Injury Resulting from Dog Bites
While its true that most dogs donít bite, any dog will bite if provoked or if
they feel threatened.
Generally, most dog bites are accidental and result in minor nips and scratches.
However, some dog attacks are serious and can result in victims being
hospitalised or in extreme cases being killed.
Fortunately, there have been no deaths recorded from dog bites in Tasmania in
the period 1978 to 1998. But there have been some serious injuries requiring
medical attention and even hospitalisation.
||Males (58%) are almost one and half times more
likely to be bitten than females (42%).
The following report summarises information on injury resulting
from dog bites in Tasmania. Data was sourced from hospital admitted cases for
the years 1990 to 1998 and a non-representative sample of Accident and
Emergency Department presentations for a similar period. Countless more bites
go unreported and untreated and a proportion will be attended to by a GP or
other para medical.
Whoís being bitten and where do most incidents occur?
Most dog bites occur in the home
Contrary to popular belief, the majority of dog bites are not the result of
stray or uncontrolled dogs. The available evidence suggests that the most
common location is the family home and the most likely culprit is the family
pet. Unfortunately, children, especially those aged less than 5 years, are most
at risk of being bitten by dogs.
Briefly, from the available data sources, the following patterns were observed:
- Over the period 1990 to 1998 there were on average around 22
people, for a total of 202 cases, admitted to hospital each year as a result of
a dog bite. This equates to around 5 serious dog bite injuries per 100,000
people in Tasmania each year.
- An investigation of a sample of Accident and Emergency
Department presentations for the same period found another 450 cases of which
most were treated in the casualty section but not admitted to hospital.
- Males (58%) are almost one and half times more likely to be
bitten than females (42%).
Young children are most at risk from dog bites
- Children less than 5 years of age are most at risk of being
hospitalised accounting for 41% of all dog bite admissions, and overall around
68% of all dog bites occurred to kids less than 15 years of age.
- Information about the place of occurrence indicated the
- 52% of incidents occurred in an unspecified place;
- 35% of cases occurred in the home;
- 7% of occurred in a range of places such as streets or
highways, places of recreation and other properties.
The responsible dog owner
As a dog owner you have a number of obligations and responsibilities. Under the
Domestic (feral and nuisance) Animals Act 1994 all dog owners must:
- Register the dog with the local council;
- Ensure the dog is unable to escape from their yard;
- Take responsibility for any damage the dog causes;
- Leash the dog when in public places;
Some DOíS and DONíTS to prevent dog bites
- DONíT put your dog in a position where it feels threatened or
- DO train your dog and at the very least make sure your dog
understands and obeys the basic commands of "sit", "stay", "no" and "come";
- DONíT use physical punishment for inappropriate behaviour;
- DO discourage people, especially children, from petting your
dog in streets or parks;
- DONíT approach stray dogs;
- DO learn to read your dogís body language;
- DONíT play aggressive or tug-of-war games with your dog;
- DO, if a dog approaches you, stand still with your hands at
your sides and feet together and remain still and quiet;
- DONíT stare at a dog (avoid eye contact).
Remember, kind treatment of your dog, consistent training and plenty of
exercise will result in a well adjusted and happy pet.
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