National Dog Bite Prevention Week is right around the corner. Local agencies are letting people know even though dogs are a man's best friend, they still have teeth and it hurts when they use them.
"Most times people always assume that the dog that they've interacted with before is always going to be nice," said Parker Hall, a State Farm Insurance Agent in Morgantown. "That's simply not the case." -
State Farm Insurance agents said more than 4 million people are bitten or attacked by dogs every year. Half of those incidents happen to children.
West Virginia ranks 37 in the country for dog bite claims each year.
"Most dog bite claims happen either in or around a person's home," said Parker. "When you're interacting with the dog, some of the things that we've recommended and we've got from the folks that we've partnered with is not to startle the dog."
Experts said canine aggression is not breed specific but usually caused by human treatment.
"Dogs that are chained 24/7 or kept isolated from social contact are more likely to bite than well-socialized and exercised dogs," said Susan Hunter, the President of the Monongalia County Humane Society. "Unneutered males are more likely to bite than neutered males. Especially when there are female dogs around. Dogs that are teased by children bite more often than dogs that are not mistreated."
Any animal bite prevention is important in our area. Especially recently. As of May 16, 22 local animals tested positive for rabies since January.
"We've seen possible samples of rabies in foxes, a horse, a skunk," said Robert White, a Regional Epidemiologist at the Monongalia County Health Department. "We're out here to tell people to have their pets immunized against rabies, to report all animal bites to the local Health Department, and to seek medical treatment if you're bitten by an animal."
Any dog can bite under the right circumstances.
An average dog bite claim can cost up to $28,000. It's important to know your dog and always ask permission and use caution when interacting with other people's dogs.
"This is a fairly common occurrence, and it can happen, and does happen," said Parker. "The reason we are partnering during dog bite prevention week is to get some information out there for folks and to let them know what's going on."
Hunter said there are several ways to avoid a dog bite. Including, neutering your dog, taking it for obedience training, socializing it with people and other dogs, and not allowing people to tease it.
She also said to stop moving toward a dog who is giving signs of fear or anxiety.