In an effort to promote awareness of the continuing problem of dog bites, the Center for Disease Control is celebrating National Dog Bite Week (May 17-23). Perhaps “celebrating” is really the appropriate word. The CDC estimates that there are over 4.5 million dog bites that happen every year! The odds are 3 to 1 that the person most likely to be a dog bite victim is a child. And these same stats say that over 75 percent of the bites come from dogs the victim knows and most dog bites occur either at home or in a familiar place.
The CDC is trying to promote awareness of the warning signs of an impending dog bite. It seems that kids are less likely to appreciate these warning signs and as a result, suffer the bulk of dog bite injuries. Renowned veterinarian, Dr. Ian Dunbar, has developed a criteria for assessing and categorizing dog bites:
- Level 1: Displays of intimidation, including dog growling, lunges, snarling with no teeth.
- Level 2: Dogs teeth graze or touch the skin, but no puncture. Could be minor surface abrasions and bruising and scratches from paws and nails.
- Level 3: Between 1-4 small holes with punctures about 1/2 of the length of the dog’s tooth.
- Level 4: Between 1-4 holes from a single bite with punctures deeper than 1/2 of dog’s tooth. Tearing, black bruising and/or slashing wounds are present. Dog may have clamped down and shook victim.
- Level 5: Multiple bites of Level 4 or above. A repeated attack.
- Level 6: Any dog bite that kills a human.