Q. I heard that older people are the leading victims of dog bites. Is this true?
A. No. However, they are the second most likely to be attacked, behind children, who make up 60 percent of dog attacks. Occupations like mail carriers and meter readers are third.
Often, children are unaware of how to behave around dogs and can frighten them into behaving aggressively. Older people are more likely to be attacked because they are usually slower and weaker than younger adults. Mail carriers and such walk onto property considered by the dogs to be their domain to defend.
Over 4.7 million Americans each year are bitten by dogs. Approximately 800,000 of those victims seek out medical attention. Of the injured, emergency medical treatment is required for 386,000 and approximately one dozen die.
Here is a list of tips from experts on avoiding dog attacks:
• Looking a dog straight in the eye can provoke it. Don’t do it!
• Running away or past a dog can make it aggressive and want to chase you. Don’t do it!
• You should never approach a dog you don’t know and attempt to be friendly, especially if it is behind a fence, tethered, or in a parked car.
• If you are approached by an unfamiliar dog, stand still. It is likely that the dog will sniff you before walking away.
• Never bother a dog that is eating or sleeping. And stay away from a mother tending to her litter.
• If a dog threatens you, don’t yell. Respond calmly and in a commanding voice, tell the dog to go away. Until the dog leaves, either remain still or back away slowly.
• If a dog attacks you, give it an object to bite such as a jacket or tote. If the dog knocks you down, roll into a ball and lie still, covering your head and face with you hands.