Four Key Points That Could Reduce the Number of Dog Attacks

blueeyedPP06American Humane Association, which has been working to protect the nation’s children and animals for 136 years, applauds President Obama for joining a growing chorus of animal-friendly groups including American Humane Association that are opposed to breed-specific legislation (BSL) and have been calling for an end to the banning or restriction of specific types of dogs based only on their breed.

This is a great week for America’s — and humankind’s – best friends. Not only is there a new dog in the White House, but the President has made it a new day for dogs by opposing unjust and ineffective laws that ban or restrict certain types of dog based only on breed. Fact is, there is little evidence that supports breed-specific legislation as an effective means of reducing dog bites and dog attacks. On the contrary, studies have shown that it is not the breeds themselves that are dangerous, but unfavorable situations that are creating dangerous dogs. The support of the administration on this issue is a step forward in addressing the true issues and improving the safety and welfare for both people and the animals they love.

Legislation targeting specific breeds simply does not work because dog attacks result from multiple factors, not just a simple breakdown of breed culpability. Studies conducted by the Centers for Disease Control, the American Veterinary Medical Association and The National Canine Research Council, as well as independent researchers, all agree that BSL is not productive. On top of this, a recent scientific study shows that breed identification is often difficult, compounding the problem.

There are, however, four key points that could reduce the number of dog attacks:

  1. Education

    Children are statistically the most at risk for dog bites. Unsupervised newborns were 370 times more likely than an adult to be killed by a dog. Eighty-two percent of dog bites treated in emergency rooms involved children under 15 years old. Adult supervision plays a key role in prevention. Children who understand how to act around dogs, how to play with dogs, when to leave dogs alone and how to properly meet a dog are much less likely to be bitten. By educating children at home and in school, we can drastically reduce the instances of dog bites.

  2. Enforcement

    Communities can greatly reduce the number of dog bites by enacting stronger animal control laws and by providing better resources for enforcing existing laws. Examples include leash, animal-at-large and licensing laws, as well as mandatory spay/neuter laws for shelters. Additional measures include increasing and enforcing penalties for violations, targeting chronically irresponsible owners, imposing serious penalties for bites that occur in the context of another infraction (particularly a violation of leash laws) and prohibiting chaining or tethering for excessive periods of time. Chaining and/or neglect results in anxious, lonely, bored, under-stimulated, untrained, unsocialized, isolated dogs that are much more likely to react aggressively because of their fear. However, enacting more laws and strengthening laws are not the only answers. Animal control facilities are already underfunded and understaffed, which makes enforcement of existing laws difficult. It is essential that legislators recognize the value of and need for animal control facilities and officers, and provide them with increased financial support and staffing to enforce these laws. American Humane supports the enactment and enforcement of dangerous-dog laws that are breed neutral and identify dangerous dogs based on actions — not on breed. Good dangerous-dog laws involve a hearing after a dog has bitten or threatened a person or another animal. If the dog is found to be dangerous, the dog’s owner can be required to meet a variety of requirements, such as having the dog neutered, muzzled at all times when off the owner’s property, always on a leash, confined to the owner’s yard, microchipped, etc.

  3. Spaying and neutering

    Unneutered male dogs are more than twice as likely to bite than neutered dogs, while female dogs in heat or nursing are much more dangerous than spayed females. The behavior of intact animals can be unpredictable. Talk to your veterinarian to schedule an appointment, or contact your local humane organization or animal shelter for information on low-cost spay/neuter assistance. If your community does not provide low-cost services, encourage your legislator, local animal shelter or veterinarian to consider the option as a public-health service.  Get more information on spaying and neutering.

  4. Better bite reporting

Researchers agree that better statistics on dog bites could greatly improve our ability to firmly identify the factors that should be the primary focus for improving public safety. Research to date is primarily based on incomplete police and hospital records, as well as newspaper articles.  Incomplete data includes failure to record the location of bites, age and sex of the dog, age and sex of the victim, circumstances surrounding the bites and accurate breed identification.

Additional Suggestions

Supervision:

Dogs left on their own may feel uncertain and defensive, or even overly confident — and this poses risks to the dog, as well as to other people and dogs. The vast majority of dogs involved in attacks are off-leash and unsupervised. Additionally, unsupervised children may innocently wander too close to a dangerous situation. Eighty-eight percent of fatal dog attacks among 2-year-olds occurred when the child was left unsupervised. Supervision of children, especially around dogs, is one way to help ensure they are safe.

Train and socialize your dog:

Be sure your dog interacts with and has good manners around all members of the family, the public and other animals. Basic training is as important for the owner as it is for the dog, and socialization is the key to a well-adjusted adult dog. It is essential that puppies between 8 and 16 weeks old be exposed to a variety of people, places, dogs and other animals. As dogs age, do your best to continue their exposure to these things to ensure that they are well socialized throughout their lives.

