Morrissey: ‘It’s That Important!’

By Louisa Morrissey

“…A recent study from the Children’s Hospital on the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus looked at 537 children treated for facial dog bites between 2003 and 2008. Sixty-eight percent of the bites occurred in children 5 years old or younger with the highest incidences in 3 year olds. In most cases the dog was known through the family, friend or neighbor. In the majority of incidences the dog was provoked when petted too aggressively, startled or stepped on by the child. In 2012, 4.5 million people have been bitten by dogs in the U.S. and 800,000 required medical attention. Statistics show the bites are not associated with any one particular breed of dog.

In spite of these sober and daunting statistics, this is a problem we can solve! The solution involves parents, educators, shelter and rescue workers, medical personnel, pediatricians, trainers, lawyers and lawmakers and animal control officials. The most important components of the solution involve education about dog body language and what things people do to provoke a dog to bite. Subsequently, it also involves understanding how to prevent dog bites through education, supervision and safe management of the environment around dogs. This includes placement of dogs in homes that are appropriate for that individual dog’s temperament in relationship to the lifestyle and canine expertise of the new owners. This also includes understanding how training methods that use confrontation, pain and fear dramatically increase the chances of a dog bite in comparison to training methods that use management, non-forceful methods and positive reinforcement. Finally, and most important, stressing to parents of young children that kids and dogs need supervision at all times.

This topic is so important that I suggest driving “down the hill” to Denver on Nov. 2 to attend the National Dog Bite Awareness and Prevention Conference sponsored by Victoria Stilwell Positively Dog Training. Speakers will include Victoria Stilwell, dog trainer and host of “It’s Me or the Dog” on Animal Planet; Jim Crosby, retired police lieutenant, dog behavior specialist and leading national dog bite fatality/incident investigator; Claudine Wilkins, attorney and dog advocate who drafted and lobbied the Georgia Felony Dog Fighting Law and Responsible Dog Owner Act; and Carrie and Joey Perk, founders of the Liam J Perk Foundation who’s family dog of many years tragically bit and killed their 2-year-old son.

Together, through education and prevention we can solve this tragic problem!

For more info, visit…”