Bite Prevention & Rabies Information

Safety Tips

  • Never approach a strange dog, particularly one who's confined or restrained.
  • Don't pet a dog, even your own, without letting him/her see and sniff you first.
  • Avoid running past a dog or turning your back on a dog and running away. A dog's natural instinct is to chase and catch fleeing prey.
  • Unless you know the dog very well, don't disturb a dog who's sleeping, eating, or caring for puppies.
  • Use caution with strange dogs. Always assume that a strange dog may see you as an intruder or a threat.
  • Don't pick up a stray or unknown cat.

Attacking Dogs

If you think a dog may attack:

  • Never scream and run. If you do, you'll probably trigger the dog's chase response and only increase your chances of being attacked. Try to remain motionless until the dog leaves, then back away slowly until he/she is out of sight.
  • More than 60% of bite victims are children. Teach your children to remain motionless when a strange dog approaches them.
  • If you allow a strange dog to sniff you, in most cases the dog will leave when he/she decides you aren't a threat.
  • Avoid direct eye contact with the dog. Staring into a dog's eyes is perceived by the dog as an act of aggression and dominance and will only challenge the dog to attack.
  • In a loud and low voice, tell the dog to "go home."
  • If the dog does attack, "feed" him or her your jacket, purse, or anything that can come between you and the dog.
  • If you fall or are knocked down, curl into a ball and put your hands over your ears. Try not to scream or roll around.

"Bite-Proof" a Dog

  • Spay or neuter your pet. Sterilization will not only reduce aggression but will also decrease dog's tendency to roam. However, spaying or neutering won't reduce a dog's protectiveness.
  • Train and socialize your pet. Set appropriate limits on acceptable behavior. Help your dog become a trustworthy member of your family and community.
  • Teach your dog appropriate behavior. Don't play aggressive games with your dog such as wrestling, tug of war, or "siccing" your dog on another person. It's essential that your dog recognize you and all the members of your family - including young children as dominant and not challenge your leadership.
  • Be a responsible pet owner. License and vaccinate your dog. For everyone's safety, don't allow him/her to roam. Make your pet a member of your family. Dogs who spend too much time in the doghouse or tied in the backyard have a much greater chance of developing behavioral problems such as aggression. Dogs who are well socialized are much less likely to bite. Do not keep your dog chained - dogs who live their lives chained develop serious aggression problems.
  • Err on the safe side. If you don't know how your dog will react to a new situation, be cautious. If your dog may panic in crowds, leave him or her at home. If your dog may overreact to visitors or delivery persons, keep him/her in another room. Help your dog become accustomed to a variety of situations. Until you're confident of his/her behavior, however, avoid unusual situations.
  • Look for warning signs. Pet owners can often recognize their dog's displays of aggression before an attack occurs. A dog may show aggression by disobeying or showing signs of dominance - especially over small children - such as growling or nipping. Of course, if your dog ever attacks another animal without provocation, seek professional advice immediately. Proper training can usually eradicate aggressive behavior.

Rabies Information

Rabies is caused by a virus. The virus is transmitted via saliva contact with broken skin or mucous membranes. This normally occurs via a bite from an infected animal.

All warm-blooded (homeothermic) animals can get the disease. The carriers of rabies in the midwest are skunks and bats. Though rodents and birds can get the disease, there has never been a documented case of these animals spreading rabies, mainly because they are usually quickly killed by a bite from another animal.

When the virus is contracted, it enters the nerves at the site of the bite. Because the immune system is not very active within the nervous system, the body is not able to make rabies antibodies quick enough to attack the virus and stop the disease.