Restrain your dog:

Dogs that are allowed to roam loose outside the yard may perceive the entire neighborhood as their “territory” and may defend it aggressively. By obeying leash laws and taking care to properly fence your yard, you will not only be respecting the laws in your community, but you will also be keeping your dog safe from cars, other dogs and unforeseen dangers.

Unchain your dog:

Chained dogs are nearly three times more likely to bite. Tethering or chaining dogs increases their stress, protectiveness and vulnerability, thereby increasing the potential for aggression. Fencing is the better solution.

For thousands of years, dogs have been our best friends. Eliminating breed-specific legislation is one way of showing that we can be their best friends, as well. We are very pleased to have the President and the Administration take this vital step in opposing BSL.

Oklahoma Disaster Resources: Recovering Lost Pets and Animals

Did you or someone you know lose a pet during the May 20th storm in Oklahoma?? Below are some resources which may aid your search.

The Department of Agriculture has set up a public information hotline for animals affected by the May 19 and May 20 natural disasters. If you have lost a pet, found a missing pet that was lost or found a pet in the areas affected, please call (405) 837-7240.


Find a lost pet

>>>Read the news release from American Humane Association here.


>>Click here to view images from Red Star’s Oklahoma deployment.

Red Star

A Red Star™Animal Emergency Rescue Vehicle for Betty White

Betty White for AHA

White has supported the American Humane Association™ for more than sixty years now. To celebrate her 91st birthday, Betty is making a gift to the charity she has long held dear and is matching up to $25,000 in donations so that together we can purchase a Red Star™ Animal Emergency Services Rescue Vehicle for the West Coast.

American Humane Association began doing animal relief in August 1916, by accepting an invitation of the War Department to help animals used by the U.S. Army during World War I. The invitation resulted in the development of the American Red Star Animal Relief Program known today as Red Star™ Animal Emergency Services.

Since its inception, American Humane Association’s Red Star Animal Emergency Services has responded to national and international disasters, rescuing thousands of animals. Animal rescue technology and expertise has advanced drastically in 90 years. Today, American Humane Association’s Animal Emergency Services includes a fleet of emergency response vehicles customized to help animals in disasters — specialized rescue equipment designed specifically for animal search and rescue.

Farewell to a True American Hero

It is with great sadness that I write you today to say that American Hero Dog Gabe passed away yesterday. On thisValentine’s Day, people around the world were heartbroken to learn Gabe made the journey across the Rainbow Bridge. Our thoughts remain with Gabe’s father, Sgt. 1st Class Chuck Shuck as he deals with the loss of his best friend, and a true American Hero in every sense of the word.

Gabe and Sgt. Shuck demonstrate the true power of the human-animal bond, the inextricable link between people, pets, and the world we share. This dog was languishing in a Houston shelter before he was adopted and trained by the military to perform the duties of sniffing out dangerous weapons. We’ve always known that adopting dogs saves lives, but in this case the dog turned that around to save countless human lives! The pair was deployed to Iraq and together went on 210 missions, with 26 finds of explosives and weapons, earning 40 medals and coins of excellence for their work.

But Gabe’s duties went far beyond the battlefield. While in Iraq, he also served as a therapy dog, bringing comfort and hope to his fellow soldiers. Following retirement from active duty, Gabe kept very busy visiting wounded warriors in hospitals to provide comfort and by visiting schools with his dad to teach and inspire children.

 



Both he and Sgt. Shuck are shining examples of courage and valor in the face of adversity. And due to his incredible accomplishments, millions of Americans voted Gabe as the Military Dog of the Year and the American Hero Dog of the Year at the 2012 American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards™.

We know the loss of a beloved pet can have a lasting, emotional effect on people, and Gabe will continue to live on in the hearts of everyone here at American Humane Association and anyone who was touched by the heroic acts of this beautiful lab.

Please remember to hug your pet today, because nothing is stronger than the human-animal bond, and on Valentine’s Day, it is the least we can do to show love and compassion for our best friends.

Let us know in the comments below this post how a pet has touched your life.

Happy Valentine’s Day from all of us at American Humane Association.

 

A Hero’s Wine: Making This World More Humane With Every Sip

Thanks to Our Sponsor Cru Vin Dogs!

A Hero’s Wine
How often do we drink a fine wine that’s not only exquisite in taste but helps make this world a more humane one? We’ve had the pleasure of working with and getting to know the family behind the label at Cru Vin Dogs who provided us with the first ever pinot noir labeled after Inaugural American Hero Dog Roselle. Additionally, artist Jay Snellgrove, the brilliant artist behind each of the Cru Vin Dog labels, created a one of a kind portrait in honor of 2011 American Hero Dog Roselle, a Guide Dog extraordinaire who led her guardian to safety on 9/11.

