part of the National Dog Bite Prevention Week® (May 17-23, 2015) coalition, American Humane Association, the nation’s first national humane organization and the only one dedicated to protecting the welfare of animals and children, encourages adults to teach children how to avoid dog bites and learn the importance of pet owner responsibility.

“For thousands of years, dogs have been our best friends, providing love, comfort and protection,” says Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of American Humane Association. “In turn, we must be their best friends and protect all those around us – ourselves, our children, and our dogs – from the dangers and consequences of dog bites through good prevention strategies.”

“The majority of emergency room treatments for dog bites involve children,” says Dr. Kwane Stewart, chief veterinary officer at American Humane Association. “Studies have also shown that the greatest percentage of dog-bite fatalities occurred among children and unsupervised newborns.”

Dogs can bite for many reasons, including improper care and/or a lack of socialization. All dogs, even well trained gentle dogs, are capable of biting however when provoked, especially when eating, sleeping or caring for puppies. Thus, even when a bite is superficial or classified as “provoked,” dogs may be abandoned or euthanized. Therefore, it’s vitally important to keep both children and dogs safe by preventing dog bites wherever possible.

To reduce the number of injuries to people and the risk of relinquishment of dogs that bite, American Humane Association offers the following suggestions:

For Children:


  • Never approach an unknown dog or a dog that is alone without an owner, and always ask for permission before petting the dog.
  • Never approach an injured animal – find an adult who can get the help s/he needs
  • Never approach a dog that is eating, sleeping or nursing puppies.
  • Don’t poke, hit, pull, pinch or tease a dog.


For Dog Owners:


  • Never leave a baby or small child alone with a dog, even if it is a family pet.
  • Interactions between children and dogs should always be monitored to ensure the safety of both your child and your dog.
  • Teach your children to treat the dog with respect and not to engage in rough or aggressive play.
  • Make sure your pet is socialized as a young puppy so it feels at ease around people and other animals.
  • Never put your dog in a position where s/he feels threatened.
  • Walk and exercise your dog regularly to keep him/her healthy and to provide mental stimulation.
  • Use a leash in public to ensure you are able to control your dog.
  • Regular veterinary care is essential to maintain your dog’s health; a sick or injured dog is more likely to bite.
  • Be alert, if someone approaches you and your dog – caution them to wait before petting the dog, give your pet time to be comfortable with a stranger.


American Humane Association also offers a free online booklet available for families with children called “Pet Meets Baby,” providing valuable information on introducing a new child to a home with a pet – or a new pet into a home with a child:

Consider these statistics and tips provided by National Dog Bite Prevention Week® Coalition members:

  • The American Veterinary Medical Association says that after children, senior citizens are the second most common dog bite victims. During National Dog Bite Prevention Week®, the AVMA highlights the most recent findings in the veterinary behavior field, introduces new educational programs for pet owners of all ages and joins with its coalition partners in urging public to respect and better understand a dog’s behavior and urge dog owner’s to provide a safe, happy environment for both people and dogs. They have provided much useful information at this link.
  • In 2013, State Farm paid nearly $115 million as a result of 3,500 dog-related injury claims. Over the past five years, the insurer has paid $528 million for claims resulting from accidents involving a dog.
  • Prevent The Bite did a survey of 710 children on 12 key things to do and not to do in various situations with dogs. Not a single child answered all twelve correctly. Here are the top five results:
    1. If a dog is chasing you, should you try to run away? Just 53% knew the answer was No.
    2. Are there only certain breeds (or types) of dogs that bite? Only 47% knew the answer was No.
    3. Does an angry dog ever wag his tail? 33% knew the correct answer was Yes.
    4. Is a dog that is afraid as dangerous as an angry dog? Only 27% knew the answer was Yes.
    5. Do dogs like to be kissed and hugged? A dangerously low number, only 24%, were correct – NO!
  • The Insurance Information Institute says dog bites accounted for more than one-third of all homeowners insurance liability claim dollars paid out in 2014, costing in excess of $530 million.
  • According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons there was a 6 percent increase in reconstructive procedures to repair injuries from dog bites over the past year. American Society for Reconstructive Microsurgery President Gregory R. D. Evans, MD, FACS says, “Prevention of these serious injuries is an important responsibility of dog owners as well as parents. Injuries to the face and hands can be disfiguring or disabling and require prompt, expert medical attention.”
  • The U.S. Postal Service reports that 5,767 postal employees were attacked by dogs in 2014 – up from 5,581 in 2013. Children, the elderly, and postal carriers are the most frequent victims of dog bites.
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics says if you’re threatened by a dog, remain calm. Avoid eye contact. Stand still until the dog leaves or back away slowly. If you are knocked down, curl into a ball and protect your face with your hands. If a dog bites your child, clean small wounds with soap and water and seek medical attention for larger wounds. Contact the dog’s veterinarian to check vaccination records

About American Humane Association

American Humane Association is the country’s first national humane organization and the only one dedicated to protecting both children and animals. Since 1877, American Humane Association has been at the forefront of virtually every major advance in protecting our most vulnerable from cruelty, abuse and neglect. Today we’re also leading the way in understanding the human-animal bond and its role in therapy, medicine and society. American Humane Association reaches millions of people every day through groundbreaking research, education, training and services that span a wide network of organizations, agencies and businesses. You can help make a difference, too. Visit American Humane Association today.


Welcome to Doggone Safe.


Doggone Safe is a US-based 501(c)3 non-profit with over 1400 members in more than 30 countries. Our goal is the education of safe human-canine interactions to prevent dog bites that can ultimately lead to serious and life altering ramifications for both people and their pets.

Get Involved Today!

There are several ways you can get involved and help Doggone Safe advocate and educate for Dog Bite Safety. Join us today and have access to all of our resources to use in your educational activities. Support our quarterly advocacy campaigns in your local community. 

Educate children, families and dog owners about dog body language, safe training methods and how to act safely around dogs to prevent dog bites. 

Our flagship bite prevention program is called Be a Tree and it has been delivered to nearly 1 million children worldwide. We also support dog bite victims with information through our dog bite victim support group.

Click here and become a “Be a Tree Presenter”. This program provides you with the tools and support to actively and safely educate children in your community to “Speak Dog” Learn more here. This is a fun and educational program that has educated thousands of children over the last few years. Maybe you are looking to schedule a presentation for your group, click here to find a presenter.

Understand How Dogs Communicate – Learn To “Speak Dog”!

Learn about canine communication and social behavior. Understand the rich language of canines. The graphics below show you how dogs clearly communicate when they are scared, uncomfortable or simply need space. Learn about our “Speak Dog” Certification Program.Click here

What Presenters Say About The “Be A Tree Program”

Kathy Wolff – Basic Manners Dog Trainer and Responsible Dog Ownership Educator, Watertown All Breed Community

“Doggone Safe is an excellent dog bite prevention program because it teaches children and their parents to read dog body language. This skill is on the front line of prevention. When you can understand what the dog is saying, you can better manage the environment to prevent any unfortunate situations. Also, teaching children to respect another living being is so very important. Respect for a dog will create a safe environment. Doggone Safe, using pictures with easy to understand explanations and interactive role playing help children and parents understand how to respect and respond to a dog. Their support and partnership with other areas of dog bite safety such as Dogs and Storks, and on line seminars for adults who are in fields of work where they encounter dogs makes this a very well rounded program.”

Watch a short webinar on The “Be A Tree Program”