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Most dog bites could have been prevented

Regardless of the breed of dog you have, as an owner it is your responsibility to ensure your dog is socialized, trained and friendly. It is also your responsibility to protect your dog from unwelcomed people, animals and situations.

Last month we celebrated dog bite prevention week and we learned Michigan is ranked sixth in the country for dog bite insurance claims. As we've discovered, dogs usually bite for one common reason: discomfort or fear in a certain situation and the human is not interpreting the dog's reaction correctly. Therefore, the dog protects itself the only way it knows how.

Veterinary behaviorists and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control gave us several statistics to ponder:

• Half of all children ages 4 to 18 report being bitten by a dog

• The majority of dig bite victims are bitten by a dog they know, not a stray roaming the streets

• Child and seniors are most likely to be bitten by a dog

• More than 70 percent of all dog bite cases involve unneutered male dogs

• A tied or chained dog is nearly three times more likely to bite than a dog who is able to get away

• 84 percent of dogs that bite are owned by reckless owners who abuse, neglect, nor properly interact with their pet

Therefore, it is appropriate that Michigan law clearly puts the onus, responsibility and accountability of dog bites on the shoulders of the pet owner. If you are the victim of a dog bite, through no fault of your own, you are entitled to have your medical bills for cuts, punctures, lacerations or mental and emotional therapy reimbursed.

But by all means, NEVER approach or pet a dog without getting permission from the owner and never under ANY circumstances leave ANY breed of dog alone with a child.

Source: annarbor.com, "Pets: Dog bites are preventable if you understand the causes of them, and know how to stay safe," Lorrie Shaw, May 25, 2012

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