The family behind the Cru Vin Dogs label are artistic and passionate about the human-animal bond and we’re thankful for all they do for the community. The Story of Inaugural American Hero Dog Roselle On Sept. 11, 2001, guide dog Roselle and her guardian Michael, were working in the World Trade Center on the 78th floor of Tower One when the airplane crashed into their building. From the outset, Roselle guided and did her job perfectly, as they went to the stairwell and traveled down 1,463 stairs. After leaving the building, Roselle and Michael were across the street from Tower Two when it collapsed.

Despite the dust and chaos, Roselle remained calm and totally focused on her job, as debris fell all around even hitting them. They found a subway entrance where they could escape the heavy dust. Roselle worked tirelessly and flawlessly that day. She saved Michael’s life and was his angel during a time of tragedy. Roselle led a beautiful fulfilling life and left this earth in early 2011, but her vivid, heroic spirit remains in her successor, Africa.

Join the conversation!

The Best Coping Mechanism Might Be Covered in Fur: Helping Children Understand the Newtown, CT Tragedy

Animals Key to Helping Kids Cope with Stress

AS THE NEWS CONTINUES TO UNFOLD ABOUT THE TRAGEDY IN CONNECTICUT, American Humane Association stands ready to assist in any way it can. The facts in the case are still being uncovered, but we do know that this tragedy has left at least 20 of our most precious treasures – our children – and at least seven other adults dead in the wake of one of the worst school shootings in U.S. history. As a mother of three, it breaks my heart for the families affected; this is the call no parent ever, ever wants to receive. I shared the president’s sentiment in hugging my children a little tighter when they came home from school on Friday afternoon.

Animal-assisted therapy handlers constantly report is that children in particular feel they can share secrets with the animals and tell them their true feelings because they believe the animal will listen and love them unconditionally.

Last year, in our organization’s annual report, I mentioned the compassion fatigue in this country; every day we’re inundated with horrible stories in the news where our animals and children are suffering at the hands of an unforgiving world. While organizations like American Humane Association are out there doing all they can to prevent this senselessness, unfortunately it seems we have a long way to go before our work is done.

This year was particularly stormy for our children, and while attacks like this can unfortunately never be predicted, we need to be prepared to help our children cope whenever despicable acts like this occur. Following the massacre in the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado this summer, American Humane Association shared tips on helping children understand what happened. Given that this Friday’s attack occurred in an elementary school – a place where children should feel safe no matter what – I feel it’s appropriate to share these with you again:

  • Keep an eye on children’s emotional reactions. Talk to children – and just as important – listen to them. Encourage kids to express how they feel and ask if anything is worrying them.
  • Regardless of age, reassure them frequently of their safety and security, and reinforce that you, local officials, and their communities are working to keep them safe. Older children may seem more capable, but can also be affected.
  • Keep your descriptions to children simple and limit their exposure to graphic information. Keep to the basic facts that something bad happened but that they are safe. Use words they can understand and avoid technical details and terms such as “smoke grenades” and “sniper.”
  • Limit their access to television and radio news reports since young children may have trouble processing the enormity of the experience, and sometimes believe that each news report may be a new attack.
  • Be prepared for children to ask if such violence can occur to them. Do not lie but repeat that it is very unlikely and that you, their teachers and school staff are there to keep them safe.
  • Watch for symptoms of stress, including clinginess, stomachaches, headaches, nightmares, trouble eating or sleeping, or changes in behavior.
  • If you are concerned about the way your children are responding, consult your doctor, school counselor or local mental health professional.
  • The last point is particularly important: if you feel your child needs help beyond your capacity, please do not delay in getting them the help they need.

One thing we have found over the years is that oftentimes, there’s no better therapy than what comes from an animal. Whether it’s with the family pet, a neighbor’s pet, or even a visit to the zoo, sometimes the best cure comes on four legs and is covered in fur. For years, American Humane Association’s animal-assisted therapy teams have worked to bring comfort to those in hospitals, schools, prisons, and to children of military families. One interesting observation our animal-assisted therapy handlers constantly report is that children in particular feel they can share secrets with the animals and tell them their true feelings because they believe the animal will listen and love them unconditionally.

While we may never know the motives for the shooter’s heinous actions, we do know that whenever tragedies like this arise – and, unfortunately they will again inevitably, as much as we’d like that to not be the case – we need to do all we can to help our children cope. The world can be a scary place for children, but by hugging a dog, or holding a cat, we can show them that everything’s going to be ok. The world is scary at times for all species, but the human-animal bond can help us heal.

Again, our deepest condolences go out to the families and friends of the victims in Connecticut. Please know you’ll remain in our thoughts and prayers.