May 15-22 is National Dog Bite Prevention Week®

Victoria Stilwell joins veterinarians and mail carriers on prevention campaign

SCHAUMBURG, Ill., May 12, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) hosts this year's National Dog Bite Prevention Week® to help stop the nearly 5 million dog bites that happen every year. Internationally recognized dog trainer Victoria Stilwell, from Animal Planet's "It's Me or the Dog," joined AVMA veterinarians, the United States Postal Service (USPS), pediatricians, plastic surgeons and representatives of the insurance industry in offering tips to prevent dog bites.

At the Houston, Texas, kick-off for 2011's National Dog Bite Prevention Week®, the USPS announced the top-10 cities in which letter carriers were attacked most often. Houston ranked number one out of 1,400 cities. More than 5,669 postal workers are attacked by dogs across the country.

"Veterinarians recognize, while there are 72 million good dogs in the United States, any dog can bite if it is frightened or feels threatened, even the family pet.  Unfortunately, children are most often the victims," says Dr. Larry M. Kornegay, AVMA president.

A passionate advocate for science-based, force-free training methods, Victoria Stilwell joined the National Dog Bite Prevention® campaign to help support studies from board-certified veterinary behaviorists and behavioral scientists suggesting that forcing dogs into submission (e.g., leash yanking, rolling them on their backs) as a means of preventing and correcting behavioral problems may have potentially dangerous consequences for owners. Because fear and anxiety are common causes of aggression, the use of dominance techniques and/or punishment can directly exacerbate the problem by increasing the animal's fear and anxiety.

"Dogs need and want us to provide effective leadership, but the most effective leaders do not simply impose their will on their followers," says Stilwell. "And I firmly believe the only way to truly ensure that we are successful in achieving the necessary balance with our dogs is by using positive reinforcement and treating them with the same respect that we ask of them. It's not the breed of the dog that causes the bite, but rather how well the dog is trained and controlled."

Injury rates are highest among children between the ages of 5 and 9 years old. The dogs biting these children are not strangers. In victims younger than 18 years old, the family dog inflicts 30 percent of all dog bites, and a neighbor's dog is responsible for another 50 percent of these bites.

"The AVMA urges all families to start early in educating children about safety around dogs, even if you don't own a dog," Dr. Kornegay says. "We have numerous engaging educational programs for children starting as young as preschool to teach children the right and the wrong way to interact with dogs."

Joining the AVMA and the USPS to spread the word that dog attacks are preventable are: the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) www.aap.org; the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) www.plasticsurgery.org; the American Society of Maxillofacial Surgeons (ASMS) www.maxface.org; the American Society of Reconstructive Microsurgery (ASRM) www.microsurg.org; Prevent The Bite, www.preventthebite.org; and the Insurance Information Institute, www.iii.org. To learn more about preventing dog bites, visit www.avma.org to view the AVMA  brochure, community guidelines, podcast and video, and to learn more about The Blue Dog Parent Guide and CD, a scientifically validated educational program for preschoolers.

The AVMA, founded in 1863, is one of the oldest and largest veterinary medical organizations in the world. More than 81,500 member veterinarians worldwide are engaged in a wide variety of professional activities. The year 2011 is being celebrated by veterinarians around the world as Vet2011, the 205th anniversary of the birth of veterinary medicine and education.

SOURCE American Veterinary Medical Association



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Photo Credit: U.S. DoD, Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall, Jr. View all news by American Veterinary Medical Association

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