Summer had just begun and yet it nearly ended for a Hamilton woman on June 23, 2022. While out for a bike ride on one of Hamilton’s beautiful trails, a German Sheppard broke away from its owner. The dog bit her repeatedly on her lower leg causing significant blood loss and 30 stitches to repair the damage to her muscle and tissue. The dog bite statistics are not in her favour either.
How common are dog bites?
I thought this was an isolated incident. Yet, to my surprise dog bites are more common than I thought. There is an estimated 5000 dog bites a year in Ontario. In Canada, gregmonforton.com reports that 42 Canadians are bitten every hour. This includes 1-2 fatalities yearly. The last one reported in the news was a Montreal woman mauled in her backyard in 2016. Any death or mauling is too many but when looking at the large picture the percentage is extremely low. Petkeen reports that Canadians own 7.2 million dogs in 2000.
The University of Guelph reports that nearly 17 % of dogs that have bitten humans do not have any vaccination. In Ontario, dogs need to have the rabies vaccination when they turn 3 months old because of dog bites. Rabies has been active in Ontario for over a decade now.
Ontario homeowners are responsible for their animal’s behaviour when visitors enter their yard. Ontario property owners are liable if their dog bites a visitor.
Dog bites are commonly due to the public wanting to pet cute dogs and then approaching them incorrectly. Animal advocates believe that public education is a big part of safety when approaching a strange dog.
The following infographic lays out six steps to safely approach an unfamiliar dog. The first rule is common sense, ask permission! Don’t stick your hand out to ask the dog to bite you. Stand calmy and allow the dog to come to you. No loud noise or screams of joy. Remember not all dogs want to be your friend. Take a hint.
Take a first aid course and learn how to offer first aid treatment for a dog bite.